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External HD Corrupted?

yet another ugly life lesson!

11:44 pm on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My older external 60GB NTFS USB HD is not showing up in MyComputer, and I suspect file corruption (I am running Win 7 on a laptop ~ I have used about 30GB of the storage). The icon IS showing in Device Manager and in Devices & Printers, but is not at the top of Disk Management (however it is listed, incorrectly, at the bottom). I say incorrectly because it is 60GB but Disk Management is displaying 512GB, Unallocated.

My question is this: Will unmounting the device help when I run chkdsk G: /f/r?

When I now run chkdsk G:, it goes go through the routine and provides data regarding the number of files (294912), the total disk space, etc. And, incredibly, it ends by saying "Windows has checked the file system and found no problems".

But when I run chkdsk G: /f/r, I get "Cannot open volume for direct access", so I'm wondering if I need to unmount the volume? (I did try chkdsk G: /x, but had no success).

If unmounting will help, is there any other way to unmount an external (and undetected) HD, so I can run chkdsk with /f/r?

Thanks for your considerations........


This is probably more additional information than necessary, but for the record, I spent hours running queries in regards to repairing an external HD so I could recover as much of the data as possible. In reading page after page, I kept a list of recommended file repair/recovery programs. When I checked each of them out, if any had a free trial then I afterwards downloaded and tested (4 or 5), but had no luck ~ this included trying to repair the partitions, making a disk image, etc.

I would name some of them here but am not sure if that is allowed.

So I'm at my wits end. I suspect the drive is a goner, but since chkdsk did in fact run, and brought back information, I'm hoping that taking the /f/r next step might help. If not, the drive is going into a zip lock bag and into the freezer overnight (yes, I DID see that as a last ditch effort that apparently worked for some people!).

9:59 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I've just been restoring a system with a corrupted drive, but I have 3 external cloned backups (which include the OS and applications) that I rotate, with one always in a bank vault. In addition, I have an extra drive in the machine simply for incremental data backups in native format. I've gone to the most recent clone for a new drive, which is current running on an outboard sSATA cable.

My experience is that chkdsk does not necessarily show up flaws that the Western Digital diagnostic utility shows clearly.

Actually, Acronis, which I use for clones, is a very sensitive barometer to problems on the source drive. I'm now looking for a gentle defragging utility.

For data recovery, a problem I didn't have to deal with but thought I might, I'm going to mention Spinrite, which has been mentioned a number of times favorably here. As I read critiques of it, though, I'm less sure it should be used on a failing drive, as it's apparently really rough on the drive heads, doing many passes on a bad sector to see if it can extract a statistically meaningful indication of possible data. It may be that this is acceptable if the drive is failing anyway, but I read a lot of skeptical reviews about the use of Spinrite on modern drives.

It's apparently also years old at this point, and is reported to be very slow. At the same time, I know members (and mods) here who have had very favorable results with it. For an old 60GB drive, it may be ideal.
1:46 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

1st off you need to crack it open and get the drive mounted on a real sata drive controller.

there are lots of commands that can't be passed over USB, so don't try any type of disk recovering over USB.
6:29 am on Aug 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Thanks Robert & J_RaD for this very valuable insight. I have given up on any program retrieving the data from the USB drive, so the suggestion to connect to a sata drive is the next step. In the "old" days when external harddrives were the size of small phone books I knew how to pull out the actual drive and connect it to another enclosure, but I'll be in uncharted territory when it comes to this little USB WD Passbook. My neighbor however worked in a computer repair shop when he was young, so I'll ask him to guide me through the process. If it works, I'll post the results, and will burn incense in your honor....


ps. In all the online reading I did ~ and it really was a lot ~ not a single person indicated that some commands cannot be passed over USB, so I still hold out a glimmer of hope.

3:01 am on Aug 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

yesssss words straight from a hard core data recovery guy, there are commands that don't go over USB.

and in fact step one was to bust that baby open and don't try jack Sh*t over usb. That wasn't even on the dinner menu.. EVER.

you never recover data over usb.. E-V-E-R... well that is if you really wanna get your stuff back.

maybe that isn't par for generic "programs' but the real deal guys go native and pass commands right over the controller to find your stuff.
4:13 am on Aug 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This is one of those "learning experiences" that in all candor I could do without, but on the other hand, we rarely learn anything when it all goes easy.

Thanks again for the advice.

Quick Update: This was an old (about 5-6 yrs) WD 160 Passbook external. After my posting here my neighbor cracked the case on it and put the drive into another enclosure, but no go. Because I work on a laptop and admittedly don't know how to connect the drive directly into my computer, outside the USB, it's probably a goner.

The guy at the Geek Squad said I was lucky to get this far without a problem. In his words, "a harddrive starts dying the minute you plug it in". Live & learn.

I ended up getting two 500 GB drives, rather than 1 TB, as it seems to me that may be a safer way to go. Both together came to $100. Then I had a moment of luck ~ the first ~ when I found that I must have initiated a backup with Norton a few months ago (had forgotten) onto an even older 80 GB external, so that restored a bunch of stuff that I thought was gone forever. Thank the Gods for small favors.

Now I have two new drives and 2 backup programs, because to paraphrase Pete Townsend, "I won't get burned again"...


(or so he says!).
3:23 am on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

well if all you have is a laptop then you couldn't have done it anyway, gota bust out the desktop for that kinda stuff :-)

drives die many diff ways, so starts to die right when you plug it in is kind of a b/s line... but you said geek squad so i'd expect nothing less.

more times then not you can bring them back to life long enough to get stuff off, or if you are exp enough to see the warning signs you can jump ship before it takes its final leap.

for backup, i'd just say image that baby once every few days depending on how you work. Lots of ways to slice it.