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I am trying to read from a hard drive that I haven't used in a few years. The drive was fine when I used it last. When I select the drive in Explorer I get "D:\ is not accessible. There is not enough space on the disk". In Disk Manager the drive is listed as " (D:) 232.88 GB RAW Healthy (Primary Partition)". It should be NTFS.

In TestDisk the Boot sector and Backup boot sector are both OK and "MFT and MFT mirror match perfectly".

TestDisk's List screen shows the correct directory structure.

CrystalDiskInfo doesn't report any SMART errors.

If TestDisk sees the directory structure and there aren't any errors in the MFT why can't I see the files in Explorer? How can I fix the drive so I can access the files?

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First try to make a disk image, e.g. with Macrium Reflect or one of the many alternatives. This may protect any residual data, allowing you to recover it from the image, rather than that HDD.

You might try examining the drive with DiskGenius, which can recover data from a number of file management systems, including NTFS, ext4 and others.

Another option, if that does not work, is to boot from another OS to see if that OS recognizes the partition. No need to install the other OS, e.g., Ubuntu, just run it from USB.

Finally, if all else fails, you have a few choices:

  • If you believe there's important data to recover, there are commercial data recovery services -- which might be expensive.
  • If you just want to use the HDD as a spare drive, open it in Windows diskmgmt.msc or in DiskGenius, combine all patitions into free space, and format that space as desired, e.g., NTFS. Mount it and have Windows test the disk for errors.
  • If the disk is absolutely unusable, it's worth opening for internal parts, such as powerful magnets. The inevitable damage to the platter destroys any data, reducing worry of a hacker getting PII from the HDD.

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