Dive is not accessible. Parameter is incorrect

I am a software developer by trade and a linux geek by calling so it is not surprising that my family assumes I am the person to call for technical support on their Windows box. Just the other day I got a bizarre call dealing with an external USB drive. A family member who shall remain nameless had bunch of data strewn across several 1TB external devices. This is usually a good idea, in case of a hardware failure. Of course it quickly becomes a bad idea if the failure affects the terrabyte drive itself and it turns out that this data is not backed up anywhere else.

Redundant copies of your data – this is the only way to go. Hard drives fail – it is not a question of “if”, it is a question of “when”. Remember that folks. Never trust your hard drives!

The external device looked intact. The owner swore up and down that it was never dropped, submerged under water, rinsed or put in the microwave. But you know how it is – I bet at least one of these things did happen to the device – presumably the first one. Still, that did not seem to be the cause of the failure.

When the drive was connected to the computer, it took a really long time to show up in My Computer. When it finally did, Vista did not display that neat little capacity bar. When you right clicked on it and tried to check properties, the OS reported that the drive has 0 bytes of free space, and 0 bytes of total capacity.

When you tried to access it, an error message would pop up saying:

H: is not accessible. Parameter is incorrect

Not encouraging. I wasn’t very positive about prospects of data recovery from this drive. I formed a plan in my head:

  1. Run chkdsk on this machine if possible
  2. Plug it into my laptop and see if Linux can see any data
  3. If all else fails, give it a Viking funeral

Running the Check Disk app from the Properties menu did not work. I got another error message saying the disk is not accessible. Curiously enough running it from command line, did work. In Vista however, you need to remember to run it as an Admin.

  1. Type in cmd in the Start Search box
  2. Right click on cmd.exe that shows up and choose Run as Administrator
  3. Run chkdsk command on the faulting drive

I used the following line:

chkdsk /F /R /X H:

Make sure you substitute H: which whatever letter your drive is using. That’s it. The scan itself took several hours – I don’t know how long exactly – I ran it overnight and went to sleep. When I woke up, the drive was working fine again. I unmounted it, mounted it again and it was running like new.

If you ever see this problem happening on your external drive, try chkdsk before you give it the Viking funeral (cause, you know – you always give hard drives Viking funerals). You have to burn it and drown it to make sure people don’t try to recover your pr0n from it.

It’s either that or disassemble it, take out the cool magnet and hang the platters on your lamp or something.

Yes, I know, I know. Yet another dry and boring HOWTO post. Tomorrow I’ll post something more entertaining… Maybe.

Important Note:

If you used this method to rescue a failing disk, please be aware that your drive is not necessarily “fixed”. There is a good chance that the issue was a hardware problem, and running a disk check simply allowed us to route around the damaged areas. Still, whatever caused that damage in the first place is likely to happen again. If your hard drive failed this way once, chances are it will slowly deteriorate and fail again.

I strongly advise you to treat the “drive inaccessible” message as a clear indication that the drive is failing or about to fail. The check-disk fix is likely only a temporary measure that might allow you to copy your data off the drive onto another media. Please do not continue using a drive which failed this way without backing up all the data first.

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54 Responses to Dive is not accessible. Parameter is incorrect

  1. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I had problems with external hard drives a few times. First time, I accidentally dropped it (don’t put the external drive on top of your case when you’re tinkering in the computer…). Another hard drive started making clicking sounds and corrupt some bits of data.

    In both cases, what I did was open up the external case and plug the drive inside directly to the motherboard, then run the available diagnostic tools often provided by the manufacturer. I managed to save the clicking drive (still working after more than 12 years of service, now hosting a linux mini server 24/7), but the other one has been RMAed.

    Speaking of which : if an external drive dies and it’s out of warranty : open it and look up the serial number of the drive inside on its manufacturer’s site. Chances are the hard drive inside the box is still under warranty (the standard is 5 years now, whereas the boxes usually only have 1 or 2 years warranty). A little RMA, few weeks of patience and you have a good-as-new, often larger disk to put back in the box.

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  2. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    For a brief moment I wondered why you were writing about submarines. The “Dive is not accessible.” typo had me confused for just a split-second.

    :)

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  3. IceBrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    What bugs me in my external HD is the fact that it comes formated as VFat. When I bought it I didn’t considered it (I was in a hurry to save the files from a dying internal disk) but now I can’t save any file over 4GB, which is lame. The problem is that I already have 150GB of files in it, and I don’t have any other drive to backup them to, and I’m scared of doing partition resizing :|

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Zel: Good suggestion. I haven’t really considered that but next time I have a bad external drive I will do just that. :)

    @copperfish: Ah crap! I haven’t even noticed it yesterday.

    @IceBrain: You know that you can covert FAT to NTFS without actually removing the data with the convert.exe app that ships with WinXP, right?

