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How to access a laptop drive via usb enclosure without formatting

Posted on 2013-06-11
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Last Modified: 2013-06-11
Hope someone can help me here.  I've got a Sata drive that used to be my laptop's main drive with Vista on it.  My laptop got a bigger drive and now runs Win 7.

I've recently got a USB Sata drive enclosure and have plugged it in to see if I can access the old files.  The drive comes up in My Computer, but if I try to open the main partition I get the message that it needs formatting.

In Computer Management the drive shows as three partitions: a recovery partition; a 100MB NTFS System Reserved Partition; and then a 229GB RAW, Healthy (Primary Partition).  Of course this last one is the one I can't access and need to!  I don't know why it would show as RAW rather than NTFS as it was previously working fine and I imagine was formatted as either NTFS or FAT32.

Any ideas how I can access the drive without formatting, or at least keeping files intact?

My only restriction is that I don't want to be shelling out on expensive recovery programmes if I might as well take it to a shop to do this.
Thanks
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Question by:colin_thames
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9 Comments
 
LVL 22

Assisted Solution

by:Haresh Nikumbh
Haresh Nikumbh earned 50 total points
ID: 39237264
try out with Recuva

its free recovery tool if its shows data then copy it on some other location

http://www.piriform.com/recuva
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LVL 19

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helpfinder earned 400 total points
ID: 39237267
try to run checkdisk with parameter F against the drive which contains your data - e.g. if it is G: then run chkdsk g: /f

probably you can try to put it as internal HDD into some PC. Then there is a chance content will be accessible, you can copy your files and then format the disk.



If you do not have possibility to use PC, you can still format the drive and when it appears as accessible use some file recovery tool (e..g. recuva) to recover your files, but this is kind a hardcore solution :)
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Author Comment

by:colin_thames
ID: 39237351
Thanks Guys for such a quick response.  I'll let you know what works

Takecoffe - I have downloaded Piriform Recuva and will use it if needed, thanks
helpfinder - I am running chkdsk currently which seems to be deleting thousands of index entries (a bit worrying) but I am hoping it will result in something readable at the end.  It's been running for 30 minutes now and no sign of an end...

Unfortunately I don;t have access to a desktop with a spare Sata bay/cable but I can always put the disk back into my laptop, provided it boots up OK and save files to a USB drive.  However, the object was to be able to connect it as a USB drive in its enclosure.

The next step is to see if I can recover my son's Mac hard drive using the same enclosure...
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LVL 49

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 39237385
You should not use chkdsk for this type of work.

Use either GetDataBack http://www.runtime.org/data-recovery-software.htm or Active @ Partition Recover http://www.partition-recovery.com/

Either software is free to try.  You pay for full functionality.  These two will either find missing files or missing partitions.  You can then copy the missing files to disk.

By running chkdisk you are upsetting the files on the disk and possibly making things worse.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 39237437
If it says it needs formatting then it means one of several things ... all bad.

1. catastrophic drive failure (not possible given other symptoms)

2. the enclosure has a built-in RAID controller or the controller the HDD was previously attached to had a built in RAID controller, so there is metadata at physical block zero.  (not possible given symptoms).

3. Most likely your laptop had encryption or it was set up, and the encryption was based, in part, on the serial# of the HDD.  If that is the case, you're screwed.  A USB-attached device emulates a SCSI target and the serial number won't be emulated properly.  You will have to buy a SATA controller that sticks in your laptop's expansion port (if such a thing exists).

If your laptop does not have an expansion port ... you are screwed and no way to do this unless you borrow a PC with SATA ports and do migration there.
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Author Comment

by:colin_thames
ID: 39237513
Thanks helpfinder, although chkdsk took over an hour to analyse and fix the disk it worked and all folders (I think) are available without formatting.  The disk partition now shows in My Computer as NTFS and I can browse it as normal.

However, the disk now shows as only 29GB in My Computer but as 220GB in the Computer Management screen (screenshot attached).  Any ideas as to why there is this discrepancy?
HDDInfo.png
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:Scott C
ID: 39237705
I would copy all of your data off of this drive immediately to another drive.  This drive looks very unstable and you could lose everything at any time.
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Author Comment

by:colin_thames
ID: 39237885
This is worrying.  The drive was fine when I removed it from my laptop.  I then left it in the drawer in an antistatic bag for about two years.  The only reason I upgraded it was to have a clean install of Win 7, without losing my files, and to have a slightly bigger drive.  There's nothing on the drive I particularly need.  Would you guys suggest I reformat the drive?
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LVL 31

Assisted Solution

by:Scott C
Scott C earned 50 total points
ID: 39237891
If there is nothing on the drive you care about, sure go ahead and give it a try.  Just know that all drives fail at some point or another.
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