External HDD "You must format this disk before you can use it"


Hey guys.

So yesterday I freshly-installed Windows 7 x64 on my computer. After having done the installation, I installed my anti-virus, firewall, etc. and also plugged in my Western Digital external HDD (where I backed up my files), and all was working fine and dandy.

I then left my computer running overnight so that it may install all the Windows Updates, and in the morning I check up on it and they're finished, so all that's left now is to restart the computer. I do so, but then when I go and check my external, I can't even open it. If I right-click it from Computer, Windows Explorer stops responding. Eventually it gave me a message that said something like "You must format this disk drive before you can use it. Format it now?".

I tried using chkdisk, but even when I type the drive letter (e:) it gives me a message in the cmd saying "Data error <cyclic redundancy check>". No idea what that means. I also tried plugging it in my laptop, but nothing happened. No response, no notification, no drive in Computer, nothing. Only the light on the drive turned on.

Does this mean my external is done for? Or was it due to the Windows Update? If so, can it be fixed?

Help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Support Death Metal.
At this point, what you can do is download a live version of Linux.
Knoppix is probably your best bet. Google it, download the .ISO, burn it to a CD.
After it's done and you're running Linux, plug in the HDD to your computer and see if it mounts.
If it DOES mount, your HDD is OK and it's just Windows.
If it DOESN'T, then it may be done for.
I had the exact same problem on mine as well, glad to see I'm not alone.

A cyclic redundancy check (CRC) or polynomial code checksum is a non-secure hash function designed to detect accidental changes to raw computer data, and is commonly used in digital networks and storage devices such as hard disk drives. A CRC-enabled device calculates a short, fixed-length binary sequence, known as the CRC code or just CRC, for each block of data and sends or stores them both together. When a block is read or received the device repeats the calculation; if the new CRC does not match the one calculated earlier, then the block contains a data error and the device may take corrective action such as rereading or requesting the block be sent again, otherwise the data is assumed to be error free (though, in fact, it may contain undetected errors,

edit: You can also try to enable the Administrator account in Windows 7 and see if it lets you access it on that account. I've done it before as well.
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edit: You can also try to enable the Administrator account in Windows 7 and see if it lets you access it on that account. I've done it before as well.
Thanks. I'm downloading Knoppix right now. In the meanwhile, how do I go around to doing that?

I really find it unlikely to be a hard drive failure imo, since all I did was just a simple restart of my computer. The power has been out sometimes in the past and nothing has happened to it.

EDIT: nvm about how to log in as administrator. I logged in, and tried to access the external via Computer, but it gave me the same message as it did on the cmd, but in the form of a window pop pup. Also, I'm trying to understand the CRC thing, but I still don't really know what that means.
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Support Death Metal.
Something accessed your data and corrupted it, by mistake.
I can assume a Windows Update did this since the problem occured after your Windows Update.
Other errors like that relate to turning off your HDD off and on a bunch of times, it'll also corrupt it.

Try unplugging it for at least ten minutes, plug it back in. See if that works. However, completely unplug everything. This includes the AC power from the power outlet and the mini USB cord to your hdd. Make sure all 3 items are seperated for at least ten minutes, again.

There's also a tool I used by Seagate called Seatools. I use it to this day, it's fairly good:

Do the memory tests on your external. If any of them fail, report what failed in this thread.


Well, the drive shows up on Seatools, so I'm guessing that's a good thing.

I conducted the tests, except the Long Generic is taking a lot of time, it's barely up to 50% now. It's shown up with "16 errors" so far so I'm guessing it might have some damage...although that was at beginning of the test and it's been a while now and no more error have popped up.

