Getting data off my external hard drive HELP!

I am a photographer, but I am NOT good with computers and all the technology stuff. I just went to back up two weddings and had a problem. I plugged in my external hard drive and it says it has to be formatted before I can use it. Last I checked I had over 380gb on there and I’m not sure what to do. I know that some of the stuff on there it is the ONLY place I have it. Yes, I have completed the work, but I would still like to have a copy. Can anyone tell me if it is possible to get this data back or am I just screwed? Also, why does it do that?..it was working fine the other day and then I plug it in and now it’s not working.

Thanks so much!
-B-

When unplugging removal HDD’s, you MUST use the device removal wizard. It’s generally the little icon on the bottom right of your start bar with a green curvy arrow.

If windows refuses to use it, you can download a linux distribution live cd (like ubuntu), it’s free, and mount the HDD to get the contents off.

Hopefully it’s all good.