    Just do:

    convert F: /fs:ntfs

    where F: is your drive. This is non-destructive format and it keeps all the data. Unfortunately it only works one way. You can’t go back to FAT once you convert it.

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  5. Ron UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Your solution saved me – Thank YOU!!

    Reply  |  Quote
  6. Matt AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Hi, having the same problem in Vista as mentioned, your article was quite a good read. I can’t run the chkdsk tho, it says the file system is RAW and not available for this type

    Reply  |  Quote
  7. Neeraj INDIA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Dear Sir,

    Really very very thanks…..i could get my all data back by using the command mentioned by you.

    Once again…really thanks…

    REgds

    Neeraj

    Reply  |  Quote
  8. Scott UNITED KINGDOM Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I love you!!! I just managed to get back 5 year’s of work! I am off to get another drive and take on board fully what you said about having back ups of your back ups!

    Reply  |  Quote
  9. Uknow NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @Matt: try the program GetDataBack for NTFS. It should get you back all your data. Once recovered, you can back up on another drive and format your faulty hdd after wich it should run fine again.

    Reply  |  Quote
  10. Raj INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Raj try the program GetDataBack for NTFS. It should get you back all your data. Once recovered, you can back up on another drive and format your faulty hdd after wich it should run fine again.

    Reply  |  Quote
  11. k00pa FINLAND Safari Mac OS says:

    You should write a tutorial about those Viking funerals :P

    Reply  |  Quote
  12. Adelina UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You just saved my life!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply  |  Quote
  13. Omar Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Hello, I really appreciate for your enormous work you provided us here. After i run chdsk on my drive it took almost 3 hours to read my disk which is 320 GB Western Digital External Drive. finally I got this error message ‘ errors found. chdsk cannot countinue in read-only mode.

    Please, do help me

    Reply  |  Quote
  14. Wolfie Google Chrome Windows says:

    I’m having the exact same problem, but when I tried doing this, it gave me the message: “The type of file system is NTFS. Unable to determine volume version and state. CHKDSK aborted.” Any ideas on what I can do?

    Reply  |  Quote
  15. Wolfie Google Chrome Windows says:

    Actually, my hard drive switched to RAW as well, and I have no idea how to fix that. My brother handled all my computer issues before, but he’s living in another country right now, so there went that…

    Reply  |  Quote
  16. yellow SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I keep getting the line
    “an error occured while reading the file allocation table
    “an error occured while reading the file allocation table
    there are no readable file allocation tables.

    the the check stoppped.

    Help!

    Reply  |  Quote
  17. LN UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I came acrosss this while googling this error I was getting from my external hard drive. Your simple solution worked like a charm, thank you so much!

    Reply  |  Quote
  18. Mr.Rome UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    It is at 1% now, keeping my fingers crossed…

    Reply  |  Quote
  19. Mr.Rome UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Got them fixed, thank you so much. hug?

    Reply  |  Quote
  20. alex UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    ah great article! i was able to use chkdsk /F /R /X (drive): to make my friend’s drive readable again. Couldn’t even access it via My Computer but that did that command did the trick. It took quite a while though.. i’d suggest letting it run overnight! thanks

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  21. Helen AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Thanks so much….saved my files that i thought were lost forever….such a simple solution…easy to follow.

    Reply  |  Quote
  22. Traore UNITED STATES Opera Mini Series says:

    Thx alot Luke Maciak chkdsk realy work

    Reply  |  Quote
  23. Bri BRUNEI DARUSSALAM Google Chrome Windows says:

    Help! :o After i entered the command,something like this shows up >>> “CHKDSK is verifying files …
    File record segment 78536 is unreadable.
    File record segment 78537 is unreadable.
    and it continues.. :/
    I’ll be glad if someone can help me.
    Thanks in advance. :)

    Reply  |  Quote
  24. Khashayar Google Chrome Windows says:

    Did you have success fixing your problem? I asked because I have exactly the same problem and couldn’t find any solution online. Please pay attention Dear Admin, I’m not spamming, just trying to ask these two people who have the same problem. Hope you don’t mind.@ Matt:

    Reply  |  Quote
  25. amit INDIA Google Chrome Windows says:

    i nearly died when i failed to get access to my beloved hard disk a dozen times, with the same bloody error message as u mentioned above. thought i lost a lifetime collection of movies, games, episodes, softwares, etc until i came across this blog and the life saving command. thank you so much sir!! thanks for giving me back my soul.

    cheers,
    amit

    Reply  |  Quote
  26. Justin AUSTRALIA Opera Windows says:

    Just… THANKYOU! I don’t know what I would have done. You saved the past 3 years of my life. Just… thank you.

