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  1. #1
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    Unable to format external hard drive

    I have a LaCie 1TB external drive connected with a FW800 cable to a matching card also from LaCie. The drive power supply failed and the drive's MFT was corrupted so I gave up on recovering the drive contents and followed LaCie instructions to make the drive usable and blank after purchasing a new power supply. Each step worked until the last when I got a message that formatting could not be accomplished. I rebooted and tried again but formatting (Quick) still failed. Chkdsk is unable to run on this drive. Disk Management shows "Disk 2 Basic 931.52 GB Online" and "(E 931.52 GB RAW Healthy (Primary Partition)" and "(E - Layout Simple - Type Basic - File System RAW - Status Healthy (Primary Partition) - Capacity 931.52 GB - Free Space 931.52 GB - %Free 100% - Fault Tolerance No - Overhead 0%". My system is a Dell XPS 400 Pentium D 3.20 GHz 4GB RAM running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. Can anyone help me to get this drive running properly again, please?

    Norm73

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  3. #2
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    If you haven't written a new MBR (or GPT) as part of the process of reconditioning, right click on the drive's disk number square in Disk management and convert it first to GPT and then back to MBR (or the opposite if using GPT). Then try partitioning and formatting.
    Also, is there an alternate connection method for the drive? USB 2.0 perhaps that you can try, to determine if the whole FW800 bus is running properly?

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    I did set it up with MBR. When I right click as you suggest "Convert to GPT disk" is grayed out. Of the first six options in that menu only the "Convert to Dynamic Disk..." item is not grayed out.

    Also, the drive does have USB capability which I will try when I dig out the appropriate cable from my large bin of many cables.

    I'll report after I try the USB option.

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    Okay, I removed the FW800 cable and tried to format using a USB 2.0 but the format also failed with that connection.

    What now?

  7. #5
    Star Lounger Look's Avatar
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    Hello norm73,

    Connect your drive & switch it ON. Open a command prompt by typing cmd in the start menu search box, right click cmd.exe and run as administrator.
    Type diskpart & press enter, type list volume & press enter. This is how it looks with one of my external drives connected:-

    LL.JPG

    If I was doing mine, I would type select volume 2 & press enter, type format=ntfs & press enter or format=ntfs quick for a faster format.
    When complete type exit & press enter twice to close diskpart then close cmd.exe.
    Jim.
    May you live as long as you want, and want to as long as you live.

  8. #6
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    Also SeaTools long test, other drive diagnostic programs, see if the drive is OK, take it out of the enclosure and connect it directly or by SATA to USB cable adapter if possible.

  9. #7
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Look View Post
    Hello norm73,

    Connect your drive & switch it ON. Open a command prompt by typing cmd in the start menu search box, right click cmd.exe and run as administrator.
    Type diskpart & press enter, type list volume & press enter. This is how it looks with one of my external drives connected:-

    LL.JPG

    If I was doing mine, I would type select volume 2 & press enter, type format=ntfs & press enter or format=ntfs quick for a faster format.
    When complete type exit & press enter twice to close diskpart then close cmd.exe.
    For an entire drive, "list volume" is not the correct command. Use "list disk", since the entire disk is reporting as RAW.

    After determining the proper disk number for the RAW drive, (for example let's say it's listed as disk 2), use the command "select disk 2". Once disk 2 is the selected disk, use the command "clean".

    From there, use the command "convert MBR" if you want an MBR partition table.
    Next, the command "create partition primary" without further switches if you want the entire disk as a single partition.
    Then, if you want NTFS formatting, use "format fs=ntfs".

    After the format is complete, you can exit diskpart and command prompt, and Windows should recognize the drive.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

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  11. #8
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    I assume the command format fs=ntfs causes a low level format as it is extremely slow running about 1% every 25 minutes. Would it run significantly faster using FW800 instead of USB 2.0 and, if so, how can I safely abort the current USB run and restart using FW800? At the moment it is only 3% complete.

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    A full format on Windows 7 will take a long time regardless of the buss so no, it won't be faster. Expect about a day per terabyte.

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    Okay and thanks. I'll report in when it's done which should be tomorrow or Monday.

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    Well the important command was probably clean, since having the GPT option greyed out would indicate there was still some sort of structure on the drive, small though it must have been. So it would probably be ok to stop the long format and go for a quick, but if you have the time, a full format will replace any bad sectors there may be that could potentially cause a problem down the road. That's why it takes so long as 7 is sort of testing the drive a bit as it formats.

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    Thanks for that information. It is now at 20% complete and I will let it continue so, at this rate, it should run until late tomorrow night.

  17. #13
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    A drive that has given you a problem does not need a quick format - you need the full format to insure that everything about the drive is as it should be.

    FWIW, I never use quick format.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

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  19. #14
    Star Lounger Look's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbearren View Post
    For an entire drive, "list volume" is not the correct command. Use "list disk", since the entire disk is reporting as RAW.

    After determining the proper disk number for the RAW drive, (for example let's say it's listed as disk 2), use the command "select disk 2". Once disk 2 is the selected disk, use the command "clean".

    From there, use the command "convert MBR" if you want an MBR partition table.
    Next, the command "create partition primary" without further switches if you want the entire disk as a single partition.
    Then, if you want NTFS formatting, use "format fs=ntfs".

    After the format is complete, you can exit diskpart and command prompt, and Windows should recognize the drive.
    This is what I got with list disk, with the same external hdd connected. It's not as easy to select the correct item compared with list volume.
    Your correct, I forgot to add fs when typing format=ntfs.

    LL.jpg
    Jim.
    May you live as long as you want, and want to as long as you live.

  20. #15
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Look View Post
    It's not as easy to select the correct item compared with list volume.
    In Diskpart, the command "list volume" lists partitions and logical drives on all drives, and from that listing one may only select a partition or logical drive, not an entire disk, as the "select" command allows one to select only one item from that list.

    The command "list disk" lists only hard disk drives, CD/DVD drives and card readers that are assigned drive letters, without regard to partitions or logical drives. From that listing one may select an entire drive for further attention.
    Last edited by bbearren; 2013-03-17 at 13:00.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

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