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Windows 7: External Hard Drive: Inaccessible

08 Feb 2013   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
External Hard Drive: Inaccessible

Greetings, Windows 7 Community. I have 2 external hard drives: Drive K and Drive L. I was working with some files on Drive C when the audio signal of an external device being added or removed sounded out of nowhere. Now, Windows does not recognize Drive L. When I try to access the drive, I am told that I must reformat the drive in order to use it. I also get an error message saying that the drive is inaccessible because of a "Data Error (Cyclic Redundancy Check)." I disconnected and reconnected the drive. No change. Then I tried to use the "Safely Remove Hardware And Eject Media" app. It said it couldn't eject the drive because it was "still being used by another device." It said that in order to eject the drive I would have to shut the app that was still "using" it. But I have no idea what could possibly be "using" it. I did several restarts and repeated these actions. Still nothing. What ever caused this did not effect Drive K, but I disconnected it just to be safe. This is a 3TB Drive and it is nearly filled with irreplaceable data. Please tell me there is a way to access it. Thanks.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

08 Feb 2013   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit

When you disconnected/reconnected Drive L, did you try using a different USB port? Do you have another USB cable you can use? Any luck in recognizing the drive?

It's possible that something might have happened to remove the drive letter from Drive L. With the computer turned on and with Drive L connected, could you post a screenshot of your Disk Management. It might give a clue as to why Drive L is no longer recognized. (Very important to follow the instructions in Step 5.)

Disk Management - Post a Screen Capture Image
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Feb 2013   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hi, Marsmimar. Yes, I tried connecting to a different port. It didn't work. Here is the screenshot. I hope it's correct. The disk label I use for it is LIBRARY L. It is now listed in Windows Explorer as Local Disk L. I tried to access the drive using Power ISO AND ISO Buster, but the drive will simply not be accessed. You say that the drive letter information could be changed. If that's the case, is it changed in Windows, or is the actual data corruption on the external drive itself?

Attached Thumbnails
External Hard Drive: Inaccessible-capture.jpg  
Attached Images
My System SpecsSystem Spec

09 Feb 2013   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Hi Roswell1701,

Your drive shows as RAW.

In addition, it shows CRC error, which is worrisome. However inasmuch as I do not know which program gave you that error, I shall sweep it under the carpet for now and pretend I have not seen it.

Now do not format your drive on any count. Do not run check disk which may further corrupt your files if indeed disk errors are being created. I am also deviating from my regular recommendation in such cases -of trying Partition Recovery Wizard in MiniTools Partition Wizard.

First try to access your external drive with a bootable Live Linux CD/pendrive and copy the data to another external drive. Backup all data in your pendrive before creating the bootable pendrive.

Download Lucid Puppy (Ubuntu-Compatible Build) v5.2.8 ISO from It is light and only 132.6 MB. ( Use the latest vesion available since versions change)

Make a Bootable pendrive with Rufus v1.3.1 (438 KB) It takes less than 2 minutes to create your bootable live Linux pendrive. ( Use the latest vesion available since versions change)

For more guidance on the recovery process directly get into the heading Recovering files from the non-bootable Internal Drive - applicable to recovery from any hard drive - in

Lucid Puppy way to recover files from a non-bootable computer

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You may also use this tutorial by Golden to create your bootable pendrive with Peppermint Linux. ( instead of using LiLi to create the bootable pendrive, you may also use Rufus as aforesaid)

- whichever is easy on you.

If it does not work, then PhotoRec, Test Disk but first try the above.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2013   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hi, Jumanji. I wish I read this earlier. About 5 hours ago I started iCare data recovery to find and hopefully fix what I have come to believe is a lost partition. At least that's what the screenshot I submitted would seem to suggest. I think we're both of the belief that the "raw" warning suggests that the disk might have been erased. For the record, the program used to deliver that reading was simply the Windows Disk Management system app. The scan is 1/3 complete. There are ten hours to go before I'm offered the opportunity to "recover" the lost partition, if that is in fact what it is. If I stop the process before time is up, will I still be able to follow your suggestions? Or am I hopelessly committed to what I'm doing? Either way, I appreciate your response.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2013   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

No. Do not stop now. Let it complete. Check the results and then we will see what we can do further. ( Since the hard drive still has a letter, it is not a case of lost partition.)

