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My Hard Drive Died :(

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February 15, 2006 3:05:49 PM

I came home from work about a week ago and my computer had locked up. I rebooted it and get that wonderful disk failure message. I tried rebooting it again and I got the same thing.

Is there any way to recover my data (mainly just pictures) off of my hard drive even though it's physically failing?

More about : hard drive died

February 15, 2006 3:51:09 PM

Not that I know of, that is why I back up my files specially the personal ones. But I've heard some people who take apart the broken hard drive then remove and replace the disk to a working hard drive.

In the future you should back your files like photos and burn it to a cd. Its the safest way.
February 15, 2006 3:58:56 PM

You probably wont' be able to recover them yourself but a data recovery service can probably do it. They aren't cheap though!

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February 16, 2006 2:55:25 PM

Guess it looks like I'm SOL then. :( 
February 16, 2006 3:22:55 PM

Um, try sticking the drive in another machine and reading from it. That message is generic, meaning it can have many causes. I got the same error message when I made an error while editing my boot.ini file, to remove dual boot.

That error could also be that the partition information has been lost. There are programs to recover partitions, and most are fairly easy to use.

What I'm asking is: are you sure your HDD is broken? Try what I've mentioned above before making that assumption.
February 16, 2006 3:43:53 PM

Forlorn, what's the exact message it gives you? You may still be able to access the disk.
February 16, 2006 4:20:29 PM

I'm not 100% sure, I haven't turned it on in a few days. I'll have to look at it when I get home from work tonight.

I think it just says "Error: Disk Failure" or something along those lines.
February 16, 2006 4:27:50 PM

It's possible the Master Boot Record got screwed up. If that's the case then you can repair it through the Windows Recovery Console.

This is a funny question, but you wouldn't happen to be running Trend Micro's PC-Cillin anti-virus, would you?
February 16, 2006 5:08:43 PM

Some times when you down drives they don't spin backup. You can usually hear the drive spinning. If the drive is loose it's like a gyro-scope. Sometimes replacing the controller cards work if the failure wasn't hardware, disk, heads.... I had equipment that ran 24/7 in mission critical things. I just hated to have to shut them down, knowing that the odds were pretty good it wouldn't startup. I had to let them cool down and sometime tap on the drive to get them to spin up.

DATA recovery can be pretty expensive, depending on how the drive failed. These companies keep at least 1 drive of everything from all mfg. They swap controller part first which is the most common failure mode.

If you go this way you need to match cards. Most mfg use the same card for the series, not capacity. So a 40gig controller card could also work on a 60 or 20 .... Revision # genrally make no different, they change with production runs sometimes.
February 16, 2006 5:31:38 PM

These guys don't have a clue: it's like the blind leading the deaf. :p 

Provided the drive still spins, "GetDataBack" will extract the remaining data from it faster than Windows could copy the files from one disc to another.

With a couple of provisos:

1) Disconnect drive immediately, and do NOT reconnect it to the PC until you have GetDataBack installed and ready to recover data.

2) The Drive Controller board needs to be operational. These seldom fail, but even if they do, it might be possible to swap a controller board from the same model HDD for the recovcery process. I have had success in the past using this method.

3) Get the right version of GetDataBack: NTFS or FAT32 according to the file system of the affected drive.

Moral of story: Back up Porn regularly.
February 16, 2006 6:09:08 PM

Quote:
These guys don't have a clue: it's like the blind leading the deaf. :p 

Provided the drive still spins, "GetDataBack" will extract the remaining data from it faster than Windows could copy the files from one disc to another.

With a couple of provisos:

1) Disconnect drive immediately, and do NOT reconnect it to the PC until you have GetDataBack installed and ready to recover data.

2) The Drive Controller board needs to be operational. These seldom fail, but even if they do, it might be possible to swap a controller board from the same model HDD for the recovcery process. I have had success in the past using this method.

3) Get the right version of GetDataBack: NTFS or FAT32 according to the file system of the affected drive.

Moral of story: Back up Porn regularly.


I'm guessing the drive is not wasted yet and he can still access Windows without re-installing or taking anything apart.

You really want this guy to go through all that when all he might need to do is take his (or a friend's) Windows XP disc to get into the Recovery Console and type FIXBOOT C: or FIXMBR

According to Runtime's Website he's going to need access to at least another "Healthy" PC to do the recovery process as well as purchase a license code before he can copy his data to a new drive.

Wait until he gets back to us with more "clues" before tossing out any drastic measures like taking hard drives apart and swapping drive controller boards.
February 16, 2006 6:21:15 PM

If chkdsk or fixmbr don't fix your problem and you can't successfully boot from that drive. Try putting the drive in another working pc as a 2nd drive. Boot the healthy drive on that pc and you should be able to access your files.

You can also try SpinRite 6 available for download at www.grc.com. For $89 bucks you can't go wrong, it's a valuable tool to have.

It can recover almost all unreadable sectors on a working drive. All hard drives have bad sectors and continue to grow bad sectors over the life of the drive. Sometimes those bad sectors grow where critical boot or system files are.
February 17, 2006 7:23:08 PM

OK, I tried booting it up last night and the error I received was just "Unable to read from disk"
I tried listening for noise and didn't hear anything, but my cpu fan is rather loud, so I'm not sure if the disk was spinning or not.
February 17, 2006 7:56:13 PM

Try pluging that drive into a different computer if possible. Then you may be able to transfer the data off of it.
February 17, 2006 9:36:20 PM

Well I suggest following Microsoft's instructions on how to access the Windows Recovery Console. I recommend printing this out so you have it for reference.

If you can gain access to the Recovery Console then you have a very good chance of recovering the data because you were able to access the partition.

You should chkdsk right there from the Recovery Console to see if it detects any errors and can repair them. If it does, exit out of the Recovery Console and see if the machine will boot up again.

If it doesn't find anything, you can decide on whether you want to try using the FIXBOOT or FIXMBR commands listed on the site above, or if you want to try the other suggestions using data recovery software posted by other users. I've never had a problem using FIXMBR, but then again I've only used it on simple one partition drives. If you have multiple partitions on the drive then you really need to pay attention the instructions Microsoft gives out on the command.

If you are able to boot again, I would suggest backing up your data and transfering it to a new drive.

If you cannot gain any access at all to the Windows Recovery Console, then you will have to try using one of the data recovery methods posted by the other users.

Unfortunately there's risk either way.
February 22, 2006 3:02:29 PM

I won't have a chance to try any of this out until next week, but I appreciate the help and I'll let you guys know what happens once I do get around to it.
!