External USB drive not showing in Explorer

SuperFuzz

The Patriot
Power User
I am experiencing the same problem as listed in other posts on this topic, but with a twist that is keeping me from resolving the problem.

I have a 160gb WD USB external drive of my brother's that I'm trying to save for him, and we're experiencing all of the same symptoms as the other posts on this topic. The drive is automatically recognized when plugged in, drivers auto install, windows correctly identifies the drive and gives full drive name, device manager says it is there and operating properly etc etc, but the drive is not listed in windows explorer as others report. When I try to change the drive letter in disk management as the many other posts suggest, changing the name is not an option for this drive. My only options for the afflicted drive are "New simple volume", "New spanned volume" and "New striped volume" and of course properties.

Here are a list of fixes I have tried without success.

1. Tried different USB ports and different USB cable.
2. Tried 4 different machines running Vista Ultimate SP1 (Desktop Core i7 6gb RAM), Vista Basic (Desktop Core 2 Duo, 4gb RAM), Vista Home Premium SP1 (Laptop Core 2 Duo 2gb RAM) and XP Home SP3 (Laptop Celeron 512gb RAM)
3. Stopped device with "safely remove hardware", uninstalled through device manager, rebooted with device connected.
4. Renamed hard drives and optical drives to x-z to make D-G available to afflicted drive.
5. Repeated all steps with hard drives and optical drives assigned new drive letters.
6. Edited registry and removed all entries under hkey_local_machine/system/mountedDevices referring to all but hard drives and optical drives.
7. Repeated all steps again with registry entries removed.

After everything, windows still detects and installs the drive, device manager says it's there etc etc but I can not assign the drive a new letter or get it to show up in explorer.

It looks to me like if I set up a new volume on the disk, it will be recognized and possibly work correctly, however to do that the drive has to be formatted, which is not an option since my brother's backup data is on that drive and the original data was lost from his hard drive when the motherboard shorted out.

I've searched the web high and low and tried every fix with exception to pulling the drive from the enclosure (sonic welded sealed plastic enclosure so I can't try that) but nothing is working. Does anyone have something else to try short of professional data recovery?

Vista Ultimate SP1
EVGA X58 motherboard
Core i7 940 2.93ghz
6gb OCZ Gold 1600mhz tri channel
3 SATA HD & 2 IDE optical (drive letters C-G)
 

My Computer

lordbob75

Lord of Bobs
Vista Pro
Gold Member
Well since it doesn't seem to work in any computer, this is a problem with the drive. Are you sure that it is still good?

What was the computer running that it first worked with?

Is it FAT or NTFS?

~Lordbob
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Custom
    CPU
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS P5QC
    Memory
    2x2GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVidia GeForce 9500GT 1Gb
    Sound Card
    Mobo
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 206bw
    Screen Resolution
    1680x1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SP2514N ATA 250Gb 7200RPM
    Samsung [Model] 1Tb 7200RPM SATA2
    PSU
    Cooler Master Real Power Pro 750W
    Mouse
    Razer Lachesis
    Keyboard
    Razer Tarantula
    Internet Speed
    not fast enough

SuperFuzz

The Patriot
Power User
I considered that either the drive could be bad or the data could have been lost due to magnetism or something else. Since windows recognized and installs it, the device manager says it is working properly and disk manager offers the ability to format it and create partitions on it, I believe the drive is still functional though.

Unfortunately my brother is not an enthusiast user and doesn't know what file system was used to format the drive. He was using Vista when he purchased and first used it and was using Vista SP1 when he last used the drive a few days ago (it was working fine then). My assumption since he's been using the drive with Vista since he bought it is that it was formatted NTFS since that is the default in Vista, but that is just a guess since he didn't pay attention when setting the drive up.
 
Last edited:

My Computer

lordbob75

Lord of Bobs
Vista Pro
Gold Member
It should be NTFS. Load disk management and check to see what it says there.

That's odd that it does not work. Do you have the same problem with other removable drives? I.E. Flash and other RHDDs?

~Lordbob
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Custom
    CPU
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS P5QC
    Memory
    2x2GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVidia GeForce 9500GT 1Gb
    Sound Card
    Mobo
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 206bw
    Screen Resolution
    1680x1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SP2514N ATA 250Gb 7200RPM
    Samsung [Model] 1Tb 7200RPM SATA2
    PSU
    Cooler Master Real Power Pro 750W
    Mouse
    Razer Lachesis
    Keyboard
    Razer Tarantula
    Internet Speed
    not fast enough

SuperFuzz

The Patriot
Power User
Nope, all other removable drives work just fine and his is the only one with an issue. Unfortunately the only option disk management gives me on his drive is to format the drive and gives no information, such as current file system, drive letter or ability to rename the drive or anything. That's why I'm suspecting something has wiped the drive clean. Vista & XP both are treating it like a brand new green drive that's never been formatted or used. I was just hoping somebody could think of something I hadn't that might lead to saving the data, short of expensive professional data recovery.
 

My Computer

patio

Vista Pro
Gold Member
So if you right click the drive in Disk Management and select Properties are you saying it gives no info ? ?

If it shows as RAW then it was unplugged prematurely and the data is gone.
 

