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I have a Seagate FreeAgent Portable Drive.

It was fine yesterday night when I was using it but this morning when I plugged it in, my computer didn't autoplay it and when I clicked it on the computer, it didn't want to open.

Five restarts later on my computer and it still didn't want to. Now, my laptop is telling me to format it. I have so much on it and I don't want to lose them. My brother told me it might be corrupted but is there any way for me find out if it isn't and if I can still get the data inside and not need to format it?

And if it's a lost cause now, how can I prevent this from happening again?

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Does the drive itself spin? Like … do you hear it? – slhck Oct 1 '11 at 8:59
Yeah, I hear it. – Tri Oct 8 '11 at 11:56

is there any way for me find out if ...I can still get the data inside?

You could open up the case, remove the hard drive and attach it directly inside another computer, or buy (or borrow) a USB to IDE/SATA adapter or enclosure.

And if it's a lost cause now, how can I prevent this from happening again?

Important data should always be stored in at least two places. I backup everything important every day. I used to use tapes but nowadays I mostly use a combination of external disks and copies to other computers. It is still important to keep at least one copy in a different building.

With USB attached storage, always use the operating system's tools to make the device ready for removal before unplugging it or turning it's power off.

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Last time mine did that I had to put it in the refrigerator then put it on Ice while I got my data copied off of it, then shipped it in for warranty replacement. I think the hard drive was fine, just a usb controller gone nuts.

enter image description here

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