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Trying to read exFAT hard drive with Windows 7

Posted on 2014-07-21
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Last Modified: 2014-07-22
I have a 3TB Samsung External hard drive with data on it that I need access too.  When I have the hard drive in the Samsung enclosure (with the little circuit board/controller board attached), my Windows machine can read it just fine.  It shows a large exFAT partition and I can see all the data.  For various reasons, I want to take the hard drive out of the Samsung enclosure and use as SATA to USB adapter that I have.  When I use the SATA to USB adapter, it recognizes the hard drive but Windows tells me that it needs to be formatted and I can't see the exFAT partition or the data.  Does the little controller board in the enclosure have some sort of translator function that enables this hard drive to ONLY be read in the native enclosure?  I tried another generic SATA enclosure device and that didn't work either.
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Question by:jbobst
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by:John Hurst
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If you formatted the drive on a Windows machine, go to Disk Management and see if it appears. It may need a drive letter.

If you formatted the drive on another machine (say a MAC), then you will not be able to read it.
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by:serialband
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Does your USB to Sata adapter come with a separate SATA power adapter?  The larger 3.5" drives need more power than the USB can output.  Those single USB to SATA cables with combined DATA & Power will only work on the 2.5" laptop drives.

You'll need something like this http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Adapter-Converter-Optical-External/dp/B001OORMVQ/ref=pd_bxgy_pc_img_y

You can't use this on the 3.5" drive. http://www.amazon.com/Patuoxun-Converter-Adapter-Cable-Drive/dp/B008ASF5MC/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1405987730&sr=1-1&keywords=usb+sata
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by:rindi
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This is probably a power issue. The original case probably provides enough power to the disk, while your other devices don't.
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by:web_tracker
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Both a mac and a windows base os should be able to read an exfat file system.  Is there any specific reason you formatted as a exfat system, were you trying to use the drive both on a mac and windows based system. If you have used it on a Mac can you read the drive using a mac based os?  More information on sharing a drive between a mac and windows based os can be found here.
 http://lifehacker.com/5927185/use-the-exfat-file-system-and-never-format-your-external-drive-again
If you can read the when it is in the enclosure and not outside it could be a power issues or it could be that the drive is not designed to work outside of the enclosure.
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garycase earned 75 total points
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Connect it to an internal SATA connection and you shouldn't have any issue.    I suspect your USB bridge devices don't support drives > 2TB (most likely).    It's possible there's some other issue related to exFAT, but I think the size of the drive is the most likely problem.
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by:serialband
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The other SATA enclosure may be an older model that doesn't recognize larger disks.  I don't buy enclosures anymore, since I don't need semi-permanent disk.  The cable is more convenient when you have a lot of disks to go through and you only have access to a laptop or you don't want to reboot your desktop.

If you have access to a desktop, you can get some longer SATA cables that you can pull out of the case.  Unfortunately, the older SATA motherboards still require a reboot to detect the drive on the SATA bus, but if it's the same brand and size, you can boot up once, and then live swap the disks.  You'd only have to reboot when you switch drive sizes or brands.  I used to do that with IDE and SCSI too.  There were a few systems (mainly HP) that would reboot if you pulled the IDE or SCSI chain, but the rest worked.

The newer USB to Sata cables should recognize drives larger than 2 TB.  The older ones might not.  I had an earlier USB 1.1 to IDE cable that definitely won't see the larger disks.

I don't remember having an issue with drive sizes on newer (<4 years old) USB to SATA adapters and I have used mine on 3 TB drives.  My older (>7 years) one doesn't recognize larger disks, but I remember that it gave a different error about not being able to ID the device rather than complain about formatting.

I get that format message if I plug in the data cable first and it gets detected before I plug in the power cable or I forget to move the power cable over from the other disk, or if the power cable wiggles loose from the power brick when I swap disks.  You'll also get that error if you use the laptop drive only adapter.  You can plug the power cable into it and the drive should detect.  You may have to reinsert the USB cable.
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by:jbobst
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Thanks for all the comments.  I think those of you that mentioned the size of the drive are probably correct.   To give some more details of the issue, this 3TB drive has data a client needs recovered.  However, they lost the power adapter to it.  I happen to have a similar power adapter, but I don't want to give it to the client.  I have a bunch of SATA to USB adapters I would sell/give to him and I figured I would just take the drive out of the enclosure and give him one of my SATA to USB adapters instead of them trying to find the right power supply.  Well, it turns out these power supplies are pretty common, so I'll just recommend they buy on (it's 12v 1.5amp).  I am aware that the small sata to usb adapters WITHOUT external power will not power a 3.5 "desktop" hard drive, and while I do have those adapters for my laptop drives, I am using externally powered SATA to USB adapters in this particular case.   The hard drive spins up, and windows see the disk in Disk Manager, but it says it needs to be formatted and there is no data or accurate partition information in disk management.  Yet, when I use the native enclosure on this 3TB drive (with the right power adapter) it shows up in windows just fine.  So that tell me that my SATA to USB adapters just can't support the larger drives.  And, my SATA to USB adapters are quite a few years old.   Thanks for all the help!
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