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Strange problem just occured with my WD Raptor. Need some expert help.

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September 5, 2009 8:54:07 PM

Hi, I just had something really odd happen to my main OS hard drive this evening. I'm running Windows XP. The drive is a WD Raptor, the 74 Gb version that was bought in January 2007. I'm sitting on the sofa having a beer with my buddy. The computer was on in the meantime playing some music. We used it a couple of times during the evening. Then, when I went over a little later to change the music, I heard a sound from the hard drive (that working sound when it's accessing files or running programs, just slightly more intense than usual) and everything froze. So I press the reset button and rebooted. Now, Windows doesn't start loading, the screen is just black after the hard drive is accessed. I hear a soft sound so I put my head next to the computer because the case is open. I hear a constant ci-click ci-click ci-click repeating over and over. It doesn't sound like the typical click of death that people describe, it's softer, more like a cross between hard drive accessing or a small pin against plastic or thin metal. It's probably useless to describe the sound, but it leads me to think there's a mechanical problem with the drive. BIOS recognizes the drive. The Ubuntu live CD I tried in order to see if I could copy my files also recognizes the drive, but I can't access it and it seems to be stuck in that clicking loop. So I let the thing cool down for a while and try it again, this time I get to the Windows loading screen, but then the clicking starts and Windows never loads. I'm stuck on the screen with that blue bar just scrolling endlessly.

I've been lucky with hard drives up till now and have very little experience with data recovery on failing drives. In spite of that, I'm usually good about backing up my files, but I've just got back from a trip and haven't gotten all the latest stuff backed up. I will need to somehow get these pictures off the drive before I toss it. I was going to freeze the drive in the fridge, but I wanted to check with the experts first. I doubt that will even work, it seems I'll have to replace part of the hard drive to get my data. Or, rather, I'll be paying a lot of money to get my data. Do you guys have any suggestions?


EDIT: Edited thread title a bit
a c 415 G Storage
September 5, 2009 9:22:29 PM

The prognosis doesn't sound good.

Have you deleted the pictures from your camera's memory card yet? I make it a habit not to delete pictures from my SD cards until they've been through 1 backup cycle on the computer.
September 5, 2009 10:10:02 PM

I got WD Raptor X and this happened to me twice already.

once system froze and then after startup drive was not recognized as a system drive. windows repair did not work - system not found on this drive or something. probably MBR or something got damaged. luckily files were intact so i just copied it to secondary drive from windows install commandline and reinstalled system.

second time [after couple months] same thing - freeze. but this time after starup during bios harddrives detection I saw somenthg like 'BxxxBxxxBxxxx' instead of 'WD150....' opened case and moved sata cable to make sure it contact. wait couple minutes to cool down harddrive. afer restart everything went back to normal. probably cables got loose.

i try not to think about it happening again - although i dont keep any critical data on C: drive anymore.

[edit] oh, and the clicking noise was there too during freeze
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a c 415 G Storage
September 6, 2009 12:34:35 AM

tomasz said:
I saw somenthg like 'BxxxBxxxBxxxx' instead of 'WD150....' opened case and moved sata cable to make sure it contact.
Reseating all of the drive cables is an excellent suggestion - definitely try that first before trying to freeze the drive.
September 6, 2009 6:52:57 AM

Yes, I reseated the cables several times in order to test it, but the same thing kept happening. The drive spins up and spins down just fine, but it goes into that accessing clicking loop very soon (seconds) after I try to boot from the drive or access files from it. Any other ideas? I'm going to try Hiren's Boot CD 9.9 right now and see if one of those tools can diagnose the problem.
September 6, 2009 7:06:12 AM

I've just used the testdisk utility and was informed that the MBR is intact with no errors, so now that's ruled out. It seems it's either some bad sectors or a mechanical error doing this now. Hiren's boot CD has so many different utilities, I'm not even sure which one to use to diagnose problems!
September 6, 2009 7:31:58 AM

I know what the problem is now, but I have no idea how to fix it. I used Ontrack that comes on the boot CD. I did a thorough hard drive test first and I got this error:

Read data command failed
Bad command
Cylinder 5 Head 51 Sector 1
Data transferred 42,771,456 bytes

So it seems the problem is a bad or corrupted sector.

I also performed a seek test that tests data integrity all over the drive. This was successful and leads me to believe that all my data is still there, it's just unaccessible because of the bad part that's close to the start of the drive.

Does anyone know a way to fix this or a way around this bad sector so that I can get my files off the drive? Any software I should buy or use?
September 6, 2009 7:43:55 AM

i_hate_flying said:
I've just used the testdisk utility and was informed that the MBR is intact with no errors, so now that's ruled out. It seems it's either some bad sectors or a mechanical error doing this now. Hiren's boot CD has so many different utilities, I'm not even sure which one to use to diagnose problems!


