I know, it sounds bad, and it might be, but I have to TRY to recover my data. Long story short:

Has sata drive connected via usb adapter and shared via samba over lan where I then used it as a 'media' drive, it was very busy and then I went to unmount one day and it wouldn't, so I disconnected it when my reboot attempt failed. This was bad, very bad I have learned, and I was stupid.

That said now it has buffer i/o errors and doesn't properly mount. Either the drive is now failing, which I doubt even though ddrescue shows bad sectors, I think it has lost its partition table. The question is can it be recovered using gpart?

The first 3 or so attempts at getting it to mount it was actually showing the correct layout, and if I had taken the time to google the error I was getting before going any further, I would have made a copy of that layout, but I did not and do not have it now, and now it won't show the layout. That brings me to the next question:

With a ddrescue image, how will I mount it or access the files if it has no partition table or layout of some kind. It is doing the backup now but ddrescue and everything else I have tried now only shows the device as sdb and no partitions.

Will I have to use file carving or something like scalpel to actually get the data from the image after it is saved? There are very few bad sectors shown when I run ddrescue or first boot and it tries to mount, and the sectors are at the beginning of the disc, I'm guessing that is why the partition table is corrupt or missing? I only think it is corrupt or missing because of how it WAS showing the first few times I tried to mount it initially after the errors started, it shows the correct layout and just wouldn't mount. I should have made the image then but I didn't do that either.

Any advice is sound, and any criticism is also taken to heart, I need it. I have been very hard on myself over the last 48 hours when this started, as I have music from the past 15 years on this drive. I should NOT have used my primary backup drive in the manner I did, and nor should you!

Gratz.

edit: a bit of info. The drives a 320gb sata 7200rpm, less than a year old, and had no smart errors or benchmark problems the last I ran them less than 2 weeks ago. I think it has 5 partitions on it. The very last one being 290gb's exactly, 290 is what you would see in the Disk Utility in Gnome 3 for that partition, and I am almost positive it is the very last partition on the disk but I could be wrong. That partition is probably ext4. There may have been 1 ntfs but I doubt it. The rest were ext3/4 and a swap. The machine it was running on and shared over samba was running MInt 9, 32 bit. If I can get the log of the i/o buffer error I'll post it following this.