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Discussion Starter #1
For the past year, I've been using an external hard drive to store my personal stuff (pdfs, various documents, pictures, music, video, important software backups, etc.) and everything's been fine. It's a terabyte in size, but it was only half filled. When I plugged it into my laptop today to retrieve some stuff, Windows Explorer stopped running. When it finally started running, it told me that I would have to format the drive if I wanted to use it. In other words, it's telling me that there's nothing on there.

With the permission of my roommate, I plugged it into his laptop to see if that would work. I got the same thing happening on his. So the problem must be the drive.

Like I said, there's a lot of important personal stuff on there, and I'm rather bummed at this turn of events. Does anyone know if there's something I can do to retrieve any of the data that is hopefully still on there? Is it gone for good? If not something I can do, is there a place in Toronto in particular that I should consider taking it to? (It was purchased over a year ago, I believe, so Tiger Direct won't be taking it back.)

I do have a program called H2testw, which is a "drive capacity tester program". But the readme contents says, "_If_ the hardware is defective then H2testw is designed to find that defect and might as a side effect damage existing files. Therefore: IF YOU SUSPECT A USB STICK OR OTHER STORAGE MEDIA TO BE DEFECTIVE, EMPTY IT AND TEST IT COMPLETELY WITH H2TESTW. Only empty media can be fully tested with H2testw." I'm hesitant to use this program just yet as I might inadvertently damage some of my important files.

The drive is a 1 TB Fantom Drive. According to the Safely Remove Hardware window, it's a WD10EAVS-32D7B1.

Any ideas?

cheers,
supervij
 

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First, don't do anything until you've thought about it.

It is possible that the drive is fine but the circuit board inside the device is shot.

My suggestion would be to extricate the hard drive from the device and then hook the drive up as an internal drive inside a computer. If its the electronics then the drive might work fine as an internal drive.

IF that fails then I would consider taking it to an expert for data recovery. I think there are some threads about that around here. The question then becomes how much is it worth to you to have a professional service do it? Is it worth hundreds of dollars?
 

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supervij, If it is telling you to format the drive then it can see the drive. Most likely there was a corruption of the partition table information. Basically your drive "appears" to be not formatted, when in fact it is. It just needs to be reminded of that fact. :)

There are numerous tools that can peek at the data on the drive and either copy or repair the errors. I have repaired the partition table before. It was a few years ago so I suspect the tools are different now. But take Hugh's advice and read the threads before doing anything.

In any event you should prepare for this by buying another external hard drive that can hold all the data (min 1TB). If you are successful in repairing the drive then you can always keep the 2nd unit and lecture your friends on the importance of backups. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, I don't have any tools with which to open up the case. The box didn't include any, I don't think, and I'm sure I've thrown it away by now.

I tried reconnecting the drive to my laptop again, just to see if something different happens this time. I could hear the drive inside whirring around, and it made the same sounds it's always made when I first turn it on. But this time, the laptop doesn't see it at all. Usually when I plug it in, I hear the chime that indicates something's been connected and I get the little icon at the bottom that indicates the same. But after plugging it in and waiting for several minutes, nothing. I tried it in all three USB ports on my laptop, but nada.

Looks like what I'll have to do is to take it to a store and find out if they can open it up for me. At least before I look into data recovery. Thanks for the suggestion, hugh. :)

cheers,
supervij
 

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Do you have a Philips screwdriver? Most cases have two in the front or back panel. Slide out the chassis and disconnect the drive SATA/power cable and the the few screws holding it to the chassis. If you are not familiar with the process then a computer store can do that much for you.

Yikes. I just looked at those units online. Zero screws!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yup. No screws. Am I screwed? Well, there's an oval-shaped hole on the side and next to it is an icon of a lock with the number 1 inside it. What this means, I dunno. Looks like I'm going to the shops tomorrow!

cheers,
supervij
 

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I came across some user feedback for an external 2TB Fantom Drive which stated:
had to remove "Warranty void if removed sticker" to disassemble.
I don't know if this would apply to your drive.
 

