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Recover partitions

Posted on 2011-05-02
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have an old Maxtor One Touch II external USB drive with 2 NTFS partitions (E: and H:).  

W7 Home says the partitions are not formatted:

Each time the USB drive is connected, I am prompted with "You need to format the disk in drive E: / H: before you can use it.  Do you want to format it?"

In "Computer Management", the E: and H: partitions are shown as RAW

The partitions display when I select "safely remove hardware" in system tray (none of my other external USB drives are listed to "safely remove" - not sure why the difference?  Thinking this makes this drive more suseptible to data corruption than the other USB drives?)

The partition sizes are still the same as before there was a problem.

I want to understand what got "trashed": partition table? MFT?

And I want to know how to recover (suggested steps / software).  I've messed around with free recovery software in the past but my impression is that there is a significant difference between free and paid recovery software - is that correct?

Thanks-
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Question by:SAbboushi
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:jkratzer
ID: 35508104
Have windows run a scan disk on these partitions/drives.

Also try connecting the drive to a Win XP PC to see if it sees the data.
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Expert Comment

by:justadad
ID: 35508205
I am not sure what is corrupted about it exactly.
If it was the partition table it would be because it would not have the type recorded for the partitions instead of NTFS.

Did you use a product like TrueCrypt to encrypt the partitions? That would also produce what you see. I have a Truecrypt encrypted USB drive and every time I pop it in I get prompted to format it. It also shows as a RAW partition. I just have to click cancel and then use TrueCrypt to mount it. If you used TrueCrypt to encrypt the partitions and you don't have the passphrases to unencrypt it then you have lost the files. There is no recovery then.

If it is the MFT that is corrupted then recovery software could work.  Which software you choose can depend on what kind of files were present on the drives. If it was just jpg files / images, then a lot of free software may find the files for you, but they tend to work better on FAT formatted drives.

Many of the paid recovery software will run for free to show you the files that it could recover and then just charge you to do the actual recovery.

I would try Recuva software first.

To make sure that you don't damage your drive I would also suggest making an image of the disk to make sure that any recovery attempt or accidental reformating does not damage the files on the stick. For that you can use any imaging tool that does a full byte copy.  dd on linux or WinDD http://windd.sourceforge.net/ would do the trick but is not fully automated for you.
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dbrunton earned 2000 total points
ID: 35508266
Try TestDisk http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

Tutorial http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step

As long as you don't save using TestDisk you'll be OK.  Check the partition tables using TestDisk and see what it makes of them.  That'll give you an idea if anything is screwed there.  If it can see the partition tables can it see the files within.  That'll give you a basis to work from.


>>  I've messed around with free recovery software in the past but my impression is that there is a significant difference between free and paid recovery software - is that correct?

Depends on what you've used.  

Top of the line paid stuff is GetDataBack and R-Studio.  I generally recommend GetDataBack (I do own it) for people here although I've used R-Studio a long time ago.  And there is other less known stuff.

Free stuff includes Recuva which does a fairly decent job for a lot of cases.

I've recommended TestDisk above which is free.  The interface is very primitive but for what it does it is excellent.

Don't knock the free stuff.

For data recovery purposes I suggest people try the demo versions of the paid stuff.  If it can see their files then try the free stuff.  If the free stuff works they save money.  If it doesn't then it is time to pay the money for the commerical stuff.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 35509313
jkratzer:
>>Have windows run a scan disk on these partitions/drives.
Doesn't run when I tell it to on these partitions

>>Also try connecting the drive to a Win XP PC to see if it sees the data.
behaves the same way under xp
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35511058
Get a copy of Recuva (free) www.recuva.com and run it on this drive. It can help you to recover data.
As for the drive itself, is it powered drive or is the power only coming through USB?
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 35512180
>>As for the drive itself, is it powered drive or is the power only coming through USB?
powered
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 35512324
I tried recuva: it does not proceed beyond the "File Location" screen.  e.g. I browse to "E:" and click "Next" but Recuva will not proceed.  I suspect that the partitions must be "readable" (i.e. be formatted with a file system) for recuva to work whereas my partitions are seen as RAW (unformatted).
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 35512333
>> Did you use a product like TrueCrypt to encrypt the partitions?
No.

The partitions were fine one day, and then they were not the next.
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LVL 125
ID: 35512429
I've had great success with

@Active Partition Recovery

http://www.partition-recovery.com/

Disk Internals Partition Recovery

http://www.diskinternals.com/partition-recovery/

and

Data Recovery Wizard

http://www.easeus.com/

All products have worked very well for me.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 35512986
Recuva does not need the drive to be formatted to search for data on it.
Give a try to this one: GetDataBack www.runtime.org
Trial version will show if it is possible to restore data. It is the best recovery tool IMHO.
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Expert Comment

by:justadad
ID: 35517072
One question.  Have you tried to pick up the drive while it is running to see if it is spinning? I don't think it would know about both partitions without spinning but just in case.

You very well may have a drive that has died and need to ship it to a recovery location.  Also the case may have died in which case you need to pull out the drive from the case and insert it into another one.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 35517418
noxcho:
>> Recuva does not need the drive to be formatted to search for data on it.
Since "Next" wasn't getting me anywhere, I clicked "Cancel" and it dropped me in a "Piriform Recuva" window where I could select the drive letter and click "Scan".  The response was "Unable to read MFT" - so it looks like the MFT got trashed.  I suspect that Recuva would look for the backup MFT and so I suspect that got trashed too(?)

>>Give a try to this one: GetDataBack
Tried GetDataBack per dbrunton's suggestion.  It found one of my root folders but not the several dozen subfolders.  It also displayed several files and folders that I did not create e.g. $Extend.  I am reading up on GetDataBack to examine further.

justadad:
Yes it is spinning.  

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LVL 50

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 35517537
Also look at R-Studio http://www.r-studio.com/

Has a demo mode just like GetDataBack.
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Author Closing Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 35518125
GetDataBack found my data.  I just purchased.  Thanks to everyone for your posts.
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