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When I plug my Western Digital 500 GB Passport disk in my Windows machine, it says "not formatted, do you want to format it" something. I started having this problem after I put it in an old desktop at home. I don't exactly know what went wrong. May be partition table is corrupted etc. Questions:

Some quick search on internet tells me there are partition fixing utilities, which can fix corrupted partition table. testdisk being one of such utiities. I can understand how to use this to copy files from the disk to some other location, but I would like to fix the partition table in-place so that I don't have to temporary move around my data of approx size 300GB, then format passport disk and then again bring back the data. Is there any way I can fix the partition table in-place?

Also, how to know which file system was there originally in the disk? Can I only keep the same file system?

My current laptop is running Windows 7. Earlier I used to use Windows Vista. My other laptop has Windows XP. So I have access to Windows 7 and Windows XP.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can try TestDisk to see if you can fix the partition table and recover your data.

TestDisk is powerful free data recovery software. It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table). Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy.

TestDisk can

  • Fix partition table, recover deleted partition
  • Recover FAT32 boot sector from its backup
  • Rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector
  • Fix FAT tables
  • Rebuild NTFS boot sector
  • Recover NTFS boot sector from its backup
  • Fix MFT using MFT mirror
  • Locate ext2/ext3/ext4 Backup SuperBlock
  • Undelete files from FAT, NTFS and ext2 filesystem
  • Copy files from deleted FAT, NTFS and ext2/ext3/ext4 partitions.

TestDisk is free and open source software.

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I would recommend downloading Hiren's Boot CD ( ) as it is packed with many data recovery and disk testing tools. There should be something there that will give you the information you need and hopefully help you recover your data.

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Its possible the enclosure ata to usb chip has failed, removing the drive from the enclosre may allow you to see your data without monkeying with partitions and possibly doing further damage to the file system.

Remove the hard drive from the enclosure

Google "disassemble remove hard drive < model of enclosure >"

Once the hard drive is removed connect it to another PC using a usb to hard drive adapter.

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