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A friend gave me his "broken" external-usb-hard drive which contains important stuff. So I plugged in the usb into my (linux-)notebook and ran dmesg.

The output shows, that the OS wasn't able to detect any partition or even mount the disc. It was full of error-messages all beginning with blk_update_request: I/0 error, dev sda ....

My first try was to run ddrescue -n -N -d /dev/sda test.img test.logfile. Unfortunately the produced test.img-file was empty after ddrescue stopped running a few hours later. Using ddrescue and also smartctl -t short /dev/sda to let the harddrive doing a self check (which ends in a "everything seems fine"-like message) covers all my knoweledge of datarescue steps. So are there any other possible steps to understand the situation and do a file-rescue/disc-repair?

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    This is odd. My system and gnu.org/software/ddrescue/manual/… disagree quite significantly on the meaning of -n; online equates that to --no-scrape whereas my system equates it to --no-split (and my system doesn't know about -N). You may want to double-check that parameter set. Also tell us what exactly "empty" means; I assume that either test.img or test.img-file from your question was just a typo in the question. And stop trying to mount anything on a drive you intend to run ddrescue on; it can't ever help, and may hurt. – user Dec 22 '16 at 14:45

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