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Unable to access external hard drive

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I connected my external harddrive the other day to access some files (I'd connected it earlier that day with no problem at all, and removed it via the Safely Remove USB option) but when I connect it now, it is displaying in My Computer as a "Local Disk" instead of removable disk, and when I try to Explore, it tells me that the drive needs Formatting

But what I don't get, is that I had to run some maintenance on my laptop by booting a Linux OS via CD, and when I'm using the Linux system, I can access the external hard drive with no problem at all and can read/write any data to/from it

It's a 1TB WD drive, so I read up that I could create a direct copy of the drive, however due to it being such a large size (500GB of it is occupied) and my laptop only having 2 150GB HDDs, I can't create a backup image due to the size

Do I need to format it? And if so, is there a way for me to recover the data on there? Some of it is really vital, but some isn't important
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