Corrupted HDD - no recognised file system

  jimforrest 19:23 05 Oct 2013

In Win7 Help I have been helped to reload Win7 after a crash. I did a new install and that worked fine. Now I need to copy my files across from the old HDD via a USB HDD reader - but a message appears telling me that the drive doesn't have a recognised file system! All it will let me do is format it. There are files that I need to recover (for business). Any ideas?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 22:27 05 Oct 2013

First try running chkdsk /f on it

  Woolwell 23:15 05 Oct 2013

No back-ups?

  jimforrest 23:25 05 Oct 2013

Chkdsk says the drive isn't formatted and gives only the option to format it. Under Drive F Properties (the old HDD) it says I can Back-up the files but when I click yes it actually backs up Drive C.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 23:53 05 Oct 2013
  onthelimit1 10:07 06 Oct 2013

This free programme has helped me to access partitions in this situation

  Secret-Squirrel 11:01 06 Oct 2013

Jim, it's likely that all or most of your data is intact. You will however need specialised software to recover it.

ZAR is a specific tool that may be able recover all or most of your personal documents. It can't repair your drive however. I've used it myself and I found it effective in similar situations to yours. There's a tutorial and link to the program here.


1) When you're recovering the data, save the files somewhere else - don't save them back to the same drive otherwise you'll overwrite files that are waiting to be recovered.

2) There are limitations to the demo version of ZAR - you can only recover four folders worth of data. However when the scan has completed you'll see a list of what it's able to recover successfully so you can decide whether it's worth spending $60 for the full version.

  jimforrest 17:56 06 Oct 2013

Fruit Bat's program is far too complicated for me - but the Zar prog looks workable Sec Sq. It has identified my drive type but has two listings for it - Under Disk 2 it gives the drive serial no and 698mb and then below that it shows NTFS 800mb. It doesn't explain the two enties (it assumes you know what you're doing!) Highlighting each one shows different data for each but with the same serial no - but I'm not sure which I should select to inspect. Can you enlighten me? As for the $60 - it's worth every penny to recover my files so no problem there. I will 'save' a couple of folders first though to see if I can use it and whether it works.

  Secret-Squirrel 18:32 06 Oct 2013

Jim, it's encouraging that ZAR can see the drive with your old data and has identified the file system as NTFS.

"Under Disk 2 it gives the drive serial no and 698mb and then below that it shows NTFS 800mb."

I'm not 100% sure but I reckon the NTFS 800mb is the one to select. Bear in mind that it could take many hours to build a list of recoverable folders and files.

Remember not to restore the data to the same drive - restoring to a drive in your PC is fine.

Best of luck - let us know how you get on.

  woodchip 19:31 06 Oct 2013

Try running TestDisk and see if it can correct the MBR on the drive

click here

  Secret-Squirrel 19:44 06 Oct 2013

Woodchip, look above and you'll see that Testdisk has already been suggested. The OP has said it looks too complicated and I have to agree that it's incredibly user-unfriendly.

The OP and I seem to be making some progress so let's see how he gets before suggesting any more confusing and complicated solutions.

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