External usb hard drive showing as unformatted

  howard64 17:22 08 Oct 2007

My external usb hard drive was connected to a pc which crashed. On rebooting and trying to use the drive it tells me it is not formatted. Do you know anyway to recover the data? It was my main backup and contains a friends itunes collection and guess what his pc has died. I can only assume that the mbr has been garbled but know no way of getting in to rewrite it. It is a Maxtor 320GB. Any suggestions gratefully received. Thanks in advance.

  The Kestrel 17:27 08 Oct 2007

Don't know whether this may help click here but worth a read.

  [DELETED] 17:34 08 Oct 2007

Lets ignore the warnings for a minute.

Goto Disc Management and plug in the drive.
Does the drive appear ?

if so, you maybe able to save some of the data,but no promises.

Drive Rescue click here
click here

  howard64 12:34 09 Oct 2007

thanks for the info - I have tried all suggestions but nothing has worked so far.

  [DELETED] 17:09 09 Oct 2007

Had a problem like this before, the usb drive did not mount on win or macintosh machines. The only machine that could mount my drive was linux ubuntu. There's Probably a way of doing on windows, but dont know how. click here

  howard64 10:23 10 Oct 2007

does anyone know of a cheap or free prog that can write an mbr to a usb external drive? Using the demo of a £300 prog I can see that the files are still intact but I need something that could either write an MBR or copy all the files off.

  [DELETED] 11:03 10 Oct 2007

Just to point out that it's safer to copy the files off first, before or instead of trying to recover the drive by writing to it.

If you can't see the drive in Disk Management, it suggests that something else is wrong besides the MBR.

  howard64 11:06 10 Oct 2007

good morning UncleP as I said at the begining the drive is being correctly identified but shown as unformatted. I am being offered the chance to format it but that will loose everything on it. Also using the demo of a £300 prog I can see that the files are still intact showing that nothing else appears to be wrong with the drive.

  [DELETED] 18:29 10 Oct 2007

My apologies - I had mis-interpreted your reply to skidzy's post as meaning that you had not found an entry for your drive in the Disk Management list. Clearly if, as you state in your opening post, the OS reports that it is unformatted, that is unlikely to be the case. That message is, in my view, extremely misleading; in most cases, as you have found, the files are still there and formatting is the last thing you want to be encouraged to do.

The Disk Management entry is valuable in that it contains diagnostic information on the condition of the drive. For example, I believe that if the File System is given as RAW and the Free Space as 0 bytes, the fault is indeed a corrupted MBR.

I had a similar problem to yours about two years ago, when I mounted a HD from an old computer in a USB2 caddy. I had backed up the important files but wanted to check to see if there was anything else of interest present. I suspected that the damage to the MBR found was due to the imminent failure of the HD, and I might have only one or two attempts to read off the remaining data. I used a low-level (sector by sector) data recovery program (Easeus Pro 3.0, price $80) to copy the data to another HD and piece the files together. Three days later the old HD went belly-up.

In many cases the HD may still be sound but, as I said above, it's better not to take the risk if it really matters.

  The Kestrel 20:10 11 Oct 2007

If the files on the HD you need are not corrupted, I think PC World may be able to copy them onto a CD or DVD for you. I took my son's damaged HD along to them and they were able to rescue some important university project files.

  howard64 11:28 20 Oct 2007

thanks to Easeus Data Recovery Wizard I was able to recover all the data from the external hard drive. I could not find anything that would rewrite the master boot record. So after recovering the data I reformatted the drive and everything is now back to how it was before. Thanks to all those who offered advice.

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