Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The drive in question is a Lacie "iamakey" 16gb usb 2 drive which as of 24 hours was working, and hand been working for years - device manager in XP gives limited information for the items from the drop down box (I don't know of a way to get more detailed information --- perhaps the fact that device manager in windows gives limited information (or maybe is showing nonsensical hardware ID information such as:


will allow someone to pick up on a reason for the fault).

Windows 7 and Windows XP give a similar error messages when the drive is inserted into a usb port, to the effect of "The disk in drive X isn't formatted...".

Question restated is: How can I recover the data that's on it, or otherwise restore it to a working condition/figure out why it failed?

  • I've used different ports on different machines.
  • used testdisk: didn't find any partitions/wrote to MBR - problem still there
  • I elected to reformat the drive - after doing so, it now appears to work normally.
share|improve this question
Have you tried different ports? used different machines? used without a hub? – mdpc Feb 8 '13 at 20:25
Yes (added to question) – jhstuckey Feb 8 '13 at 20:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

TestDisk is a free program that can usually read the direct contents of a drive, even if the file table has been corrupted. It may be able to help you recover some of your files. Once recovered, you can try reformatting the drive to restore it to functionality. However, it could be that some component of the drive just died and you will not be able to resurrect it.

share|improve this answer
result of running that program was that it didn't find any partitions (did "look deeper" option); I used it to write to the MBR --- problem persists – jhstuckey Feb 8 '13 at 20:42
Out of curiosity, if you start to format it thru Windows (you don't have to complete it at this point) how big does it say the drive is? I had an 8GB drive fail on me and it reported itself as only 4 MB. Nothing I could do to bring it back at that point. – techturtle Feb 8 '13 at 21:10
It recognizes it properly. // If I tell it to format it, XP says "The drive in E cannot be formatted." – jhstuckey Feb 8 '13 at 21:43
Windows 7 formatted it - and if the problem was because the file table was corrupted, how would one have determined that and what might have caused it? – jhstuckey Feb 10 '13 at 22:32

Try photorec - this software will look through the entire drive trying to find meaningful information, regardless of whether its been deleted (or the filesystem has gotten corrupted). Its read-only, so it should not make things any worse - and its free. (See Note that the title is a bit misleading as it will recover many file types, not only images.

share|improve this answer
this said it found x number of files, but they were all output as gibberish text. – jhstuckey Feb 10 '13 at 22:30

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.