1TB internal drive containing all data suddenly 'unallocated'

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whatname

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Hello and thanks for reading.

This drive doesn't show up in Win 10 Windows Exporer. It shows up in Disk Management as Unallocated. An I/O error started displaying as I was attempting to save some midi files to the disk.
There is a lot of advice about this problem around the net, some of it contradictory. Hoping to find clear and correct guidance here.
I haven't touched this disappeared drive, WDC WD10E2RX-00A8LB0 (that's a Western Digital drive); haven't initialised either the MBR or the GPT (options provided when Disk Management is first opened)
Several reboots havent made it show up.
I've tried updating the drivers, using automatic search and installation via Disk Properties.

I've got a few tools available;
  • Recuva
  • Minitool Partition Wizard free
  • EaseUS data recovery wizard
  • Testdisk
I'd like to know whether any of these should be used, and if so, which?

Or is there some other tool or procedure? It needs to be a free tool.

...and I have basic questions like-
  1. would initialising the lost disk result in data loss?
  2. will using any of the tools listed above result in data loss?
  3. can the drive be re-mounted, and would this cause data loss?
  4. Can a drive letter be assigned to fix the problem?

IT IS CRITICAL THAT DATA BE CONSERVED AND RECOVERED IF POSSIBLE

Other information:
this drive contains a possibly corrupted installation of Windows 7 now not in use.
Windows 10 has been installed in a newly installed drive and the machine now boots to that.
Might the previous installation of Windows 7 be the cause of the "the disk will have to be initialised before it can be accessed" error message mentioned above?

Thank you
 
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crjdriver

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First of all, if the data is important to you, you make multiple backups on separate media. ALL drives fail; it is only a question of when your drive will fail.
I would start with test disk. From your post, it would appear the mbr/gpt is corrupted.
That is a green drive and one of the WD low end drives ie more prone to failure. If you are successful recovering data, I would NOT use a low end drive again. Get a WD black series drive. They cost about twice as much as a green drive however I have never had a black drive fail. One system is now 10yr old and run almost everyday with a WD black.
 

whatname

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First of all, if the data is important to you, you make multiple backups on separate media. ALL drives fail; it is only a question of when your drive will fail.
I would start with test disk. From your post, it would appear the mbr/gpt is corrupted.
That is a green drive and one of the WD low end drives ie more prone to failure. If you are successful recovering data, I would NOT use a low end drive again. Get a WD black series drive. They cost about twice as much as a green drive however I have never had a black drive fail. One system is now 10yr old and run almost everyday with a WD black.
OK: Testdisk. Thanks also for the drive recommendation.
I"ve been reading the how-tos for Testdisk here. A mere self-taught rookie, I find a few parts not understandable. It scares me that there's a 'write' instruction there. That suggests 'overwriting'.
Guidance in Testdisk's use would be very welcome.
 

crjdriver

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If you are not sure or not comfortable, send the drive to a data recovery shop. Be sure and get an estimate since data recovery is NOT cheap. A very basic recovery using software [generally] runs approx $200~250 plus the cost of whatever media you want the data put on; ie you cannot recover to the drive you are scanning. The cost goes way up from there.
 

whatname

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If you are not sure or not comfortable, send the drive to a data recovery shop. Be sure and get an estimate since data recovery is NOT cheap. A very basic recovery using software [generally] runs approx $200~250 plus the cost of whatever media you want the data put on; ie you cannot recover to the drive you are scanning. The cost goes way up from there.
No. Not being sure/comfortable, I hoped to access CLEAR GUIDANCE (other than "take it to the real expert"). That is why I've posted to this forum.

The drive has spontaneously reappeared. All essential data have been backed up.
 
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crjdriver

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You already have a link to a guide on how to use test disk.
All essential data have been backed up.
So what is the problem??? If you have a backup, simply zero fill the drive. When done, test with the drive mfg's diagnostic. IF the drive passes ALL tests, partition/format and copy your data back over.
If the drive does not pass all tests, replace the drive and copy the data to a new drive.
I fail to see where you are having a problem.
 
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whatname

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TestDisk's Write command overwrites the partition table on the HDD which could fix it, and it doesn't change any of the data on the drive.

You have little to lose in trying it, especially if it found partition(s) that were all coloured green. See the guide at this link for more details :-

https://www.sevenforums.com/software/190430-regain-lost-drive-using-test-disk-illustrated-guide.html
Thanks managed. I appreciate your advice that testdisk would have been a good thing to try. I've read that guide already and a few things in it worried me, like the 'write' command. The drive has reappeared in Winexplorer for reasons unknown.

I hope next time to establish skype or equiv contact with someone like you who might be consultable in real time while testdisk does its stuff, for protection from rookie missteps.

Thanks again.
You already have a link to a guide on how to use test disk.

So what is the problem??? If you have a backup, simply zero fill the drive. When done, test with the drive mfg's diagnostic. IF the drive passes ALL tests, partition/format and copy your data back over.
If the drive does not pass all tests, replace the drive and copy the data to a new drive.
I fail to see where you are having a problem.
Yes. On careful re-reading you might notice that there WAS a problem, but that there no longer is.
Thanks for the additional info. Such substantial, clear guidance is appreciated.
 

managed

Allan
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Hopefully it's fixed itself then but see below please.

(Just for your information the Write command in TestDisk writes the partition table only, which is on the first sector of the drive if it's an MBR type of table, there is a newer type called GPT which TestDisk can also attempt to fix.
Basically the table tells the OS where partitions on the drive begin and end. If it gets corrupted the drive can appear to be empty even though the data is still there. TestDisk examines the drive and tries to fix the table, if it succeeds the drive can be restored to a usable state and important files can be then be copied to backup media).

I would still test the drive in the way crjdriver recommended in post #7, it could be starting to fail and the tests he mentioned should show if it is or not. In other words I wouldn't trust that drive unless it passes the tests.

The forum rules here only allow for advice within the forums, the idea is anyone else with a similar problem can search and hopefully find help here.
 

whatname

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Thanks very much managed. It seems the partition table must have been corrupted. Starting to fail as you say.
I'll test the drive and if it's OK will probably use it for backup only in future.
Thank you also for the explanation of the 'Write' command as deployed within Testdisk. I don't know if there's any detailed help info that goes with that, but deeper general study into this will probably illuminate and enable.
 

crjdriver

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Since that is a green drive [one of the low end WD] I would really consider getting a black series drive. These have dual processors and dual motor supports AND a 5yr warranty. I think the green drives are 2yr warranty; that alone should tell you about quality.
 
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