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Cheap Hard Drive Recovery

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August 21, 2009 2:34:40 AM

Hello. I have a hard drive that has a mechanical failure. Maxtor DiamondMax 11 6H500R0 500GB IDE. Had already tried taking it to local companies for recovery, but they all refer to different cleanroom recovery services with no clear price. Pretty much have gotten the lowest quote of $599 for just the .jpg's recovered off of it.

Had backed up most of the files, but my girlfriend was in the process of organizing all of our 2009 pictures and videos when the hard drive seized up. She is pretty devastated and I am pretty bummed out about it too. There was seriously a lot of information that still needed to be backed up. I'm just glad that I had already backed up the pictures and videos from 2008 and before.

Having a hard time finding a service that can give me an exact price. Also, I really need to find the CHEAPEST, but still good quality service possible. We are both poor college students and this hurts us big time.

Does anybody know a reliable and cheap clean-room recovery service?
August 21, 2009 2:52:45 AM

As you found, data recovery is very expensive. From what I understand $600 is actually on the low end of cost.

The only thing you can try is putting the hard drive in a plastic zip lock bag and then put it in the freezer for a few hours. Then take it out and hook it up to the computer while it's still cold. Freezing a non-working drive sometimes will make it work long enough to copy off the data.
August 21, 2009 3:08:24 AM

$600 is the cheapest I ever heard of. With photos you really should use online storage.
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August 21, 2009 8:37:25 PM

orangegator said:
As you found, data recovery is very expensive. From what I understand $600 is actually on the low end of cost.

The only thing you can try is putting the hard drive in a plastic zip lock bag and then put it in the freezer for a few hours. Then take it out and hook it up to the computer while it's still cold. Freezing a non-working drive sometimes will make it work long enough to copy off the data.


I have heard about that before, but if it does not work, is it dangerous to the future restoration?
a b G Storage
August 21, 2009 8:54:10 PM

if it's a stuck head or platter you can open the drive up and unstick them
August 21, 2009 9:10:10 PM

505090 said:
if it's a stuck head or platter you can open the drive up and unstick them


Trying to open a hard drive without knowing exactly what you are doing and outside of a clean room will surly kill it and any chance to have the data professionally recovered.

Freezing it should not have any affect on the ability to have the data recovered professionally.
a b G Storage
August 21, 2009 9:19:15 PM

orangegator said:
Trying to open a hard drive without knowing exactly what you are doing and outside of a clean room will surly kill it and any chance to have the data professionally recovered.

Freezing it should not have any affect on the ability to have the data recovered professionally.


While certainly not the safest method of doing it, it is not nearly as bad as you imply.
August 21, 2009 9:35:35 PM

orangegator said:
Freezing it should not have any affect on the ability to have the data recovered professionally.


I am close to wanting to freeze it, but when I google "why freezing a hard drive is a bad idea" it has some pretty convincing stories about possibly warping high precision internal pieces. It is a 500gb drive...

If some of it was damaged by freezing it, then it would make a clean-room recovery $600 job, a $1800 job.
August 23, 2009 11:17:04 AM

DoctorPhilgood said:
I am close to wanting to freeze it, but when I google "why freezing a hard drive is a bad idea" it has some pretty convincing stories about possibly warping high precision internal pieces. It is a 500gb drive...

If some of it was damaged by freezing it, then it would make a clean-room recovery $600 job, a $1800 job.


A few comments for you,

Freezing a hard drive is, as you've read, NOT a good idea. The obvious problem with freezing a hard drive is that it will cause condensation inside the drive, which in turn makes it more likely that a microscopic spec of dust would fall onto the platter enveloped in a tiny droplet of water. This could cause a head crash after which no amount of money could recover your data - not even Ontrack can retrieve data from a platter that has endured a head crash. For those who have any doubts about this, please call Ontrack.

However, I have, on occasion seen a drive work for a short period of time after being frozen but, I don't think it was freezing it that caused it to work again, albeit temporarily. In every case the drive worked only for a few minutes, not long enough to retrieve any significant amount of data.

