Had a crash on my Lacie 500gb USB drive – suddenly the files were gone and xp did not recognize the partition. There was about 400gb of stuff on the drive, nothing important so no big deal. Anyway this could happen to more important stuff sometime, so I tried to recover (as an exercise). Borrowed a similar drive from a friend and did a backup to that drive. I used freeware tools from http://www.smartpctools.com/products/
Used NTFS recovery to recover the files and had them copied over to the other usb drive. It took over 24 hours! Maybe it’s faster working with drives attached to the mainboard or with other recovery tools – I don’t know, but it seems you must have some patience.
I would say about 99% of the files were recovered and working which was impressing.
Step 2 would be to repartion, reformat and copy the files back to my own drive – which would probably take another 24hours. Anyway Smartpctools had another freeware tool: Smart Partition Recovery. It uses a database of known disks to instantly recover the partition on damaged drives. With my files already safely backed up, I dared to try just that. Smart Partition Recovery found my drive and I executed recovery. Took less than a second – and everything was back on the drive as normal – totally amazing. And yes, it is still in order 3 weeks later.
Just repeating what’s been said in other posts:
1. Do no operations on the crashed drive.
2. Use file recovery software and recover your files to a second drive before you do anything else - if they are important to you.
3. Copy the files back or try the Smart Partition Recovery software.
Just my own opinion: large usb drives should only have a small internal, cache max 2mb , to avoid write errors, and wait a few seconds after operation before detachment. Do not activate drive delay on usb drives.