Oh No! My External HD is Corrupted!!!

I know my blog has been focused on higher education and social media, but I have to relate an experience and share a great product that saved me… and my data!

I have an 120 GB external hard drive that I’ve been using for the past 4+ years to store all our family photos, videos, web files, etc.  Today I noticed that I couldn’t access the drive.  Windows said that it was not formatted and asked me if I wanted to format it.  Oh No!  My external HD is corrupted!!! Years of memories down the drain.  What was I going to do?  How was I going to tell my wife that we’ve just lost 4 years of memories?

I Googled for a solution to my serious problem and came across TestDisk by CGSecurity.

TestDisk is an open source application that was primarily design to recover lost partitions and make non-bootable disk bootable again.  I am still not sure what is wrong with my external HD, but I was able to recover the files.  CGSecurity also makes a program called PhotoRec which is suppose to recover photos and other files.  I tried this, but it seemed to rename the files and I don’t think it retained the file structure.  There may be a way to use it better, but nevertheless, I will show you how I recovered my files from my corrupted external HD.

  1. Download TestDisk
  2. Start TestDisk (no installation needed, just run from the folder)
  3. Either create a new log file, or append to an existing one
  4. Select the corrputed HD from the list
  5. Select the partition type
  6. Select “Analyse” from the menu
  7. Select “Quick Search” from the menu
  8. Select Y or N if the partition was created under Windows Vista
  9. Enter “P” to show files
  10. Use the up/down arrow keys to navigate to the folder or files you want to copy
  11. Enter “c” to copy the file/folder
  12. Select Y or N to copy the file/folder to the default directory (inside the TestDisk folder)

This may seem like a lot of steps, but it is very straight forward.  If you need any assistance, you can either check out the TestDisk website or contact me.

TestDisk has saved my files, and I hope that it can help you too… if you need it… which I hope you don’t.

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  • Tyler

    Good stuff Mike!
    I also want to mention all the great services for storing photos and files online, like Dropbox, Flickr and Picasa. Dropbox gives you 2GB of free storage that will sync across multiple computers and to the cloud, it even has a photo album feature.

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    These services would do OK for sharing files, but our photos folder alone is 11 GB. I’m just really happy I found a tool to do it without having to take it to a recovery company and pay a fortune.

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