I have seen drives that after sitting on the shelf for months started to work again for several hours before failing again. I personally owned a Western Digital that did this.

Opening a hard drive outside of a clean room is asking for trouble. Hard drives and dust do not get along at all. The average room is very dusty, even those with granite floors (we won't even talk about a carpeted room). This dust can be seen at the naked eye when sunlight shines at the right angle through a narrow passage and it is no exaggeration to say it is abundant. Conclusion: don't open your hard drive.

I suggest you "don't bother" the drive. Trying too hard to make it work could have the opposite effect. Let someone that really knows what they are doing deal with the drive. That said, keep reading.

as Daship pointed out, $600 for data recovery in a clean room is unheard of cheap. Ontrack charges $150 to evaluate the drive and tell you if they can recover data from it along with a quote of how much it will cost. The $150 are _not_ refundable, that is the fee for them to inspect it. I would actually be a bit leary of such a low price. It sounds more like the price someone would charge you to attempt recovery through software means but not in a clean room.

Now a few questions for you

1. Does the drive make "unusual" noises ? Do you hear a series of maybe 10 to 20 clicks before it stops clicking ? Do you hear a whiplash kind of sound multiple times ?

2. Can the BIOS of your machine see the drive ? if yes, can it assign a drive letter to it ?

Once I have the answer to those questions I may be able to guide you a little closer to getting your data back.

HTH.



August 23, 2009 11:44:11 PM

What it does is, when it gets power, it gives a strangely musical series of error beeping and then a vibration which sounds like small gears skipping teeth. At first I had hoped that the vibration was from the mini speaker on the board of the drive, but I am starting to think that it is a mechanical problem. It does not sound like the heads scraping on the platter, it definitely sounds like skipping gear teeth.

When I try to put it in my computer, the startup freezes. I am not using this drive as the operating system. It is not a Windows disk, it is just a data disk. I will check to see if I can get to bios before it freezes...
August 23, 2009 11:58:47 PM

DoctorPhilgood said:
What it does is, when it gets power, it gives a strangely musical series of error beeping and then a vibration which sounds like small gears skipping teeth. At first I had hoped that the vibration was from the mini speaker on the board of the drive, but I am starting to think that it is a mechanical problem. It does not sound like the heads scraping on the platter, it definitely sounds like skipping gear teeth.

When I try to put it in my computer, the startup freezes. I am not using this drive as the operating system. It is not a Windows disk, it is just a data disk. I will check to see if I can get to bios before it freezes...


Nope, the computer even freezes before I can get into bios.
a b G Storage
August 24, 2009 12:32:11 AM

There is no such thing as "Cheap Hard Drive Recovery".

I would be very leary of the $600 recovery price. You may end up losing everything.
It would be far better to trust a reputable source, and pay twice that amount, and get your data all back, than pay $600 and maybe end up with only a small piece of it.
Expensive lesson, I feel you and your girlfriends pain. Hope you find a solution.
August 24, 2009 2:35:26 AM

DoctorPhilgood said:
Nope, the computer even freezes before I can get into bios.


Unfortunately to figure out if your drive has a mechanical problem I'd have to hear it myself.

From what you've said about how it sounds, I cannot be sure either way.

For lack of a better alternative, I am going to suggest that we make the optimistic assumption that your drive is mechanically sound (this could be the case) and proceed from there hoping we luck out.

If the assumption is correct (unproven thus far) then the reason is doesn't work is because the drive's controller has developed a problem. Again, if the assumption is correct, replacing the controller would solve the problem. If the assumption is incorrect, then you'd know for sure the problem is mechanical.

If you are comfortable with my reasoning and, are willing to risk a little bit of money to see if you luck out then, the next step is to locate a replacement controller board (usually not hard to do). They usually run about $50.00. The other thing you can try is purchasing another drive that is _identical_ to the one that has failed - this isn't so easy because most times you don't get the drive controller's specs but it usually works anyway because controller revisions don't alter the way data is stored on the drive. In other words, it's nice if you can get an _identical_ drive but it often not necessary for it to be identical - close enough often does the trick.

