HD Data Recovery

Last week I began to get "delayed write failure" errors on the boot drive of my aging Sony Vaio desktop PC (running Win XP MCE).

The drive could read data without problem, but writing files became problematic. Eventually the drive would not boot due to a corruption in the boot record (or mft?) preventing the OS from loading up. But because existing data could be read without problem prior to that boot attempt, I am confident that most of the data on the drive should be intact.

This 250gb IDE drive has a small partition for OS recovery, and the remaining space is one large partition where the OS was installed along with apps and so on.

I have some of the critical data backed up on data DVD's, but there are some additional files that I very much need to recover (if at all possible).

I plugged the drive into a newer machine (built this spring) running XP Pro. The new machine has 2 sata drives installed, and I plugged the old drive into a parallel IDE cable after moving the drive jumper to 'cable select'.

After booting the new computer, this old drive is found, however its contents cannot be read and the OS is prompting me to reformat the drive (which I do not want to do until I can recover the necessary data).

I know nothing about HD data recovery and any associated applications/software.

I am seeking advice regarding:

(1) Why the drive contents cannot be read in the new computer and what (if anything) I may be able to do to rectify that situation and recover the data.

(2) Whether I may have a better chance of recovery by purchasing a new HD for the old computer, installing an OS, and then plugging the old HD in as a slave in order to recover data.

(3) Whether there is any appropriate software that I may be able to use to recover data on the old drive. Shareware/Freeware would be preferred.

If/when I can recover the old data, should I huck the old HD in the bin, or open it up and destroy the platters (for security/privacy purposes) and then huck it in the bin, or is there a better option (ie recycling or appropriate 'green' disposal)?
4 answers Last reply
More about data recovery
  1. Disable write caching in Device Manager.
    Run manufacturer hard disk diagnostics.
    Try data recovery software, like Spinrite or Partition recovery depending on whether there is a hardware problem or not.
    Fill the drive with zeroes with dban or Active @KillDisk prior to disposing of it.
  2. You could boot a BartPE disk and recover on the old computer with a flash drive.
  3. Well my guess is that this old drive is kaput with mechanical failure -- its nearing 6 years old, so recovery on the old computer will require the installation of a new boot drive (imo).

    Hence, I don't believe recovering the old computer using a flash drive would be doable until I obtain a new drive.

    Meanwhile, I still need data on the old drive.

    I still do not understand why it fails to be readable when plugged into a different computer running a similar 32bit OS. This would be the easiest way to copy the data - directly to a working drive on the (new) computer where I could make an appropriate backup to writable media.

    As far as recovery software:

    Spinright does not appear suitable for data recovery in this case because it attempts to recover data by writing it to a usable portion of the same drive. However since my old drive seems to be suffering from a chronic inability to write properly, Spinright would not be helpful in recovery (though it appears to have excellent diagnostic functionality). Further, its not shareware/freeware.

    Software that could copy the contents of the old drive onto an existing drive in the (new) computer would be fantastic - but since the (new) computer doesnt not recognize the contents of the old drive and wants to reformat, I do not know if such drive copying would be possible.
  4. http://www.pcinspector.de/Sites/file_recovery/info.htm?language=1

    The program linked above appears to offer a potential solution. Its freeware and if it can read the contents of the old drive (even tho the OS apparently cannot - for whatever reason) then it should be able to copy those files over to a working drive on the (new) computer.

    Has anyone tried this program -or- have another to recommend?

    Further, does anyone have any idea why the old drive cannot be read in the (new) computer?
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