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Windows 7: External Hard Drive HELL (Unknown, Not Initialized)

01 Jul 2016   #1
Dolphin Tree

7 64bit
External Hard Drive HELL (Unknown, Not Initialized)

I had a WD 2TB external drive which I transferred successfully to a USB 3.0 enclosure months ago. Then I moved and the drive has been packed away in the trunk of my car since.

I just got it out as I need some files on it, and when I hooked it up it didn't work: the computer recognized it as a CD drive or something... in Computer it would not show up or show up as just a drive letter ... in disk management it said No Media. I tried it on another PC too to no avail.

After much research, the most likely solution looked to be to get a new enclosure. So I did, but the drive still isn't working, but in a different way.

When I first hooked it up, all looked well: the system tray showed correct recognition of the drive and enclosure type/brand and installed the drivers successfully.

But the drive no longer shows up in Computer at all, and in disk management it now prompts me to initialize the disk, and has it marked as Unknown, Not Initialized.

I have spent all day trying to fix this problem, and have read a million threads on different sites and tried everything, to no consequence. I need the files on the drive, and have tried all of the following:

- booting in ubuntu and knoppix via cd - drive is not recognized

- every major app for this type of problem i saw recommended: seagate seatools, partition wizard, wd data lifeguard diagnostics, power data recovery, find and mount, a bunch of stuff on hiren's boot cd, test disk, etc.

In most cases, the drive was not recognized at all. In a couple instances it was, but no scans were successful - they would instantly say failed, or complete instantly showing no results.

The drive sounds fine when it is turned on/hooked to the pc: it sounds normal, spins like it should, no weird noises.

I have no idea what to do. The only thing left that I'm aware of is to initialize it (against most of the advice I read) and hope it then at least gets recognized by some of the recovery apps.

But I don't want to lose my data and this seems like an absolute last resort.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jul 2016   #2

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Do NOT initialize it. With a usb stick or dvd Puppy Linux boot firmly in place ready to boot, can you reconnect the WD 2TB drive back to the computer like it was in the old days? Boot Puppy Linux, copy all the data folders and files onto another reliable external media. If that does not work, you might be heading for a local business-oriented computer fix-it place. However, let's see what others here might want to add.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2016   #3
Dolphin Tree

7 64bit

Hey Roland, I'm not sure exactly what you mean.

What I have done already is create both Ubuntu and Knoppix "live discs" and boot from them. The drive is not recognized in those environments.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Jul 2016   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

"I had a WD 2TB external drive which I transferred successfully to a USB 3.0 enclosure months ago."

OK, you transferred successfully.But were you able to read and write successfully after that??.That info is more critical than a successful transplant. Heart transplanted successfully but patient died due to incompatibility.:) )

Facts about WD external drives ( both Desktop and portable):

Except WD model Elements, WD Passport and Passport Ultra are hardware encrypted. The data that goes into the enclosure is encrypted by a chip in the enclosure electronics and the encrypted data is written into the physical HDD.( In the desktop variety external drives also except WD Elements all other models are hardware encrypted likewise) While accessing the data, that encrypted data flows through the same electronics inside the enclosure where it gets decrypted automatically. In view of this encryption/decryption by the enclosure electronics, You cannot put the physical HDD into another enclosure.

You are advised to return it to its original enclosure and try to access the data.

Now tell us the exact model of your WD external drive. Elements/Passport/My book ......... etc., just for our info. For anything other than Elements the above advice holds.

Even if it is Elements restore it to its original enclosure and check the results. ( We do not know the reason why you took the HDD out of the original enclosure and transplanted it into another USB 3 external enclosure)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2016   #5
Dolphin Tree

7 64bit

Hey Jumanji, the drive is a WD My Book I'm pretty sure. It's pretty old, I probably bought it 10 years ago.

I can't provide the exact model # right now, as it shows up in Device Manager as the enclosure model/brand name. But I'm pretty sure the model number is WDC something.

In any case, yes, it was working after I moved it into the USB 3.0 enclosure, which I did to improve the speed. Reading and writing, was working beautifully. I was so happy with the improved speed of 3.0.

The original WD enclosure is long gone, however, given the successful transplant, WD encryption does not seem to be the issue.

FWIW the first replacement enclosure was Inland brand from Microcenter I believe. The new/current one is this
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2016   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

OK, you probably had a pre-historic vintage :) WD external that didn't have hardware encryption.

You may now run Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows and check the health of your drive. Software and Firmware Downloads | WD Support

If the drive is not recognised, take it out of the enclosure, hook it up as an internal drive with direct SATA connection to the motherboard on a Desktop and check whether the drive is accessible.

If not run Data Lifeguard Diagnostic again now on the internal drive. If still it is not recognised, end of the story.

If the manufacturer's diagnostic program or any other Data Recovery software fail/s to recognise the now internal drive, no DIY data recovery is possible. It becomes a case for Professional Data Recovery.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2016   #7
Dolphin Tree

7 64bit

I ran wd dld already (and a host of other top apps), and the drive either wasn't recognized, or tests/scans weren't successful (they would just "complete" instantly and provide no data).

I have a super old, extremely slow XP desktop around. I will try connecting the drive via sata, and running dld if necessary.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2016   #8

Windows 7 x64

Hi Dolphin Tree

Most of these such issues are due to compatibility.
Whenever you buy product such as enclosure, do take note on the specification and/or the limit on hard disk storage.
Some enclosure may not be compatible to new &or hard disk which is 2 TB hard disk.
Not necessary new enclosure can detect and use 2TB HDD.

Also if the OS can detect the enclosure (window driver), But the hard disk and consider as Unknown, Not Initialized.
This mean that the enclosure is fine, but unable to read the hard disk because the enclosure is not capable to handle 2TB HDD.
Need to get an enclosure that can handle 2 TB hard disk.

I would consider that the data is still safe and able to read.

Most of all Hard disk are formatted in Windows or Mac, it is stated clearly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2016   #9
Dolphin Tree

7 64bit

Thanks Eric. The specs on the new/current enclosure state that it can handle drives up to 8TB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2016   #10

Windows 7 x64

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dolphin Tree View Post
Thanks Eric. The specs on the new/current enclosure state that it can handle drives up to 8TB.
Don't use enclosure.
Use cable only.
You hard disk is internal SATA hard disk, right.

Go to IT shops to get this Cable only connection.

In the IT shops, you need is the Cable SATA to USB connector
The staff should know.
Without any enclosure.

Cable SATA connect to HDD SATA connector.
The other end, cable USB to computer USB.
It has to be a complete set with power adapter & cable.
SATA short is the power, which connect to power adapter.
It is cheap and easy to connect.
The best part is no limit on the GB.
But USB will use the generic windows driver.
There will not have any issue, been using this for 20+ years since from PATA to SATA & USB.

For 5" HDD, external power adapter is required.
For 3.5" HDD, same as normal enclosure, no need power.

I always use this for ad hoc connection.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 External Hard Drive HELL (Unknown, Not Initialized)

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