WD has some diagnostics, called data lifeguard, I think. As I recall, there are bootable versions of it. Don't know whether it will fix problems, or just report them.

Your issue sounds to me (from your description) to be a hard failure in a portion of the platter near or in the windows boot section. Either that, or a mechanical failure...
September 6, 2009 8:44:34 AM

Yep, that's included on this boot CD. Spinrite is too, but when I run it the program gets to the point where it starts reading the drive and then that clicking noise starts putting Spinrite into an eternal reading process.

So I ran the Data Lifeguard Diagnostics and I get:

TEST COMPLETED WITH READ ELEMENT FAILURE
ERROR/STATUS CODE: 0007
PLEASE BACK UP YOUR DATA AND THEN RUN EXTENDED TEST OR RUN A FULL MEDIA SCAN NOW TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE

TEST DURATION: 0 minute(s) and 9 second(s)

I'm running the full media test now, might take a little while, but I heard that clicking only at the beginning of the test, so I guess that's where my bad blocks are. I know the data is still there, hopefully this program can help me by repairing the damage so I can just get my files off.

Barring that, I guess my next step will to use Partition Magic to create a new partition encompassing the bad sector. Windows won't be able to boot because the boot files seem to be where the bad blocks are, but at least I'll be able to access the rest of my files. I hope.
September 6, 2009 9:01:10 AM

So the test ran and I get this at the end:

UNABLE TO CORRECT THE ERRORS FOUND - PLEASE CONTACT TECHNICAL SUPPORT
ERROR/STATUS CODE: 0226

So I look up this code on the WD site and I get:

Sector Relocation Error - Failure to relocate a sector during drive repair. The drive has to be replaced.

It seems that a portion of the disk is physically damaged. Now what? I know there are some programs out there that use brute force copying in such situations, but I just can't think of any names. That would pretty much be all I need, and then I could just replace the drive.
September 6, 2009 9:27:47 AM

i_hate_flying said:
So the test ran and I get this at the end:

UNABLE TO CORRECT THE ERRORS FOUND - PLEASE CONTACT TECHNICAL SUPPORT
ERROR/STATUS CODE: 0226

So I look up this code on the WD site and I get:

Sector Relocation Error - Failure to relocate a sector during drive repair. The drive has to be replaced.

It seems that a portion of the disk is physically damaged. Now what? I know there are some programs out there that use brute force copying in such situations, but I just can't think of any names. That would pretty much be all I need, and then I could just replace the drive.


Try getdataback... The runtime version will show what is recoverable, but the recovery version will cost something like $80 USD. DON'T try to repartition around the errors, as you don't really know where the errors are. (I would have thought that WD's tools would have provided a better log than that...)

WD also suggests calling their customer support. Might be worth a phone call, but I doubt that you'd get any joy. Still, I've been wrong in the past...
September 6, 2009 10:08:56 AM

Yeah, unfortunately that was the extent of the WD log. I was rather surprised that it wasn't more detailed. I'll look for getdataback. Also found unstoppable copier by Roadkil. Says Hiren's boot CD contains this, but I don't see it anywhere in the menus. I might have to install a fresh copy of Windows onto one of my other hard drives in order to run these programs. There's just one problem with that, none of my hard drives are empty, all contain stuff that I cannot delete!
September 6, 2009 10:20:36 AM

Getdataback can run from a bartpe boot CD, so no need to mess with your other drives. (In fact, I'd remove their power cables prior to trying) It's been a long time since I've used it, but I think that they include a pretty detailed 'how to' section on their website. (www.runtime.org). Many moons ago I made a boot CD with an older copy of it, but that was a long time ago and my memory is short.
September 6, 2009 10:48:03 AM

I just used a trial of Ontrack Professional. It found all my files and I can see them from within the file browser. I can also click on them to recover them, the problem is that when I browse to find a place to back them up, it doesn't give me the option to back the files up to any of my internal disks (I have two internal hard drives), nor my external USB hard drives (I have two). The program itself recognizes the other hard drives, but they're just not there when I need to restore. It's strange, but I also don't believe that this is a crippled program I'm using. I've been fooling around with this Boot CD a little more because there are some options to boot with USB support etc. It recognizes my USB 8 Gb drive, but I can't do anything with it. This is maddening!