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Assembly screws are often hidden behind rubber feet or rubber inserts. These will usually just pull off. As mentioned, stickers are another hiding spot. Some cases just snap together and pressure needs to be applied at certain spots along seems for disassembly. These can be a real PITA but I wouldn't be concerned about damaging the case. External drive cases are relatively cheap to replace.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I took it back to Tiger Direct and had one of their tech guys take a look at it. His computer didn't even see the drive, and we did a try a new USB cable, but nada. With my approval, he opened it up, and did some kind of diagnostic on it. He showed me the computer screen as the diagnostic was running -- the number of bad sectors (or whatever it is) was staggering. The number just kept going higher and higher, and this was after only scanning the first three megabytes!

He also suspects that the electronics were broken too, since his computer didn't even see the drive. I've pretty much accepted that I've lost everything (data recovery would cost a fortune, and I can recreate most of the lost info), and I just bought a new hard drive.

I know that hard drives can fail at any time due to bad sectors (or whatever), and it's usually down to luck, but it's still a bummer. Oh well. Guess that happens in the world of complex electronics.

Many thanks to all of you who suggested alternatives! :)

cheers,
supervij
 

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You might want to keep the case. If it was actually the drive that went bad, the case and its electronics might still be good (even though the technician said they looked bad).

If you can check out the case with a known working spare drive and it works, you could build yourself another external drive using a less expensive bare drive.

Maybe use it to occasionally back up the data on your new drive ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
nice idea, scotta! Thanks; I'll likely do just that. :)

cheers,
supervij
 

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Have I lost it all?

Last year I bought a Seagate 250gb portable external drive to offload some of my pictures and video from my laptop. I tried to access the drive this morning and I get “drive not formatted, would you like to format it?” I moved it over to my desktop, and got the same response. These are backups to my desktop, so it is not critical. However, I do know that formatting the drive will definitely lose everything. Ideas?
 

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External drives are cheap. I would get another drive quickly and back up your desktop so you have a viable backup.

I would only try to recover if there are files on the EHD that you need, otherwise, its probably not worth the hassle.
 

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Well, I have followed the Seagate site troubleshooting guide. Disk management says the drive is healthy. I switched cables with no change in result. Finally followed the Seagate support down to the end and it comes up with "recover files with software" $$$$$. :confused:
 

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I have taken your advice, Hugh, and ordered one of those "Clickfree" devices to get my backups in order again. Just when I was thinking of loading more stuff on to that crappy drive. There might have been some original copy video rips also on that drive but nothing too serious.

I spent quite some time on the Seagate site. The forums have a lot of people with issues on these small portable drives, and there doesn't seem to be any answers forthcoming. I bought the drive 11/27/09 and it is still under warranty but I bet they would say "nothing wrong".
 

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If the drive appears healthy (is it only testing the hardware?) then it is the data that is messed up. Have you tried any data recovery tools? There are hundreds available. It could be as simple as a bad MBR or partition table. These items can be repaired quite easily as the drive normally keeps a backup copy of the table in such emergencies.
 

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I downloaded "Seatools" from the Seagate site but setup exe. wouldn't load the software due to "??? wouldn't launch". I won't reformat or clean the drive in case I find something that will at least let me look at the file names and contents.

As Hugh says, these drives are cheap enough. This little drive is now $20 cheaper than from a year ago. But trusting them is another story. Having your backup crap out after 11 months is truly scary. Now I see why some people buy into these network storage boxes with numerous drives doing automatic backups of automatic backups.
 

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Disk management says the drive is healthy
If the drive is healthy Seatools can't really help you. Seatools checks the hardware. Download a software tool like this.

http://download.cnet.com/Easeus-Partition-Master-Home-Edition/3000-2248_4-10863346.html

But before you take any actions post back here the results of the Easeus Partition Master scan.

wouldn't load the software due to "??? wouldn't launch"
I have no idea what that means. Perhaps you do not have Microsoft .NET Framework v2.0 installed.
 
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