Maybe you dropped your external hard drive because you forgot to unplug it when you tried to move your desk (like I did). Or maybe you unplugged it the wrong way. Or maybe you have no idea why you can’t mount your external hard drive, access your files or your drive just keeps blinking at you, tauntingly. Here are some good first options to try and how to ultimately fix your hard drive with e2fsck for beginners.
Try a difference cable
Sometimes it isn’t the hard drive, but actually the interface that has a problem. Try a different USB cable or consider using Firewire 400 or 800 if that’s an option.
Use your operating system’s built-in hard drive utilities
If you are running Linux, try GNOME disk utility (most Linux flavors usually have a version) to access the hard drive’s S.M.A.R.T. Status (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) and see if the hard drive is failing. You may also be able to make repairs to the file system.
If you are on OSX, Disk Utility can perform the same diagnostics and often correct low-level problems.
Use third-party Software
Sure, you have to open your wallet, but it may be worth it to use the powerful tools dedicated software can provide. Both of these have been rescuing desperate computer users for years.
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Run e2fsck (fsck)
E2fsck is a Unix utility for checking and repairing file systems. Fsck is the wrapper for the Unix tools; which version you run depends on your system and needs.
*Do NOT run on a mounted volume
E2fsck [ -F file system type] [-V] [-yY] [-o options] special
-F = Type of file system to be repaired.
-V = Verify the command line syntax but do not run the command.
-y or -Y = Run the command in non interactive mode: repair all errors encountered without waiting for user response.
-o = Three options can be specified with -o flag.
B = Number of superblock if primary super block is corrupted in a file system.
p = Option is used to make repairs during the booting process.
f = Forcees the file system check regardless of its clean flag.
E2fsck can take a long time (and I mean loooong time) to repair the hard drive depending on its size and number of errors. The switch I found most helpful was –y because it runs the tests and repairs the inconsistencies automatically (the –p switch will do the same thing).
E2fsck –y /dev/sdb1
When you encounter an even more serious error such as a superblock corruption, you can use e2fsck to replace the faulty superblock with one of your backups.
E2fsck -b [block number] –y dev/sdb1
Reboot your system and hopefully your hard drive and valuable data is accessible again.