Recovering Files from an External Hard Drive that Became RAW

This is not the first time that I had encountered this issue.

One day, we were watching a movie that is being played from my laptop through the TV. The file was played directly from my external hard drive. The warning for low battery appeared, I chose to ignore it as it was already close to the ending of the film. It will be over before my laptop drains to zero, I said to myself. Miscalculating the battery life of my somehow old laptop, it shut itself before the movie even finishes. Being hopeful that I can see the conclusion of the flick, I searched for my laptop charger and plugged it hurriedly.

I felt a slight shiver seeing that my hard drive become unusable. It got corrupted through that power failure. It still spins, and is still detected by the machine, although it cant see the files inside anymore.

Do not ever try to reformat the drive even when prompted by your computer. If you do this, you loose your files forever.

Looking at disk management, you will see that the drive becomes RAW

Every time this issue happens, my first workaround was to locate the missing partition “stuff” and restore it. It might got corrupted through the mishap. Most of the time, it works but when it doesn’t, and clearly the partition was lost forever and can’t be recovered/restored, here comes file recovery.

When looking for and trying to find the missing partition, I first try to use Minitool Partition Wizard. It worked for me some times when corruption isn’t severe. But if it isn’t able to fix the issue, I use TestDisk to search for the backup partition table with the files still intact and re-write it on the drive. If all else fails, (TestDisk unable to find a working partition) it is time to recover to the files and salvage as much as you can. I use PhotoRec here, the one bundled with TestDisk. It will take quite some time, but it is a free and powerful software so it is better than being left with nothing at all.

The files recovered will have a random file names. So if you have quite a collection of series, It might be hard to keep track of which episode is which anymore.

I thought I should write this here just to have some content for this site.

My friend had her external drive corrupted due to cable unplugging issues. I had the PhotoRec software running overnight, it is almost more than 12 hours and it is still on 4%. It has recovered 3815 files as of the moment and I now intend to stop this process.

I do not know if the non GUI version of the PhotoRec software performs better. I used that previously on my case.

On to fixing the drive, it is quite simple. Just reformat the drive as normal. Then copy the files over again. Plain and simple.

I should be charging for this technical help for my friend (even though the software used are free, electricity isn’t free by the way) but we are good people, we just love to help.

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