When Windows fails to see a valid file system, it reports it as RAW. The data is not wiped and still present in the drive. But CRC error as I said is a worry. It could mean that the disk has started deteriorating and corrupting the files/file system. In this case data recovery , taxing the drive as little as possible, is the first priority. The more you run the disk, the more will be the corrupted files.

In all such cases the recommended data recovery process is to clone the hard drive and do the data recovery from the cloned image. That maximises the chance of good data recovery.

(As one who had never tried it or looked into it, I feel not competent to advise any further on it. But I will be happy if other experts here come out and advise the methodology. We are now seeing more and more cases of CRC error and helpless.)

When it completes just change the USB cable and see whether it helps. ( In another thread carwiz has reported that a defective USB cable can cause CRC errors.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2013   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Yes, I did change the cable, but it didn't help. However, I agree with everything you have said. I've recovered many defective CDs and DVDs. That's why my first effort was to use ISO Buster and Power ISO. But in order to recover the data, one must first access the disk. I've been working on accessing the drive since yesterday morning, and the cigarette smoke is so thick in here that I can't see three feet in front of me. And if I drink any more coffee I think I'll puke. But it's encouraging that you think the data is still there. I can't think of any way I could have erased it. I had no intention of formatting, as I hoped the data was not lost. This partition program is the first ACCESS I have had to the disk at all. Now, when you say "check the results," do you mean I should go through with the recovery process, or will the program give me information on which to make a decision of weather to attempt recovery or not? If so, I will post the results for you. In the mean time, I've downloaded the software you've recommended. But it will take at least a few days for me to get a new hard drive. But if it means saving this data, I'll gladly be patient. As to your "competence," you are very knowledgeable and have been more than helpful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2013   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

It is not freeware and I think the trial version can only recover ten files/folders or something like that. Having taken the plunge, get what you can.

I think while you watch the scan progress, it may give an indication on the number of files it found and will show you the files only at the end on clicking Show me the files. And then you will perhaps be asked to pay $69.99 to recover them.

Instead you can try the Linux way, PhotoRec and Test Disk. Till you get another hard drive to back up here is some writeups that you can go through.

Guide to using PhotoRec recovery software.

Regain a lost drive using Test Disk - An Illustrated Guide

And a successful recovery here : Best recovery software? (Windows 7) (conditions apply. )

I am still hoping that someone here who has cloned and recovered comes up to help.

Note: Smoking is injurious to your computer . Even in the blistering Detroit winter, I used to wear my thermals, shoes, socks, cap, jacket and all, go out and smoke.

And I make my coffee the moka pot way. Buy a stainless steel pot and not an aluminium one to avoid the taste of metal.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2013   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Dude! The scan completed and my data is all there. Somehow, the FAT folders were either deleted or damaged, but they were detected. I've never used this program before. The selection process for recovery, while seemingly simple, was unfamiliar to me, so I wasn't about to take any chances; not with over 20,000 files which represent hundreds of hours of creative projects and archiving. If the drive can be accessed, the transfer of files is an easy process. Hopefully, the programs you've recommended will help me get the job done. Ironically, I was going to get a new drive this week because both of my external drives are full. Now I have to figure out how I'm going to scrape together the cash for two drives, because I'm going to trash this one after I retrieve my files. But the extra cost is not nearly as painful as it would be to loose all my hard work. You say this type of thing is becoming a common problem. I think it sucks! Once I get this taken care of, I'll email you to let you in on any useful information I gain in the process. Again, thanks for the help. I really appreciate it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 External Hard Drive: Inaccessible

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