    Reply  |  Quote
  27. Bill in Florida UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Thanks for your help in saving 90 folders of current work!

    I previously tried many other help/save/repair programs with zero results.
    Your family should call you for help!
    Regards,
    Bill

    Reply  |  Quote
  28. amy PHILIPPINES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Yep… chkdsk did it for me. Why didn’t I think of that first. Thank you very much!

    Reply  |  Quote
  29. Keith AUSTRALIA Google Chrome Windows says:

    The same exact problem is happening with my drive. I tried your solution exactly and nothing happens. The command window seems to lock up after I enter the code. It doesn’t allow me to type in it anymore and it doesn’t show that any action is being taken. My neighbor who is a programmer suggests that I take it out of the case. What do you recommend?

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  30. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Keith:

    Run the command, leave it be for 24 hours. If after that time there is nothing in the window that indicates the scan is running (has been run) then it’s a good indication this method won’t help. It is often the case that you actually won’t see any output in that window for several hours.

    Also do not take it out of the case. I’m not sure what that would accomplish. I’m assuming that by “case” you mean the external enclosure of your drive. These things are usually a standard IDE or SATA drive encased in a box with a USB controller. If you take it out, then you will have to crack open your computer, and use one of the spare SATA connectors to plug it in. It just so happens that the USB circuitry in the enclosure is the most robust part of the drive – usually the disk itself fails long before that due to having so many moving parts.

    If by taking it out of the case you mean cracking it open, and taking out platters then yeah – that’s a great way to destroy any data that was left there. Do no do that either. It won’t help, and exposure to dust particles will destroy the drive even if you put it back together afterwards.

    Sometimes drives die – they have moving parts that get used up. This method only works for drives that are “on their last legs, but still chugging”. Yours might be just dead.

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  31. Hendra INDONESIA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Hi Luke

    Thank you for your sharing. I’m still trying what you have said in this blog. My question? Is it possible that due to this method you will lose your data in hard drive?

    Reply  |  Quote
  32. Hendra INDONESIA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Hi Luke;

    I have finished the process using chkdsk /f /r /x drive: But, when I try to open the drive, it still can not be opened. error message is still popping. Do you have any advices? what should I do? should I repeat again that process?

    Reply  |  Quote
  33. ANIL AUSTRALIA Google Chrome Windows says:

    hii
    I tried same thing but got message
    ‘The disk does not have enough space to replace bad clusters
    detected in file 67 of name .’

    pls HELP

    Reply  |  Quote
  34. Joyous UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    @Luke Maciak I have a message error as follow:
    “The type of the file system is FAT 32.
    An error occurred while reading the file table .
    An error occurred while reading the file table .
    There are no readable file allocation tables .”

    What does that mean?

    Reply  |  Quote
  35. Subhamoy Halder INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    i pray 2 god dat all your wishes come true.u have saved my life.thnk u very much sir.god bless….god bless….god bless.

    Reply  |  Quote
  36. Angel UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Same exact thing was happening to me, Except my drive has 2 partitions.
    The FAT32 partition I use for media started showing these symptoms while the other NTFS partition was fine
    Tried this method and got
    “The type of the file system is FAT32
    Cannot read boot sector.”

    I don’t know what to do now. Any advice?

    Reply  |  Quote
  37. J BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    hi pls help me!

    After i entered the command,something like this shows up >>> “CHKDSK is verifying files …
    File record segment 78536 is unreadable.
    File record segment 78537 is unreadable.
    and so on and so on.

    Pls help me, my complete thesis is on my drive :s

    Reply  |  Quote
  38. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ J:

    Well, let it go through the entire thing. Apparently the data on the drive is damaged, but if you let CHKDSK run through the entire cycle it might possibly make some of the information there accessible again. If it’s a big drive it may take 20+ hours if the data is badly damaged.

    Sadly your it appears your drive might be a physical issue with the drive in which case there is not much you can do. If you were in the US there are number of data recovery companies that could possibly take your drive into a clean room, disassemble it in and attempt to recover the data the hard way, but it is costly ($1K+ at the minimum just to try). Not sure what options are there in Belgium – I’m sure there are facilities that specialize in this, but I have no clue what their price range would be.

    If you recover your data, please do me a favor and never keep documents as important as a thesis in a single location. There are very easy ways to do a cloud-based backup these days:

    1. Get Dropbox. It will set yup a folder on your computer that is automatically synced up with their online service (and any other computers you add to your Dropbox account). It’s free.
    2. Get Mozy. Configure it to back up the Drobpox folder every night, and also set up “local backup” to an external drive. It’s also free.

