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Recovering Data from a Damaged File System on an External Disk

External hard drives or USB disks are popular due to their portability and the fact that they offer easy storage expansion. However, although they are usually reliable, they do have other risks that don’t have such an effect on a standard hard disk drive that come with being stored outside the computer case. For example, dropping the external disk on the floor or exposing it to extreme heat can cause mechanical and logical failures.

Logical errors usually occur to an external disk when it is unsafely removed or there is a power cut. If you are about to remove the disk from the computer then you should do so using the operating system’s eject function. This will prepare the disk so that it can be safely removed from your computer. It does this by ensuring that nothing is being writing to the drive. If it is being written to and is then removed it can cause a damaged file system. This means that some, or all, of your files could become inaccessible. When you next try to use the drive the computer won’t be able to recognise the file system and may ask you to format the disk (it views it as being space that hasn’t been allocated).

Contrary to what the operating system is telling you, chances are your files are still intact on the drive. It will just take a bit of working to get them back. Before continuing, it is important that you are confident the fault is not mechanical. A mechanical fault is when there is a problem with the actual hardware and that one of the components inside is bust. Signs of this vary, but one common occurrence on an external hard drive is a clicking noise emitting from inside the case. This is the sound of the read/write head being unable to read the platter. If the failure is mechanical then it is best to contact data recovery professionals as it is not easy to fix yourself.

To perform recovery you are going to need a good data recovery program like R-Studio. This program will allow you to locate the damaged disk and scan it for your files. The program will also let you try it out for free to see your chance of recovery before you decide whether or not to buy it. If your drive had a lot of data on then you will be able to sort by file type to help find specific files. You should transfer everything it finds to a secondary drive and not the one you are recovering from. Once you have recovered your files, the program can then attempt to fix the damaged file system.

A damaged file system is relatively easy to recover from if you know how. However, not all of your files may be able to get recovered. It is dependent on how bad the damage is. As soon as you notice the fault you should act as quickly as possible and download data recovery software that will help seek out the files and repair the damaged file system.


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