I have an 320 GB ADATA CH91 external hard drive. I guess it has some problems with the connector of the USB jack. The point is that in certain occasions it fails in write operations generating data losses. Right now I lost a directory with several GB's of very useful information. Since then I have not attempted to write to the disk any more.

  • What tool would you recommend to recover the lost data? The disk is FAT32 formatted (only one partition) and I use both Linux and Windows.
  • What filesystem format would you recommend to avoid future data losses? I currently only use this external hard drive in Linux so there are several available choices (FAT, NTFS, ext3, ext4, reiser, etc.).
  • since you only use it in Linux, I assume you are looking for a Linux tool to recover the files?
    – jamuraa
    Mar 24, 2010 at 14:37
  • Not exactly, I can use Linux and Windows. Data is the priority, not OS.
    – Sergio
    Mar 24, 2010 at 15:09

6 Answers 6


PhotoRec was created for exactly this problem. "Photo" in the name comes about for historical reasons, but the program now handles hundreds of file types.

PhotoRec is a free tool and it was original used to save JPEG files from a camera's SD card where the directory information was lost.

It was mentioned in episode 150 of the RunAs radio podcast. MP3 download URL (24 MB, 43 min 32 secs). I will see if I can find the exact place where it was described.

  • I'm sure the files are still there, only that the directory entry is corrupted. I'm actually looking to recover the entire directory structure, if possible. PhotoRec will just find a bunch of files
    – Sergio
    Mar 24, 2010 at 15:30

I really believe that if you have really important information in your disk, you should try professional help from companies that recover data. They are experienced in this field and could help you more than tutorials on the internet.

If you want to try by yourself:

  • Do not write anything to your drive. Keep it intact;
  • Use a file recover tool. I've used a tool named R-Studio in the past (3 years a go) and I was able to recover a lot of files;
  • Change your culture about copying, backing up and saving files. External Hard Drives (and flash drives) IMHO should be a transitional place for storaging important files, not definitive ones.

Good luck!


PhotoRec is okay but in my experience it is geared mainly towards recovering images. I have used Recuva which is made by the same company as CCleaner.

I've also used PC Inspector File Recovery which has saved me a few times. It has the ability to fix/recover missing headers on files which can be a big issue sometimes.

Both applications are freeware utilities.

Just remember, the chances of losing files increases the more you use the drive after the initial delete/failure.


1st I'd mirror the thing off to another drive! Next I'd ask what tools have you used so far? If you've tried chkdsk /f and that did not fix the issue, then most likely its more then the directory structure problem. Its been awhile but if I remember right on fat32 there are two copies of the dir structure and chkdsk /f would have fixed that. So then your down to using photorec (I've never used it, but programs like it)


You may want to check out EASEUS Disk Copy to mirror the drive sector by sector to another drive before doing anything else (as per tonyr roth recommended). Note I haven't used this myself, but have it bookmarked

Test Disk is supposedly a good, free recovery utility.

Finally I have a friend who swears by SpinRite, although I'm not sure if its the most up to date option available.

Good luck!


Since you believe your problem is just a directory error, make an image of the disk and try the following:

chkdsk /f

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