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External hard drive reported as RAW

by terryjon / July 31, 2007 6:13 PM PDT


I have a FAT32 formatted Western Digital external hard drive. I cannot access the drive.
Vista reports it as a RAW drive that needs to be formatted. I have no knowledge of formatting a drive.

I thought of taking a chance and formatting it. But I noticed further that the windows says the drive is totally empty.

When the drive was working pretty well it showed 60% filled. Where is my data gone.

Any advice suggestions tips that can relly help me.

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I'd start with ..
by Kees Bakker / July 31, 2007 7:57 PM PDT

connecting this drive to another PC (running XP maybe) and see what it says about it.

I can tell you how to do it in XP, but not in Vista, but I'm sure somebody else can, and - if necessary - they surely can in the Vista forum. That should be no problem.

After a format, all your data is gone. It seems gone right now, but it's possible (but not sure at all) a data recovery program will be able to recover it. Have a look at Bob's post (#4) in for example.

If it can't be recovered, it's gone. That's why it pays off to have a backup of data on an external hard disk. Even more than on an internal disk. External disks, especially if formatted FAT32, are more error-prone than internal disk, after all. A new external disk you buy most of the time is formatted FAT32. The first thing to do with it is reformat it NTFS. That's a tip for the future.


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That little problem is most often seen ...
by Edward ODaniel / August 1, 2007 6:44 AM PDT

as a result of someone making use of a "non-destructive" partitioning utility such as Partition Magic either in the initial oartitioning and formatting or in some subsequent attempt to resize a partition.

Depending on what all you have already tried, sometimes it is as simple as downloading and making use of Symantec's Partition Table Editor which you can obtain freely from links on this page -

Using PTEDIT32:

After downloading you run it and select the drive then select the specific partition (1, 2, 3, or 4) by clicking once in the Type box. At this point WRITE DOWN THE NUMBERS/LETTERS SHOWING IN THE TYPE BOX as you may want to return them later if resetting the partition type doesn't help you. Once this is done, click the Set Type button and since it was FAT32 that is what you want to set it to. Now click the OK button and then Save Changes.

If that doesn't work perform the process once more only this time choose the FAT32X and hopefully things will be back to normal. (also you will not have to write anything down because you already have the necessary information)

If not, perform the process once more only this time manually reset the partition type to what it was before (the numbers/letters you so carefully wrote down as instructed).

It should work but it is possible that the corruption has another cause but the final step of returning things to what they originally were ensures this will not hinder other possibly necessary measures if the data is that important.

Good luck!

PS - for the purists, yes we know that the numbers/letters mentioned are actually simply a number in hexidecimal notation but others might not see that while they will certainly recognize the description.

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Vista doesn't like fat 32
by anmor / August 1, 2007 10:19 AM PDT

if you have access to an XP computer use it to convert it to NTFS, this can be done without loss of files, but the process can not be reversed.

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