Sweet, I'm going to try to play with getdataback now.
September 6, 2009 1:20:07 PM

Oh man, I was finally able to boot into MiniPE in order to use the recovery tools. The image I have includes the NTFS recovery version of Getdataback, which is running right now! It hit two sectors that had gone bad and it just so happens that these two sectors contain Windows XP's boot files, nothing new that hasn't been backed up. So right now I'm using Getdataback to transfer 29.3 Gb of files to an external hard drive, and it's 54% done. Unfortunately, as I type this, it seems that things have frozen up a bit and they don't seem to be transferring at the moment....
September 6, 2009 1:47:22 PM

sorry to just barge into the middle of all the helpfull suggestions but ..... why not buy a Vantec hard drive dock and another large capacity drive (1 terabyte samsung or WD) , then remove all drives from your computer, install your OS on the new drive (full updates) , then plug in the hard drive dock and seat the failing raptor in it . there is a very good chance that you will be able to see everything on the drive and all you need to do is cut and paste the files to the new drive . after that you can then RMA the raptor (5yr warrenty) . if that all works for you you can then choose a new small/medium capacity RE3 or RE4 WD drive to get your computer back to normal and then continue to use the dock as a means to easily back up information to any SATA hard drive and then put the drive(s) back into the shipping container for storage.

myself ..... i never have large capacity drive as my main hard drive (except for experimenting) , that forces you to move large volumes of music, pictures, video (anything you want to save) when the drive with your corruptable OS is getting full
September 6, 2009 2:20:10 PM

I've just successfully recovered all my critical files! Getdataback running under MiniPE did just the trick. I had to restart everything halfway through the first recovery because it all froze. Could have been something to do with recovering to my eSATA 1 TB drive, so the second time I recovered to my WD 1 TB internal and it worked flawlessly. The final report is worse than I expected. There are a number of bad sectors all over the disk. They're mostly in the 83000 range, but also in the 63000000 range. Critical files to Windows on my drive are in the 83000 range and that's also quite close to the start of the disk, which explains the problems with accessing the drive and booting up.

Thank you, everyone, for all your help today. This had all the workings of a nightmare, but in the end it turned out well. I'd also like to thank the makers of these boot CDs I used, they took forever to start up because they continuously tried accessing the bad drive, but once they finally got going, they worked perfectly!
September 6, 2009 2:26:44 PM

BadKharma, my main OS drive was the Raptor 74. The drive for games is a 500 Gb internal 7200.10. The other internal drive I'm using is a WD 1 TB for media and whatnot. I also have a WD 1 TB running on eSATA, a 500 Gb WD MyBook that my girlfriend mostly uses for her stuff, an old Maxtor 300 Gb (6 years and going strong), and another 1 TB external that I just got for weekly backups of the critical files. Haven't even gotten it out of the box. Then this happened...

As for the Raptor, I'm definitely going to RMA it, I just don't know how to do it because I've never had to do that. I bought it from an authorized seller in the States/Canada, but I'm living permanently in Europe these days, so I'm not sure how that will work...?
a c 415 G Storage
September 6, 2009 5:01:14 PM

i_hate_flying said:
I've just successfully recovered all my critical files!
Congratulations, you can consider yourself very lucky! If the error had been in the file system metadata you would have had a much more difficult time of it.
September 6, 2009 9:18:16 PM

i_hate_flying said:
BadKharma, my main OS drive was the Raptor 74. The drive for games is a 500 Gb internal 7200.10. The other internal drive I'm using is a WD 1 TB for media and whatnot. I also have a WD 1 TB running on eSATA, a 500 Gb WD MyBook that my girlfriend mostly uses for her stuff, an old Maxtor 300 Gb (6 years and going strong), and another 1 TB external that I just got for weekly backups of the critical files. Haven't even gotten it out of the box. Then this happened...

As for the Raptor, I'm definitely going to RMA it, I just don't know how to do it because I've never had to do that. I bought it from an authorized seller in the States/Canada, but I'm living permanently in Europe these days, so I'm not sure how that will work...?


Good result! Getdataback does it again... I've used it three or four times in the past, and it had never let me down. I have been lucky recently (and drives have improved a lot...) so haven't had to use it for several years. Good to know that it is still a reliable tool.

@siminal: there are two copies of the metadata, stored in roughly the same places as the old fat tables were. Getdataback will parse both versions, and recover based on the 'best version' for each file. It is an old tool, and a bit slow, but rather thorough. Beats having to revert to debug tools and assembly code to get the same result, and my assembly is a bit rusty.
a c 415 G Storage
September 6, 2009 10:23:11 PM

croc said:
there are two copies of the metadata, stored in roughly the same places as the old fat tables were. Getdataback will parse both versions, and recover based on the 'best version' for each file.
An excellent tool from the sounds of it...
!