Here's the log so far:

--------------- SeaTools for Windows v1.2.0.2 ---------------
7/26/2010 7:51:21 PM
Unit Serial: WD-WCAV54157727
Unit Model: WD 10EADS External
Firmware Revision: 01.00A01
Test Unavailable - Test Unavailable 7/26/2010 7:51:21 PM
Identify - Started 7/26/2010 7:51:27 PM
SMART: Supported and enabled
48-bit Address feature set supported: True
Max LBA: 1953525169
Host Protected Area features: Supported and enabled
Mandatory Power Management: Supported and enabled
Security Mode: Supported not enabled
SET MAX security extension: Supported not enabled
Advanced Power Managment: Not Supported
Download Firmware: False
SMART self-test supported: True
SMART error logging supported: True
Drive Temperature(C/F): 46/115
Power-On Hours: 3836
Test Unavailable - Test Unavailable 7/26/2010 7:51:40 PM
Short DST - Started 7/26/2010 7:51:48 PM
Short DST - FAIL 7/26/2010 7:52:24 PM
Long DST - Started 7/26/2010 7:52:29 PM
Long DST - FAIL 7/26/2010 7:53:44 PM
Short Generic - Started 7/26/2010 7:54:00 PM
Short Generic - Pass 7/26/2010 7:55:56 PM
Long Generic - Started 7/26/2010 7:56:03 PM
Bad LBA: 6293552 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293553 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293554 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293555 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293556 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293557 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293558 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293559 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293560 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293561 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293562 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293563 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293564 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293565 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293566 Not Repaired
Bad LBA: 6293567 Not Repaired

Also I checked the external in disk management and it says it's in "Healthy" status and fully partitioned. One thing I did notice is that it's not in the original NTFS format anymore. It's in RAW format. I'm guessing the Windows Update changed it to RAW so I can't open it up through normal means.

I looked up RAW format on the web, and apparently it's very hard to format it back to NTFS without losing files, so I checked up on Cnet, and they said that I could use a program called File Scavenger to retrieve the files. According to what I read, it can retrieve the files from the RAW format drive, so I'm gonna try it out.

If it works, then all that's left is to reformat it. But we'll see.
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Support Death Metal.
I can tell you from that "BAD LBA" messages you will need to reformat your drive.
Alright then. Just make sure you know what you're doing, a mistake can cause an irreversible error.

Before that, try having it repair your Bad LBAs first, just to see if it recovers it before you use the more severe "undelete" program, please.

Edit: Now that I think about it. Is it so new that you have a warranty on it? My externals have a 1 year warranty on them..
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Yeah, I think I still do have warranty on it.

By the way, I opened up the drive with File Scavenger, and it's all there. EVERYTHING. All my music, pictures, games, movies. It did show up with 2 errors though. Probably some small corrupted data from what I can see, but the rest is untouched.

I haven't tried recovering anything yet, so I'll go with what you said.

By the way, thanks for all your help so far, man. +1 to you.


Support Death Metal.
Any updates?
Are you set?
And, no problem. I love to help people, it's what I am here for. :)


Well I tried fixing the LBA thing, but no deal. So I just extracted the files with the program and all is good. I managed to copy all my files from the external to the internal HDD. Now I just need to reformat it. Thanks for the help again.

Is it possible for me to reformat it without any problems even with the bad LBA's? Or does reformatting itself fix them?

And for the record, from now on, I'm just unplugging the external every time I do a Windows Update.


Support Death Metal.
Reformat the drive and it'll fix the errors you get.
And, good. You live you learn. Mistakes are amazing, huh?
Sorry I couldn't offer too much.
But at least you got your stuff, right?


Will do.

Indeed they are.

Hey, I've asked in 3 other tech-help SPECIFIC forums and you've helped me the most out of all of them combined. You should feel proud.

And yeah, at least I didn't lose the most important stuff. (As soon as I got my music back I was already relieved since that was the most important to me, I can't live without it!)


Thread Junky
For future reference: Recuva

Fantastic free software that ousts anything except a cleanroom on data recovery. Seriously.

Doesn't matter if you have CRC errors, etc. Even if you deleted files and REFORMATTED several times, it'll still find your stuff.

Save yourself all this trouble next time around... ;)