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Hi all,

Here's the story. I had a laptop with Windows 8.1 that I got a few years back. A month ago my child knocked it over, destroying the power source. I was able to replace it and after that my laptop started fine once, but then it simply died. No odd noises came from the HD so I assumed it was not the problem.

I proceeded on removing the HD and plucking it into another Windows 8.1 machine via converters and a USP cable, assuming that it would work the same way as all other HDs had done that I've previously recovered. It didn't. The HD was recognized just fine, but it claimed to be a "Healthy GPT protective partition" and didn't allow me to assign a letter to it so that I could access it. I tried Disk Management and also browsed around Disk Part, but was unable to make it work.

After that I attempted to use TestDisk following the instructions here:
Have you "lost" a hard drive or partition in your computer? | Tech Support Forum

Now, my drive didn't look quite the way it should have, but it was close enough so I assumed that those instructions would work for me. I was wrong. After the use of TestDisk my computer now assigns drives to it, in fact, it assigns three different drives to it, but when I click any of them it says "requires formatting" to access the data. I obviously don't want to do that.

I called a data recovery company and they said that it's definitely fixable but costs me between $800-$2,200 which is a very hefty price considering the fact that I only paid $200 for the computer in the first place.

Please help.
 

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When you ran TestDisk did you choose another drive to restore your files to? If you chose the same drive, then it may have overwritten the data.
If you did not try to recover any files, then use TestDisk again and restore your files to a drive that is the same size as the drive you are recovering or larger. If TestDisk doesn't work for you, I have had the best luck using GetDataBack, you still need another drive to restore to.
Once you are safely backed up, you can delete the partitions in Disk Management and Convert the HDD to MBR and create one large Simple Volume and Format it NTFS.
 

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Is there any data on the drive that is needed...ie, pictures, documents? If so you can try Recuva and try and recover data and store it on an extenal hdd.
The hard drive contained mainly the baby pictures of my second child, a novel that my wife was working on, and a few importantish spread sheets. Everything else on it was could be recovered elsewhere. So all in all, the content had quite a lot of sentimental value, but no real financial value.

I tried Recuva (purchased the full version to get support), but when I run it my main computer crashed during disk image creation and when I skipped over that step it just returns the message "Failed to scan the following drivers: E:: Unable to determine file system type", which I assume is a result of me using TestDisk but WITHOUT formatting the HD. I guess the drive is basically in HD limbo of sorts.

However, I did make a bit of progress by using a program called iSkysoft Data Recovery, which is able to dig into the HD and find tens of gigabytes of pictures and documents. The only problem is that it doesn't tell me where that content comes from exactly on the HD so it's all over the place and there's no easy way for me to find what exactly I need. It also claims that a lot of said files are corrupted, but it has genuinely been able to recover some files as well.
 
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