I cannot get my HP laptop with Windows 8 to recognise my passport external hard drive. The posts I have read to fix this issue all say it will delete the contents of the hard drive if I fix this issue. Is there a way to see what's on the hard drive without deleting the contents? Any help is appreciated.
Sorry that you are facing some issues with your WD drive.
You really need to provide some more information on the issue. Is the drive powering up? Is the drive recognized by Disk Management and how?
You can start with some basic troubleshooting as just attaching the HDD to a different system with a different cable. In case the HDD is not even powering up, then I guess that either the enclosure or the HDD itself has failed. In that case, your safest bet of recovering the data would be to contact a data recovery company.
In case the HDD powers up, you can go to Disk Management and see how is the drive recognized over there. See whether it has healthy partitions/file system. Depending on that, you will have to use some data/partition recovery tool.