To locate a replacement controller, look carefully at the labeling on the controller board, there is usually a label with a series of numbers. Google that. From the results it should be pretty obvious whether or not you got what you were looking for. On the label that is on the drive, there is usually a series of numbers that indicates the board model that is installed on the drive. Without seeing the drive, I can only guess but, a little trial and error with Google should yield the results you are looking for.

Locating a replacement hard drive is obviously easier, and I am tempted to recommend you go this route. If the manufacture place and date of the replacement is very close (or the same) to the one you've got, you often end up with something that will do. Locating a replacement hard drive has another advantage: you always test the drive you got, if it works (which it should) then you know the controller is working. If you order the controller separately and have no way to test it, you could have unknowningly gotten a bad controller.

I am a bit uncomfortable because without the piece of hardware in my hand, I can only give you guidelines. I'm sure you get the idea of what should be done. A good dose of common sense, carefulness and precision are needed to obtain good results.

The choice on what to do next is yours.

HTH.
March 30, 2011 12:02:26 PM

Hello all!

I try to wake this thread up again. I have had a crash that seems very similar to this. See the link below for complete history:

http://www.computing.net/answers/hardware/wd-green-1tb-...

After reading 440bx's comprehensive posts here, I got hold of a replacemnet PCB with exact match on the PCB number and revision. I swapped it araound, and the clicking noise dissapeared, but after the BIOS serarch for a while, and let me know there is a SATA drive in port 1 and 2, I gtt an error message at startup: "SATA Port1 Device Error" "Press F1 to continue".

I have tried a lot of possible BIOS configurations with no help. Win starts ok from the my new SSD, and after win boot, Win 7 found new hardware, and installed a device driver (ATA disk), but its not showing any info on the drive.

Tried to run WD diagnostics tool (win), but i fails at the very beginning with message "cable error". Also tried the DOS tool, but it says "no drive detected".

I feel I'm so close. The disk spins up, it is there connected, but I just can't acess the data. Any ideas on what to do?
Please help!!!



March 31, 2011 8:28:54 PM

Wow... That seems simpler than first antisipated...
Problem is though... There is no chip at my U12, and I cant see any other 8 pin chip either... ?????
I have taken photo of both boards, but havnet transferd to the pc yet. I'll post them if you want to have a look...
a c 288 G Storage
March 31, 2011 11:42:17 PM

Location U12 on your board is probably vacant, if it exists at all. Instead, newer WD drives store the unique "adaptive" data inside the Marvell MCU (big "M").
April 1, 2011 6:36:19 AM

Hmmm....

I suppose that poses a problem for me. Any suggestions on what to do next? Have I found the perfect match PCB, but I'm just not gonna manage all the same?
a c 288 G Storage
April 1, 2011 11:15:36 PM

I am not aware of any freeware utility that is able to read and write Marvell flash code. There are commercial tools such as PC3000 from Ace Laboratory and WD HD Doctor from Salvation Data, but these are expensive.

Ask your board supplier if he is able to provide a firmware transfer service. Some will do it for US$10 - $20.
April 2, 2011 9:27:04 AM

My board supplier is from china... I'm in Norway.....
April 2, 2011 12:08:02 PM

Search "data recovery" plus your local place in Google and there will be some data recovery service center for you to select and compare.

Usually clean room data recovery service would take more than $500.

However if your hard drive is not physically damaged or got new files overwritten, why don't you use some recovery tool to restore files. There are many tools that can do the job and here is one that i want to recommend. It is free. http://www.formatted-recovery.com/free-format-recovery....
April 5, 2011 4:11:32 PM

techeasy said:
Search "data recovery" plus your local place in Google and there will be some data recovery service center for you to select and compare.

Usually clean room data recovery service would take more than $500.

