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Bad hard drive, how to recover?


Parth Modi
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Hey guys,

I was about to go at this myself, but i decided that before i accidentally wipe my data and ask you guys. My hard drive went bad in my windows vista PC in a strange way. At first, my computer would hang for about 20 seconds when i tried to access the hard drive, but i could still see the data. Then my computer blue screened whenever i tried writing data to the hard drive. After i realized it was the hard drive that was causing the problem, I took it out. Now, when i try to put it back in, or hook it up through a USB docking station, the hard drive doesn't get recognized at all, not even in disk management.

Anyone know how I can get the data back? I was thinking maybe using a linux live distro and copying the data to another drive. But if there is an easier way, please let me know.

Thanks!

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Try a live linux CD and see if it can see your drive. If not then it has well and truely died and will need to be looked at by a professional (i.e. will cost a lot of money). If it can see it then copy as much off as possible as you don't know how long the drive will last.

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1. Sounds like it might be the controller. If it's the controller you could get an identical drive and swap the PCBs. Good luck.

2. If it's the drive motor you can try putting the drive in the freezer for about 2 hours. Take it out and try powering it up. If it works you'll have anywhere from 5-30 minutes before it will fail again. Since you're using USB you can try leaving it in the freezer to keep it cold and you'll have a little more working time.

3. You could try removing the platters and putting them in an identical drive and getting the data off. Depending on how clean your environment is you'll have 5-?? minutes of working time.

The only method I've successfully used is 2. I got 30 minutes each time and got it to work 3 times. After that the driver refused to spin up but I had gotten all the data off.

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Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the info. I tried using GParted to see if i could copy some data. The problem i get is the drive loads up with errors about bad cluster accounting and that i must run chkdsk /r and reboot twice. But the problem is that windows freezes up with the drive plugged in. Freezing didn't seem to work either.

I tried running NTFS4DOS off the Ultimate Boot CD to run chkdsk. But i keep getting a CauseWay error 09: Unrecovable exception.

I'm going to try hiren's next. If you guys have any more suggestions I would love to hear them and thanks for all the help so far!

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So i tried out the HDD regenerator. After it gets to a certain point it starts to think that the disk is no longer attatched and stops working. I ran it through Partition magic pro on the same cd and it says that it has a bad partition. Does anyone know how to recreate the partition without losing data.

I am pretty confident that the disk isn't bad and will probably work once i reformat it, its just getting the data off of it now that is the pain.

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My friend had a problem with bad sectors/indices on his XP partition. He tried booting BackTrack but it gave the "run chkdsk on Windows before I can mount this drive safely" error. I tried force mounting it, but got a Device I/O error. I brought over a HDD that I had XP installed on and as soon as it booted it ran chkdsk on the HDD itself, fixing all the problems and restoring his drive to normal within a few minutes (500GB drive). You might wanna try a PE. I think BartPE includes chkdsk automatically.

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I agree with the others about running chkdsk /r, but it seems we have to get you there first. Try "HDAT2" on the UBCD. It is under Hard Disk Tools > Diagnostic (I believe). All the way at the bottom of the list. It will take a while depending on how bad the disk is, and it will BEEP at EVERY error, but it has been a lifesaver for me in the past. When it finishes (if it shows bad sectors repaired) you should then be able to successfully run chkdsk.

@MRGRIM - HDD Regenerator is a great tool to have around.

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Usually in a case like this, I will image the drive to another via a sector copy before I attempt anything. If the drive does actually have a problem, you want to get as much of that data off of it as you can. If the drive is failing, the less you have it hooked up and spinning, the better. The better your odds on not having to go to extreme measures to recover the data.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Throw it in the freezer for a bit then do the recovery methods mention above. you will have better luck with a cold drive.

This is very true, when i first heard it i never beleived it but it works. My 40GB HD was fried with my resume on it which was important so i can have all the dates and stuff, i threw it in the freezer overnight and it worked perfect the next day

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This is very true, when i first heard it i never beleived it but it works. My 40GB HD was fried with my resume on it which was important so i can have all the dates and stuff, i threw it in the freezer overnight and it worked perfect the next day

I have had to use that method multiple times, mostly on the the deathstar err deskstar HDDs. From what I recall it has worked on every HDD I have had to recover, which is quite a list when you work in corporate computer repair :D

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I have had to use that method multiple times, mostly on the the deathstar err deskstar HDDs. From what I recall it has worked on every HDD I have had to recover, which is quite a list when you work in corporate computer repair :D

It REALLY does work, incase some people do not beleive it. Just make sure you get all the data you need off the drive ASAP incase it crashes again..

Corporate computer repair? You did not have a bunch of HD's stashed in the fridge at work right? lol j/k

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Aye, the freezer method worked for me too more than once... at least long enough to get a few critical files off and then to make an image of the drive. One thing of note is you may want to put the HD in a ziplock freezer bag or even better a vacuum sealed bag.

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