a friend has 2 Lacie external hard drives containing nearly all of his photos. It appears that both drives are now empty. Any suggestions on what his first move should be to try and recover the photos.
If warranty isn't an issue, the first thing would be to take the drives out of the external enclosure. You need to check to see if the enclosures or USB are screwed up as well. Hooking the drives directly to the PC using a SATA cable will show that straight away. If you can see the drives and the data, then the enclosure or USB cable is broken. If this doesn't work, hook them up to a PC and using the Hirens Boot CD 10.6 (has to be 10.6 or earlier), run one of the hard drive test tools. My personal choice is the Seagate Seatools one. This will tell him if the drive is faulty or not. If the drive comes back ok, then maybe try a recovery program such as Recuva to see if you can see any data. The only major issue there may be right from the beginning is if the external drives have been RAID 0'd then you may not be able to get anything back at all. The only other alternative I can think of would be to send them to a data recovery specialist which could cost a few quid.
It is better to use a third party photo recovery software to recover software from external hard disk. I have used Kernel for Photo Recovery software when i lost my photos accidentally few months ago. It works rally amazing and recovers all my photos on a single mouse click. You can find it from click here