I have a 300GB Seagate external hard drive in a generic aluminum external enclosure that I’ve been using with my XP laptop for about a year and a half. It has 200GB of irreplaceable data on it, including over 5000 photos and several hours of video I’ve shot. I absolutely have to regain access to this material. I realize it was stupid to have it only in one place. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I will offer a reward (seriously!) to advice that leads to me getting my data back.
Here is the problem: the external enclosure has two lights, a green power light/button and a blue light that flashes when the drive is accessed/transferring data. The drive is USB 2.0 but I only have 1.1 on my laptop, so whenever I connected and turned on the drive it would light up blue for about five minutes (I’m guessing because of the slower USB) before I could access it, then “autoplay” would quickly scan through the folders, then it would appear on my laptop. This happened from the first time I used it. A few months ago, when pressing the power button, the drive would start to spin up and then stop when I took my finger off the button. I had to hold the button down for 2-3 seconds and it would spin up no problem. It seemed like it was just a problem with the connection in the power button of the enclosure, not a hard drive problem. This went on for a few months, but when I got back from visiting home yesterday, I could not get the drive to spin up entirely. In 12-15 tries, I got varying results. Twice the drive seemed to spin up like normal, but the blue “accessing” light did not light up for as long as usual, and when the drive appeared i could see all the folders and files, but not access/open any of them. When I checked the “properties” of the drive, it still read 200 of the 300GB full, which seems to imply the data is still there, but some sort of hardware problem is keeping the drive from spinning up fully. But most of the time (other than those two tries), I would have to hold the power button for 5-10 seconds just for it to light up, the blue access light would start to flash, then sort of “click” off. The green power light stayed on, I could hear/feel the drive spinning inside, but the blue light stayed off, the drive appears in my device manager, but not in explorer and I can’t access it at all. Today I tried again, and now the green power button will come on, but it flickers a bit and the drive does not spin up at all.
What’s more: in the past couple weeks, I had noticed that the black box on the AC adapter is making a hissing/buzzing noise that I hadn’t noticed before. This, in conjunction with the flickering and sudden switching off of the enclosure, again makes me think it’s a problem with the enclosure hardware, possibly not getting enough power to spin up the drive because of a short out or something, either in the enclosure itself or in the AC adapter. Is it possible the adapter is damaged and not pulling through enough power to run the drive?
So my question: Is it most likely that my problem is the enclosure, the AC adapter, or the hard drive itself? Should I first try buying a new generic AC adapter? Or remove the drive from the enclosure and install it in a PC? Or just rush it to the nearest data recovery service for $300?
Any help or advice is greatly, greatly appreciated! Thank you!