Suspected $MFT Corruption

Question: My laptop computer wont recognize my 500gb external hard drive for some reason or another, after working fine for ages. I keep getting the message that i have to reformat my external hard drive before i can use it.after further investigation, it seems that my external hard drive has suddenly become a raw drive for some reason unknown to myself. The files i would need recovered would be mostly music ( mp3’s and albums ) quite a few photographs, and a lot of movies, which i’m not to bothered about. Would like to know what kind of moneys we are talking about to recover said files, if it’s going to be hundreds of pounds, please don’t get back in touch with me, as i’m not in a position to afford that kind of cash.

Answer: It sounds very much like your external hard drive has suffered some form of data corruption, specifically to the drive’s file system. The drive appearing as raw alongside an error message asking you to reformat the drive is a very big clue to a data corruption. Usually the files on the hard drive should be fine and will not have been damaged. Instead, once the corruption is sorted out the drive should start behaving again as it did before this incident. The corruption can easily be corrected using a hex editor (WinHex is a good example) and editing the hard drive’s Master File Table (MFT or $MFT) record.

There are many online examples of how to do this – see a good link to a Microsoft page at