My Computer

System One

  • CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Motherboard
    ASUS P5K MBoard.
    Memory
    4G OCZ PC2 8500 Platinum
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA 8800GTS Vid Card
    Hard Drives
    500G Seagate SATA
    200G Seagate SATA
    100G WD Caviar SATA
    80G WD Caviar IDE
    PSU
    OCZ Elite 800W PSU
    Case
    RaidMax Smilodon Case
    Other Info
    Lite-On dual layer DVD burner X 2
    Dos 6.2;Win2K;XP; &
    Vista Ultimate 64Bit.

SuperFuzz

The Patriot
Power User
That's not what I meant, sorry. The disk shows as unallocated in disk management, with no drive letter, file system or anything else aside from drive size. When you right click on it, it does not come up with the option to rename it and also does not have the majority of other menu options the other drives have. The only options are "New simple volume", "New spanned volume" and "New striped volume" and of course properties.

Properties correctly identifies the drive as a WD 1600BEV External USB Device, says it's working properly, lists partition style as basic MBR and has capacity and unallocated space available. With it showing the entire drive as unallocated and the only menu options being new drive setup options, I'm sure his data is gone. I was just grasping at straws here to see if someone had an idea I wasn't thinking of in case the data was still there and there was a way to get windows to recognize the drive to recover it.
 

My Computer

SuperFuzz

The Patriot
Power User
My brother called me this morning and said he thinks he knows how the drive was possibly damaged. He said he was building a secondary system for his kids to use out of the old parts from rebuilding his computer, and was setting up that system with XP. During setup, XP setup prompted him to format a drive so he could use it and he assumed it meant the hard drive he was installing XP on and authorized the format. He forgot to unplug the External drive though and midway through the format he remembered and just yanked the USB cable to make sure it wasn't formatting the external drive. He said the drive hasn't worked since doing that, so I'm pretty certain that's when and how the damage was done, either by that being the drive he was formatting or by yanking the cable without using "safely remove hardware". I've referred him to Geek Squad for professional data recovery and hopefully they can save his 4 years worth of pictures of his kids that he had saved on it. Goober!

Thanks for the ideas and attempts to help folks.
 

My Computer

lordbob75

Lord of Bobs
Vista Pro
Gold Member
Yeah pulling a drive like that is bad. That is most likely the cause of the problem, and only a pro data doctor can get that out.

~Lordbob
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Custom
    CPU
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS P5QC
    Memory
    2x2GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVidia GeForce 9500GT 1Gb
    Sound Card
    Mobo
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 206bw
    Screen Resolution
    1680x1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SP2514N ATA 250Gb 7200RPM
    Samsung [Model] 1Tb 7200RPM SATA2
    PSU
    Cooler Master Real Power Pro 750W
    Mouse
    Razer Lachesis
    Keyboard
    Razer Tarantula
    Internet Speed
    not fast enough

SuperFuzz

The Patriot
Power User
Well my brother took the drive to Geek Squad and they quoted him between $400-$1500 to recover his data. He kept the drive and took it home and used disk manager to create a new simple volume on it, but told it not to format the drive during setup. That allowed him to assign it a drive letter, but the data was still not accessible. I did some research for data recovery software and Maximum PC recommended Quetek's File Scavenger ($49), so I had him try that. He used it to scour the drive and File Scavenger not only was able to find and save all of his photos and documents, but even saved the system backup he had saved to the drive.

So, if you run into this unfortunate situation, DON'T take the drive to Geek Squad. They'll try scamming you out of $1500 when you could spend 50 bucks and save your data yourself!
 

My Computer

patio

Vista Pro
Gold Member
Actually considering what it went through it's impressive he got any data back...
Good News.
 

My Computer

System One

  • CPU
    Intel Q6600
    Motherboard
    ASUS P5K MBoard.
    Memory
    4G OCZ PC2 8500 Platinum
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA 8800GTS Vid Card
    Hard Drives
    500G Seagate SATA
    200G Seagate SATA
    100G WD Caviar SATA
    80G WD Caviar IDE
    PSU
    OCZ Elite 800W PSU
    Case
    RaidMax Smilodon Case
    Other Info
    Lite-On dual layer DVD burner X 2
    Dos 6.2;Win2K;XP; &
    Vista Ultimate 64Bit.

lordbob75

Lord of Bobs
Vista Pro
Gold Member
Good job fighting GS! I have looked at their prices, and for $150 to set up a computer, I could do that for half that and make a fortune! I busted my comp one day, and mom took it in to GS, and they charged $70 to tell me that nothing was wrong. The computer didn't start up..... Naturally, I fixed it myself within the week.

Good job getting the data back btw.

~Lordbob
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Custom
    CPU
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS P5QC
    Memory
    2x2GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVidia GeForce 9500GT 1Gb
    Sound Card
    Mobo
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 206bw
    Screen Resolution
    1680x1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SP2514N ATA 250Gb 7200RPM
    Samsung [Model] 1Tb 7200RPM SATA2
    PSU
    Cooler Master Real Power Pro 750W
    Mouse
    Razer Lachesis
    Keyboard
    Razer Tarantula
    Internet Speed
    not fast enough
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