However if your hard drive is not physically damaged or got new files overwritten, why don't you use some recovery tool to restore files. There are many tools that can do the job and here is one that i want to recommend. It is free. http://www.formatted-recovery.com/free-format-recovery....


Thanks for the tip Techeasy...
I tried the program you recomend. On the deepscan recovery option it seems to find my drive. Together with my other drives and partitions, there is one drive, with no partion, and no information, and it states 0.51kB. I belive this is my disk, but when I press recover, it find no files (no shocker after the 0.51kB).

I also get a simlar result when trying out a program called File scavenger. It reports the drive as 1kB, with no information at all. I get this message when searching:
"Media errors reading sectors 0 to 0 on PhysicalDrive0. Use Options, Search, Sector Exclusion to skip bad sectors or use Disk Recoup(tm)."

Any ideas?
a c 288 G Storage
April 6, 2011 3:12:26 AM

It appears that your drive only has one sector (512 bytes). What capacity does BIOS report for the drive? What information do utilities such as HD Sentinel and HDDScan report? ISTM that your drive has an internal fault, although it could also be a PCB fault. It does not appear to be a logical fault, ie a file system issue.
April 6, 2011 7:34:35 PM

fzabkar said:
It appears that your drive only has one sector (512 bytes). What capacity does BIOS report for the drive? What information do utilities such as HD Sentinel and HDDScan report? ISTM that your drive has an internal fault, although it could also be a PCB fault. It does not appear to be a logical fault, ie a file system issue.



Bios reports nothing on the drive. It just registers that something is there, and then after a while gives me "SATA Port1 Device Error Press F1 to continue". After that, win7 booted, and found the disk, installed a "ATA Drive" driver, but doesn't show any info on the disk or any partitions either.


HDDScan reports little to none, but

Identity info shows the following:

LBA: 1

Name:__________ Value
LBA Support:_______ No
ATA Version:________ 0
Logical Sector Size:__ 512 bytes
Physical Sector Size:__ 512 bytes
Cache size:_________ Not Reported
ECC bytes:_________ Not Reported
Nominal Form factor:__ Not Reported
DMA Support:_______ No
Interface:__________ PATA
Connected through:__ IDE-onboard controller



And the surface tests:

Test : BR-Butterfly Read

Executing
Bad block found, start LBA : -1



Test : VR-Verify

Executing
Bad block found, start LBA : 0



Test : RD-Read

Executing
Bad block found, start LBA : 0



Although it seems like an internal fault, I would still say PCB, since the original PCB gave me clicking sounds, and no recognition what so ever in BIOS. With new board, it spins up, and after all finds something. Do you think it can be solved by firmware swap?
a c 288 G Storage
April 6, 2011 11:20:54 PM

The ATA Identify Device command is reporting nonsensical information for your replacement board. This is a direct consequence of the mismatched "adaptive" data in the Marvell MCU's internal flash memory. You MUST transfer the adaptive data to your donor PCB. However, even after doing so, you may still be back to the original clicking fault. Clicking is usually symptomatic of weak heads or bad media or a bad preamp. One significant exception to this rule are those WD drives that are based on the Tornado architecture. This family is known for clicking issues that are related to faulty PCBs. That said, I don't know whether Caviar Green drives are similarly affected.
May 7, 2011 6:56:32 AM

i have the same drive failure as yours. I purchased the board today and have already changed out the bios. All my stuff came up and I'm back in business! Thanks to hddzone.com, just cost me less than $40!
a c 288 G Storage
May 21, 2011 8:41:48 AM

leon2046, are you a spammer? If not, then how did YOU "change out the BIOS"?

FYI, the adaptive data are internal to the Marvell MCU. You need an SMT rework station to desolder this chip. I would have expected hddzone.com to know this.

BTW, same day delivery is indeed Marvellous, if true.
May 29, 2011 6:05:08 PM

None of the above mentioned places were able to help med out.

Do you guys know of anyone else you could transfer the flash memory between my boards?
!