My external USB drive shows up as blank after unplugging it. How do I get it back?

Anonymous December 24, 2013
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Several days ago I unplugged the USB to my 2TB Hitachi drive without safely removing it, and when I plugged it back in my drive came on but showed as blank. Under properties it still shows 268GB of the drive is used, though. I tried several things without success including the following:

-Made sure “show hidden files” was selected under Folder Options
-Ran “attrib -h -r -s /s /d f:\*.*” in Command Prompt
-Ran “dir” in Command Prompt
-Ran “chkdsk” in Command Prompt
-Tried to find data with Find and Mount Software
-Tried to find date with Recuva software
-Ran Windows Error Check with “automatically fix file systems” selected, after which it told me it had completed the task but my files and folders were still blank
–Ran “attrib -h -r -s /s /d f:\*.*” in Command Prompt again, after which I saw a 14.6GB folder named “FOUND.000” with a bunch of files ending in .chk in it, which can be changed to .jpg. But this is still only a fraction of my files, and without name or folder structure.

Any ideas on what I can do from here? I’m almost at the point of giving up. :(

  1. Lain
    January 2, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Try this:
    Worked great when my friends drive became corrupted. It found all his lost work files.

  2. Oron J
    December 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Jan's right. When you "write" to a drive, Windows keeps, for reasons of performance, much of the information in a buffer in RAM. The data only actually gets physically written to the drive either when it suits Windowss (for example, when there's enough data in the buffers, or when the RAM is required for something else), or when you "safely remove" the drive. Since you removed the drive without notifying the system, it probably left some data half-written and in an unusable state. This would account for the CHK files (although 14.6GB is a lot of data, possibly going back to other disc problems earlier on?).

    Once the filing system is damaged, the only way to recover any data is with a data recovery program. There's a list of such products at // . I strongly suggest you recover your data onto a different drive, and not to the one which has just gone wrong. When you've recovered your data, reformat the Hitachi and copy the data back onto it.

  3. Hovsep A
    December 25, 2013 at 9:42 am

    As Jan explained they are chk files but the real extension is hidden so you dont know if each file is a phot, video, will need to give back the real extension to each file.
    Before anything do abackup of the chk files.

    TrID - File Identifier

    Recover CHK Files

  4. Jan F
    December 24, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    This "FOUND.000" folder and the chk files are from running check disk. These are folders, files or part of a file recovered during its operation. Since there is no guarantee they contain useful data and don't represent all the data on the drive they are not really of much help.

    Basically what happened was that you unplugged the drive before the system was done writing its cache to the drive. This can cause data corruption, data loss and sometimes corruption of the file system.

    What you can try is running an actually recovery tool like TestDisk.
    You should start by making sure the partition is in order (see "Current partition table status" and "Partition table recovery" in the Step by Step guide)

    Next step is the recovery of the data - I assume the 2TB drive has been formated in NTFS
    You can find the links for other file systems at the bottom of the first Step By Step guide.

    For the actual data recovery you will need as much free space on another drive as was used on your external one. This might be 268GB but can also be a very different number - my 16GB USB drive was once shown with over 16000TB of used space duo to corruption. So at best you have another 2TB drive available.
    Other then that just make sure you have plenty of free space available somewhere before starting.

    I have no experience with Find and Mount so maybe TestDisk will give you better results. As for Recuva it should find something if you run it in the "advanced" mode and enabling "Scan for non-deleted files".

    Next time you use an external drive (after recovery) go into Device Manager, look for the external hard drive under Disk Drives, then right-click and select properties.
    Go to the Policies tab and make sure the mode is set to "Quick removal". This does NOT make using the safely remove option irrelevant, it just reduces the risk of causing corruption when you do forget to use it.

    • Rob T
      December 25, 2013 at 2:09 am

      Hi, Jan. Thanks for responding to me. I'm not sure what kind of partition the 2TB drive had before, but it now shows FAT32.