Dropped external hard drive while operating, is there any hope at recovery???


I know there are several threads discussing external drops, but they haven't helped me thus far. I dropped a Buffalo 320gb USB external drive while it was operating.

When I reattached the drive it lights up and I can hear and feel the spinning for a moment, but it always goes to the message, "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" and offers "initialize, ignore, and eject" buttons.

Initialize brings up disk utility, and shows the drive as a 2.2Tb drive (not 320gb), without any of my partitions or data, and does not allow me to repair or verify the drive.

I have attempted to use the Data Rescue 3 app to recover my data, but it also shows the drive as being 2.2Tb and is unable to scan, read, or recover anything.

The same occurred when using the Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery program.

Can anyone offer any additional help? It would be much appreciated!

Also, I live in a very isolated area on the Thai-Burma border, with no tech repair shops for hours in any direction.



Hi Anatta1

I can't believe the admins of this website haven't jumped all over your message. Oh well, here's some options, none of which are all that favorable.

-- Remove the hard drive and remount it in either another case or in a USB external drive adapter (in case the damage affected the circuit board of the external case).

-- If the content is valuable, you may end up sending it off to a mac-oriented data recovery service; worst case they can do it in a clean room with the plattens exposed. The probability of success is good, but the service isn't cheap.

-- If the data isn't too critical, and you're willing to take a chance and do it yourself, talk to the OR staff at your local hospital and ask if you can have use of Surgical Supply or the OR at a time when they're not too busy.

The Hospital OR/Surgical supply is NOT clean enough - but it's much cleaner than your house or office. If you can use the facility where they do bone surgery, that's even cleaner; but still not clean enough for exposed plattens.

Take your Mac and HD and tool kit to the OR, open the drive and expose the plattens, run it up and see if there is anything sticking or anything you can do. Then immediately recover your data and enjoy the show. Invite the surgical staff to come watch. All in all, odds are not in your favor, but it should be fun to try. If the OR staff agrees to let you do it, be sure and discuss their protocols for prevention of contamination to the OR.

Years ago, I arranged with a hospital to use their OR to repair a 90 Meg HD, and they agreed, but something came up and I wasn't able to. I got flamed on Compuserve when I posted my intent to expose the plattens, but that particular drive was destined to the trash can anyway.

Nice to know, but doesn't help your situation: The Macintosh community used to have the ruggedized RODIME hard drive that was built to be dropped several feet onto concrete during a save and not miss a beat. They weren't cheap but were also built to withstand enormous G-forces.

Please post what happens.


Thanks for your input and options. Unfortunately, the rural Thai hospital near my house probably isn't much more sterile than my home and regardless the information isn't THAT valuable. For now, the hard drive has been relegated to paperweight status.

I'm hoping next time I head into the city (it's been 6 months), I can take it to a repair shop and let them open it up. More importantly though, is buying a new HDD to back up my mac. I have an old Maxtor I'm moving my time machine onto temporarily, but it's a dinosaur and I definitely need to grab a new drive ASAP.


Luckily for you that new external HD's are quite inexpensive now. I just bought a new External 1TB for under $100 (US). As they used to say: "Let your fingers do the walking".