External HDD suddenly not recognized anymore

By petersluuk
Feb 15, 2012
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  1. Hello all,

    I have a problem with my external HDD.
    When I woke up this morning, windows update had installed some updates and automatically my laptop had restarted.
    I tried to log in, but it crashed, immediately, out of the blue.
    I thought, ok, can happen, so when it had restarted and after logging in, I wanted to check on some things on my HDD.
    But I got a message, saying something like: The USB device is not being recognized.
    So I tried again, a couple of times, but I kept getting that message.
    After trying to switch usb ports and plugging in and out several times, I didn't even get that message anymore.
    That was when I started to realise I had a serious problem here.
    The HDD won't show in windows explorer, won't show in device management, and won't show in the BIOS.
    It is nowhere to be found, but the HDD itself is plugged in and working, it seems.
    I tried to recover data, but all the software I found doesn't find the HDD either, which makes sense considering the BIOS isn't even recognising it.
    Is there anything I can do to try and recover my data?
    Can my HDD be saved?
    I don't know if I've explained my situation clear enough, should there be any questions, please ask.

    Thanks in advance,

    Lukas
  2. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Tell us about your system and your hardware... brands, ages, connections, etc.

    How is the HDD connected, and has it been reliable till now.
  3. petersluuk

    petersluuk Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 40

    My laptop is a Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pi1536, 1024 mb ram and 2x 1.66 ghz processor.
    I've had it since '06, always had XP on it with SP3.
    It has crashed twice since then, but was able to fix it both times.
    The HDD is a Western Digital Elements 2TB, and is connected through USB.
    Never had any problems with it, no errors nothing. Until now...
  4. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,385   +205

    Will the external HDD work with any other laptop or PC?
  5. petersluuk

    petersluuk Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 40

    No it doesn't work with any other laptop or PC.
    I've tried switching USB cable, power cable.
    Nothing seems to help.
  6. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,385   +205

    It appears the enclosure or the HDD itself may have failed. You could remove it from the enclosure and try to install it directly in another PC or install it in an aftermarket enclosure or, if it is a SATA drive, place it in a docking station or maybe an adapter. Then you could try to recover any files/data you have.

    Just a reminder, you should always backup your data regularly. Keeping only one copy could easily mean losing it eventually, suddenly and unexpectedly (as you are finding out now). [end of lecture] :)
  7. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    A hard drive from 2006, might be at the end of its useful product life, as IBM used to love to report.. The average WD Elements laptop hard drive lasts about five years with luck.... sometimes you can squeeze 7 years out of them.. so you have been pushing your luck, perhaps as you are on your sixth year.

    Laptop hard drives fail from both use and age... You might be able to retrieve the data off it by putting it into an externa enclosure... but the magnetic material on the outer edge of the hard drive starts to flake and peel and throw off from centrifugal force... so the boot sectors are likely gone by now.
  8. petersluuk

    petersluuk Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 40

    I'm sorry, little misunderstanding I see.
    I've had my laptop since '06, the HDD is a year old, but I must admit that it has been running all year round.
    What would you say is the best way to try and salvage my data?
    Which has the most chance of success?
    And how do I find out whether it's a SATA drive or a different kind?
    I know I should have backed my stuff up, but I didn't have an HDD to back my stuff up on.
    Too late now anyway.
  9. petersluuk

    petersluuk Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 40

    I've tried searching the forums for similar issues, and there are a lot, but not exactly the same, it seems.
    I just don't seem to understand what is going on here, and I also wouldn't know how to solve this.


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