External USB HD with no Drive Letter

September 30, 2009 at 12:14:01
Specs: Windows Vista SP1, Core 2 Duo 3GHz/4 gigs
I just bought this thing:
http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/...
from Thinkgeek, hoping I could pull some stuff off an old hard drive. There was no manual, but all the cords were pretty obvious so I plugged it in, and away I went. All the drives installed properly, so I thought "Cool, I can recover my music" Not so. Vista recognizes the drive as a USB Mass Storage Device, but assigns it no drive letter.

I've looked around, and seen many people with the same problem. However, the solutions offered to them won't help me. Ya see, the drive doesn't show up under disk management in the device manager, so I can't just assign the drive a letter. I've also tried USBDLM but I can't get it to run properly.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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#1
September 30, 2009 at 13:51:29
New drives are usually blank of data.
The operating system can't show the drive in My Computer or Windows Explorer or assign a drive letter (or letters if it has more than one partition) to it unless the drive has been software partitioned and formatted using something the operating system recognizes.

"....the drive doesn't show up under disk management in the device manager,..."

USB devices may not work correctly in all possible USB ports you can plug them into - e.g. a port in a hub or the front ports on a desktop case. OR - if this is a desktop system, you may have an IRQ sharing problem you need to fix.
See response 3 in this:
http://www.computing.net/answers/wi...

An external hard drive requires the USB port(s) you plug it into is(are) able to supply the full 500ma USB spec of current.

3.5" external drives come with an external power adapter that comes with the external drive - that must be plugged into the external enclosure.

2.5" external drives usually get all their power from the computer USB port(s). They may come with Y cable that connects to two USB ports on the computer end, or two cables than connect to two USB ports on the computer end - you may need to connect to two USB ports in order to get the computer to recognize it properly. If it has only one cable, sometimes you need to obtain a Y cable and connect to two USB ports, or some 2.5" external drives have a jack you can connect to an external power adapter, but usually it doesn't come with the adapter - you may need to get and use one.

Some laptops can't actually supply 500ma from any of the USB ports directly connected to the mboard - you must connect to two USB ports on the computer end, or to one and use an external power adapter connected to the case.

If you plug the external drive into
- a port in a hub that is the type that connects to only one USB port directly connected to the mboard, the external drive may not be detected correctly, even if it's an external "powered" hub that has an additional external power supply plugged into it - or - it may be detected OK when it's the only thing plugged into the hub, not be detected correctly when there's more than one thing plugged into the hub.
- a port in a laptop PCMCIA (PC Card) USB 2.0 controller adapter, or a port in an ExpressCard USB 2.0 controller adapter, it may be detected OK when it's the only thing plugged into the adapter, not be detected correctly when there's more than one thing plugged into the adapter, because most, if not all, of those support a total of 500ma for all the ports. Some of those have a jack you can connect to an external power adapter, but usually it doesn't come with the adapter - you may need to get and use one.



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#2
September 30, 2009 at 14:37:58
Ok, I wasn't as specific as I should have been, and for that I'm sorry. The drive i'm using is a maxtor 4d080h4 80 gigabyte internal hard drive that i salvaged from an old sony viao for a 2nd hard drive in an emachines rig i recieved from a friend, i now have a 3rd, brand new pc, and want to recover about 20 gigs of music and pictures off of said maxtor drive. All the cables are connected properly, the drive is spinning as pretty as you please.

Vista recognizes the drive as a usb mass storage device under the "Safely remove hardware" icon but assigns no drive letter.

Vista also recognizes the drive as Maxtor4 D080H4 USB Device under the Disk Drives heading in the Device Manager. The device settings say that the device is working properly, however, when i go to the Volumes tab and hit Populate it comes up with

Disk: Disk 1
Type: Unknown
Status: Not Initialized
Partition Style: Not Applicable
Capacity: 78167 MB
Unallocated Space: 0 MB
Reserved Space: 0 MB

I've also tried moving the jumpers around, from Master to Slave to Cable Select to just plain old pulling the jumpers off. I'm really lost here.

To recap:
-Internal Hard Drive connected to my PC with a universal IDE/SATA kit I got from ThinkGeek (the kit had no manuals, no discs of any sort, just a box of parts)
-There's stuff on the hard drive I want to recover, formatting is not an option
-Vista seems to recognize the drive for what it is, but assigns the drive no letter
-The only place vista doesn't show the drive is in the Disk Management heading under the Storage tab in Computer Management


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#3
September 30, 2009 at 14:42:58

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Related Solutions

#4
September 30, 2009 at 15:09:03
aegis1, are you a stephen segal fan by any chance? Anyway, you sir, are my own personal saviour! Testdisk worked marvelously! I'd email you a hug, but that'd be wierd....

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#5
September 30, 2009 at 16:39:08
Nope Incognito, I can't say I'm a big fan of his, but he's done some good movies. :-)
You really should be grateful to the Testdisk creator and not me. If I hadn't mentioned it, someone else would have. To be honest, I just heard about it lately, and I have never used it myself.

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#6
October 1, 2009 at 14:01:34
"Vista recognizes the drive as a USB Mass Storage Device"

That shows it's recognizing the external enclosure's (or the flash drive's, or the memory card reader's) circuits as a mass storage device. The hard drive data volume(s)connected to those circuits (and the flash drive's data volume(s), and the memory card's data volume(s) ) show(s) up elsewhere.
.....

Yes, it does help a lot if you provide sufficient, accurate info.
It wasn't clear to me you had data on it in the first place, and since it shows up in Device Manager but not in Disk Management (the latter is contrary to what you had said in the first post ) I would have provided something like this:

The most common reason for having problems recognizing or reading from a hard drive in an external drive, a flash drive, or a memory card, when you had no problems recognizing or reading files on it previously, other than you have it plugged into a USB port the device can't work with properly, is you haven't beem clicking on the Safely Remove Hardware icon in your taskbar and choosing to STOP accessing the drive, when you want to unplug the drive or the card while Windows is running. Sometimes that icon is hidden, and you need to click on < at the left end of the icons in your taskbar to reveal it. If you were accessing the drive you want to unplug just before you clicked on the Safely Remove Hardware icon, you may not be allowed to STOP accessing it - in that case, access some other drive, and use the Safely Remove Hardware icon again.
You don't always harm the data on the device you unplug it when you haven't been doing that every time, but sometimes you DO damage the data, and in that case you need to use some program to attempt to recover the data.

e.g. these were suggested by aegis1 too:

PC Inspector (freeware)
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/pcinsp...

Zero assumption Recovery
http://www.z-a-recovery.com
The demo is limited
It will only recover 'up to' four folders per run
But you can make multiple runs

Really good, but you have to pay for it.
GetDataBack
http://www.runtime.org/


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