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My external HDD (1TB) is corrupted and showing the below error in Windows. The disk icon shown in My Computer and in system tray.

Location is not accessible
G:\ is not accessible
The parameter is incorrect.

I have tried the PhotoRec recovery tool to get my data back (pic 3). But I have limitations on my system HDD as it cannot hold 1 TB of data. So I bought another 2TB HDD and copying to it.

In first attempt, the PhotoRec finished up to 35 percent and recovered 100 GB of data. After this 35%, the disk's icon is gone from My Computer, but the light on the HDD was illuminated. As I could not see progress, I disconnected everything and re-started again. But in this second attempt, it completed but I could get only 2 GB, which I could not understand.

Now, I need to get some advice that which software can recover the HDD with original folder structure. I revised the below softwares, most of these cost $100 per year:

  • Disk Drill
  • EaseUS Recovery
  • R-Studio
  • MiniTool
  • Stellar
  • DMDisk
  1. Is there any software which I can purchase with a lower cost and having perpetual license (i.e., one time payment)?
  2. If there is no such software, which software from the above list will perfectly suite me?
  3. How should I know if there is a hardware issue with the disk?

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    Photorec was the wrong choice, what you should have done first is buying the new bigger HDD and then make a full disk image using dd_rescue. A defect HDD is only getting worse, therefore the more often you try to recover something the less you will get until it is totally gone. For that reason you should make a full image and then only try to recover something from the image. Never directly work on the defect HDD only on the image!
    – Robert
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 9:13
  • Well said. I make it once and I thought the 'read' operation will not make much issue. Better I will once again use the DD rescue to make a full disk image.
    – Rauf
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 11:03
  • @Robert After making .img file using DDRescue-GUI, how can I extract the data ?
    – Rauf
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 11:59
  • Once you're down to file scavenger software, you shouldn't expect to be able to recover folder hierarchy. You might get file names if a partial file table can be found, but that might be gone too, so you all you get is FILE001.JPG etc.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 9:35

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For most reliable data recovery, make sure that the connection from the disk to the system doing the recovery is as stable as possible. External harddisks typically connect via USB, which is less reliable than SATA connections most commonly used for internal harddisks. Most external disks have a SATA connection internally, and a tiny SATA-to-USB controller. Try look if you can take apart your external harddisk to see if that is the case with yours. Sadly Some cheaper external disks are glued together or are hardwired to use USB internally.
If you can, then avoid USB and instead connect the disk using a SATA cable to a desktop computer.

Next the operating system: Even though you use Windows, I can strongly recommend that you do the data rescueing - or "data forensics" as it is more professionally called - using a Linux system. I recommend to use Kali linux as a live system and use the tool Autopsy which then takes care of calling low-level tools like ddrescue.

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