A Drive with All My Data is Showing as Unformatted — What Do I Do?

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I recently replaced my system hard drive and have taken my old internal hard drive out and installed it into a external enclosure. When I plug it in, it shows up on my computer, but without a file system label, only a letter designation (G). Disk management says it is unformatted. It was NTFS as an internal drive. I’m concerned that if I format it, I will lose all of my data now stored on the drive. What steps do I take to format this external drive without losing my files? Or am I missing a step in accessing the information on the drive?

First, don’t format the drive.

Formatting will erase whatever’s on the hard drive, or at minimum, make it extremely difficult to recover your data.

I do have some suggestions of next steps to take instead.

Read moreA Drive with All My Data is Showing as Unformatted — What Do I Do?

How do I replace my system hard drive without installation media?

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Hi, Leo. My problem is this – my main drive failed today. It doesn’t seem to be spinning. There is power going to it as the light flashes for a few seconds. The error message says to install the boot media and in the BIOS, the hard drive is not even showing. It’s just the C Drive and all of my important stuff is on my external drives, which I do backup regularly. Hence, I’ll be replacing it soon. However, the computer only came with recovery discs. I’ve already tried reformatting the new drive using the recovery disc but it just keeps going back to the “Windows is loading files” screen. I changed a hard drive a few years ago but I had a startup disc to boot from. This machine does not have a boot disc. It’s Windows 7 and if I remember correctly, my other replacement used Windows XP.

You might be in a bit of a pickle.

There a number of things I gleaned from your question. Most of them are bad news. A possible glimmer of hope: you said you have your important stuff on external drives that you back up regularly. If you meant that you’ve been doing full system image backups, you’ll probably be fine.

Read moreHow do I replace my system hard drive without installation media?

What do I do if SFC detects but cannot fix a problem?

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I run Vista, SP2, Home Premium. The results of “sfc /scannow” show a couple of files that cannot be repaired. It couldn’t re-project a corrupted file; the source file in store is also corrupted. PublicKey neutral in the store, hash mismatch. Now, I don’t find this problem mentioned in your archives. I see the problem addressed on the web, but the various solutions presented seem either overly complex or too simplistic for me to comfortably try them. I see some people have tried these “solutions” that (after getting feedback that the files are restored) run “sfc /scannow” again and receive the same error indications. Is this a case of a problem that is not a problem? What are your thoughts? How would you proceed to restore these files?

The System File Checker (SFC) uses several techniques to detect that one or more of your system files have been either inappropriately replaced or damaged. SFC then tries to repair the problem.

Unfortunately, it can’t repair everything. In your case, that puts you in a hard spot.

Read moreWhat do I do if SFC detects but cannot fix a problem?

Does an unstable system imply a hardware problem?

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I have a PC that does… well, weird things. My Adobe Flash suddenly doesn’t work on some major sites, yet it’s OK on others like YouTube. Adobe Flash is suddenly not displayed on Add/Remove listings. I also lose parts of some other PC components so that their features don’t work properly. Now, this usually starts after I carefully uninstall some “accidentally” downloaded toolbar or some other program I have “added/removed” in my Windows. Now, technicians say there is no problem with the computer. Can there be a flaw in the motherboard or something making this happen? It’s like the uninstall that I do appears to gut some of my other programs, especially Adobe Flash.

Motherboard and other hardware issues are typically more consistent. You would see the same issue over and over again. Or the issue would be more severe, like your computer would just stop working or crash completely on a regular basis.

While it’s still possible, I don’t believe there’s a problem with your motherboard. What you’re describing sounds more like software rot.

Read moreDoes an unstable system imply a hardware problem?

Why Did I Lose Applications After My Machine was Formatted?

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Using Windows XP, Home Edition, 32-bit. I had my computer formatted and the technician lost my Corel Windows programs and Veritas to burn music CDs. Is this normal for it to happen?

Well, yes and no.

It’s important to realize that formatting a computer erases everything that’s on that hard drive. You start with a hard disk that contains Windows, other applications, and data and after you format, you have an empty hard disk. That’s normal. That’s expected. That’s what formatting means.

What concerns me here is that the technician should have told you.

Read moreWhy Did I Lose Applications After My Machine was Formatted?

How should I erase my hard drive before I give it away?

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I would like to clear off/erase all of the programs on my hard drive and clean it up before I donate my computer to a worthy cause. What’s the best/simplest way to do this?

To begin with, good on you not only for your donation, but for thinking to do this. All too frequently we hear of computers being donated by banks, hospitals, or other institutions and then turning up with all sorts of private information that should have been erased first. The best way? Well … how paranoid are you?

Read moreHow should I erase my hard drive before I give it away?