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It's a SimpleTech USB 320 GB external hard drive.

Today, it dropped on the floor. Immediately following, Windows 7 popped up a "Failed to install driver" notification, and the hard drive started clicking until ultimately it flatlined (no spinning or feeling in the drive when holding it).

Upon turning the product off then on, the drive inside spins and clicks for about a minute and dies again.

Plugging the USB into other machines does nothing - they all act as if there's nothing plugged in.

Is there any way to check if the USB plug-in is even being detected? And, given the information here, is it possible the data on the drive is still salvageable?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Since the hard drive inside started clicking, it sounds like you had a head crash.

My best recommendation is to pop open the enclosure and plug the hard drive directly into a computer, and try to read it that way. If you're lucky, the enclosure will have been damaged but the drive itself will be readable, and you can salvage your data.

If it doesn't read, you can try the freezer trick: put the hard drive inside a sealed plastic bag then into the freezer for around 20 minutes. Take it out and immediately plug it into a computer and try to read it. It sounds crazy, but I've successfully used this technique before to salvage data off a dying hard drive.

Otherwise, unless you're willing to pay for expensive data recovery services, it's probably lost.

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And by "expensive data recovery services" he means hundreds to thousands of dollars, IIRC. – irrational John Jul 4 '10 at 19:53
@irrational John: Yes; actually "thousands" is probably more likely than "hundreds"... – sleske Jul 4 '10 at 20:06

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