    It will take you at most 15 minutes to set up (these tools are very user friendly) and as a result your thesis will be automatically backed up at all times without any action from you. There will be at least 4 up to date copies of it existing in the universe:

    – Your computer (and any other computer you own and connect to Dropbox)
    – On the Dropbox cloud
    – On the Mozy cloud
    – On your external hard drive

    This means that to loose your thesis you would have to destroy your pc, lose the hard drive, and simultaneously forget passwords for Dropbox and Mozy on the same day.

    Compare this to your current situation where you may or may not have lost data.

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  39. Prat Google Chrome Windows says:

    I actually found this website for the second time with great difficulty, I was able to fix up my HDD with the chkdsk command for the parameter error, but now it’s slow and doesn’t open any files without a buildup, and finally when it does open the video/music, the file is broken and doesn’t play properly. I’m running chkdsk again, but any other ideas?
    @ copperfish:

    Reply  |  Quote
  40. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Prat:

    Not much. There was funky stuff going on with the drive first time around. You should have backed up your data when you first rescued it back then. It seems that over time the problem worsened. You can try running chkdsk a few more times to see if it improves things, but there are no guarantees.

    Reply  |  Quote
  41. Seth UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    Just got back pics of my son’s first four months and already backed them up to two places. Thanks!

    Reply  |  Quote
  42. erik Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Dude! it fucking worked your a hero 300GB of foto’s almost my entire life!

    cheers

    Reply  |  Quote
  43. Brad UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Thank you!!! It worked. Saved lots of pics, videos & files.

    Reply  |  Quote
  44. Joe GHANA Google Chrome Windows says:

    Oh Boy!, am trying out the chkdsk scan and praying so much that it works. Am having more than 200GB of data as risk. There is this message that keep popping that I format the disk before use…I pray i don’t have to format….

    Reply  |  Quote
  45. joe saddouki UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Running the chekdsk now.7452 of 466496 file record processed.
    i tried to use unlocker to delet one dirctory from the hard drive, it was taking forever so i turn the computer off and went to bed, next day i tried to open the hard drive and see what happen, it wont and kept saying format the hard drive, and other errors mentioned above. i pray this soulition works, i have stuff i been collecting for the past five years an some of them are really important, fingers crossed.
    thanks Luke

    Reply  |  Quote
  46. joe saddouki UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    i ran the chkdsk twice now, it stops at 11 percent6 and i get this message: an unspecofied erro accured
    i am trying to see if i can revuver some files, which i assume is not what i need, to me it seems i will only be able to retrive deleted file in that drive. i will be grateful if anyone can point me to the right directions, i do have some important stuff in that drive and i need to access it.

    Reply  |  Quote
  47. Peter M CANADA Google Chrome Windows says:

    Luke;

    Your post looks to have saved me $250-$900+ EACH on two separate external drives full of small business files and family photos.

    I never write compliments like this on such sites (and probably should) but figure the minimum I owe you is a note saying your advice above helped this quasi-knowledgeable have saved my bacon on several levels

    Thanks man,

    Peter

    (P.S. All the info above written in 2009 was still 100% relevant in 2013, and with Win 7 and 8 systems I used to run the command prompt on)

    Reply  |  Quote
  48. Reg PHILIPPINES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Thank you so much for this! I though I would have to dole out some cash just to recover my files but thankfully I found this! I could finally access my 400GB+ of data after weeks of dreading I’d loose it forever. Now backing my files up to another drive and making multiple copies. Can’t afford for this to happen again.

    Again, thank you!

    Reply  |  Quote
  49. hiran SRI LANKA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Thank you so much. I cannot express my gratitude enough. My 2TB seagate suddenly became inaccessible. your solution worked fine. I am running windows 7 and it worked fine. Thank you once again.

    Reply  |  Quote
  50. hiran SRI LANKA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    hiran wrote:

    Thank you so much. I cannot express my gratitude enough. My 2TB seagate suddenly became inaccessible. your solution worked fine. I am running windows 7 and it worked fine. Thank you once again. It took almost 22hours to process. But it was worth the wait.

    Reply  |  Quote
  51. Anton UNITED KINGDOM Google Chrome Windows says:

    I did the chkdsk /F /R /X H: command but no luck. Message got from cmd was:
    The type of the file system is RAW.
    CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.

    Any other suggestion on how the drive could be fixed???

    Thanks.

    Reply  |  Quote
  52. kitty Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ Wolfie:

    xact problem. i tried to merge my partition to extend c drive’s volume with free space i created for by shrinking my g drive.

    Reply  |  Quote
  53. Marcel GERMANY Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Thank you. I managed to get my drive working for 1 hr, just enough time to recover the data. Then the drive crashed again. Magic!

    Reply  |  Quote
  54. BZ UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    It worked! Thanks for the detailed instructions. I was able to recover 99.9%; 140GB of photos, video and data. It took 96 hours but I was patient. It was stuck on 11% but kept working away and my files are now safe and backed up.

    Reply  |  Quote

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