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So, I had a USB drive attached to my router as a poor-man's NAS. It has a VFAT filesytem exported over CIFS. Something went bad with a write and it will no longer mount.

1) Lion can attach to the drive, but it won't mount. Disk Utility/fsck_vfat won't do anything with it, saying it's beyond repair and reformat.

2) Ubuntu 12.10 can attach and mount, and see files (at least some, I didn't go over the whole disk). fsck.vfat says boot-block is bad, i try a copy, and then says it cant see all blocks. But repeated runs don't seem to fix any of these issues.

3) It won't mount in WinXP. I'm not sure how to run chkdsk on a non-mounted drive.

So, I'd like to recover this disk. I ripped a large amount of my CDs/DVDs to this drive and I'd rather not have to redo this. What are my options?

How do I run CHKDSK on a drive in XP that won't mount? I assume there still has to be some driver node in the kernel that I can use CHKDSK with.

Ubuntu was able to see some stuff, and fsck looked useful, but for some reason no repairs were actually done. I picked 12.10 because its got a relatively recent version of the vfat diskutils.

BTW: the drive content size is bigger than any spare disk space I have elsewhere. I thought of using Ubuntu as a fileserver for a temp copy, but I'd have to shuffle a lot and even then I'd need to triage what files I'm willing to lose.

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If you take the drive out of the USB enclosure and hook it directly to a computer, does the BIOS see it? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 3 '12 at 20:02
@techie007 the drive mounts on Ubuntu, so i don't feel i need to debug at the hardware level, Thanks though. – Rich Homolka Nov 5 '12 at 20:21

The easy option is to mount it from Ubuntu (after all you wrote Ubuntu 12.10 can attach and mount and see files. Try to copy all files. if that works just reformat the drive and copy the files back.

This option is possibly the least efficient solution, but it should work and you will end up knowing that all files are recovered (or at least readable).

Edit: I should read carefully. I missed the drive content size is bigger than any spare disk space I have elsewhere.. I am still in favour of this option. Even if you have to borrow a portable disk from a friend.

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