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Windows will not detect my hard drives after powersupply Failure.

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July 28, 2010 1:09:04 AM

a few years ago I had a power supply go bad and since then the drives that were installed will not detect in windows. I have scoured the internet looking for answers to no avail. The thing is I am a writer and had many works of mine lost when this occurred and as time passed I have been rather upset that I have not been able to recover them. If anyone has any ideas how to recover data from these drives I would be most appreciative. I will provide any details needed if someone can provide assistance.
a b ) Power supply
a c 357 G Storage
July 28, 2010 6:47:32 PM

If I understand correctly, you do have a computer working for you now, but you have some older drives with valuable data files on them you can't access. The easiest way to work on the older drives will be to install each one in turn in the working computer and try a few tools on them to diagnose. For now, let's work on identifying what you have so we can advise how to set up and connect and make some preparations. When you can feed us back some info we can give you explicit instructions on how to test the drives and recover what you can.

First, though, we need to know what type of drives are the old ones, and what machine and Operating System you had them in. The two most common types are IDE (or PATA), and SATA. On the back edge of an IDE drive there is a power input connector on the right with four recessed pins in a line; to the left are a few pairs of pins for jumpers; to the left of that is a 2" wide connector with 40 pins arranged 2 rows of 20, but one pin is missing. On the back edge of a SATA unit there may not be any pin pairs for jumpers, there will be one wider connector (1½") with 15 fine pins for power input, and another half as wide with 7 pins for the data cable.

If you can tell us exactly what the label says on each HDD - manufacturer and model number - we'll be sure what drive you are dealing with.

What can you tell us about what Operating System (version of Windows??) was on the old machine these drives were in?

Briefly, the way to install each type is a little different, but not much. In each case you have to connect a power supply from wires that come from the PSU, and a data cable between the HDD and an appropriate mobo port. For IDE units you also have to set jumpers on the back edge pins to establish a Master or Slave identity, and that comes in conjunction with what is already installed in your working machine. (There is no such adjustment for SATA drives.) So for that purpose we also need to know what types of drives you have in the working machine, and what ports and cables they are attached to. Once those details are set and the drive fastened in mechanically, there MAY be a few things to set in the BIOS Setup screens, but it may all just work without that.

Now, in preparation for what to do once the connections are made, you will need to download some utility software. IF your old drives are by Seagate, go to their website and download their diagnostic package, Seatools for DOS. There are at least four version of this, so get the right one:
(a) Seatools for Windows runs as a Windows application, but it does slightly fewer things and must have Windows running if you want to use it. That's why I prefer the "for DOS" versions.
(b) Seatools for DOS (floppy disk) is a compressed .zip file of what needs to be put on a FLOPPY disk to use. If you do NOT have a floppy disk drive and diskettes, ignore this one.
(c) Seatools for DOS (Optical disk) is the most commonly used. It comes in two forms. One is an .iso file, which means it is an exact image of all the stuff that needs to be "burned" onto a CD-R disk to use. To do that job you need a CD burner drive and a CD-R blank disk, and some software that is able to "burn" an .iso image to the disk. Nero is one example of software with this ability, but other optical disk burning software does it, too. You have to put the blank disk in your drive, start the software, and tell it to burn onto it the .iso image you have downloaded.
(d) Seatools for DOS (optical disk) again - the other form is a .zip file which actually contains the .iso image file in compressed form so it is just smaller and faster to download. If you get this one, you must un-zip it to create the .iso image file, then process as above.

What all that does is allow you to make your own CD-R copy of the Seatools for DSO utility package used to diagnose HDD's in your machine.

IF your old HDD's are from Western Digital instead, go to their website and get their utility "WD Data Lifeguard". It comes in those several forms and is handled the same way. It just is custom suited to WD hard drive units.

IF your hard drives are from another manufacturer, either the Seatools or WD package can do some of their testing on other makers' drives anyway, but just not everything. If the real maker of your old HDD's has a similar diagnostic tool set available on their website, get that and prepare the required test disk.

In all these cases to use the diagnostics you must ensure that your BIOS is set to boot from your optical disk drive, put the test disk in it, and boot. The machine will boot from that CD-R and load a mini-DOS Operating System into your RAM, and you can use that to run all the tests from a menu system. This works even if you have no properly functioning HDD in your machine because it does NOT need Windows to load first.

So, gather the information I suggested, and gather and prepare a diagnostic tool disk in preparation. As a look ahead, when we get your disk(s) attached I'm going to recommend three stages:

1. We'll use a couple of Windows' built-in tools to examine each disk for a few very simple things that might be easy to fix right away.
2. We'll use the diagnostic test disks to see if there are actually any hardware faults in each drive.
3. If necessary, we can recommend some data recovery tools (they may NOT be free) you can download and buy that would allow you to copy files from the old HDD units to empty space on your good drive in the functioning machine. Of course, that will mean that the working machine's drive will have to have empty space to accommodate those files.

Let us know how this goes, and we'll help you through the next steps
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July 29, 2010 7:30:11 PM

I looked into TotalRecall and got an estimate of $795 flat rate. That's a little expensive for my needs right now so I will look into self remedy first before paying that much. Info on the main drive (this is where I believe most of the data i want is stored): Hitachi Deskstar HDT725040VLA360 400 GB Drive. Sata 3Gb/s.
MLC: BA2364
Production date is May-2007.
Drive present a constant steady click. Not a fast click or intermittent... steady. If connected during boot will not pass system memory check. if connected after bootit will not be detected by windows or linux drive utils. Attempted Hitachi drive analysis tools and they could not detect it either.
Drive had vista installed on it aty time of failure, still using vista and ubuntu now.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 415 G Storage
July 29, 2010 8:29:37 PM

Some people have reported success in extricating data from dead drives by putting the drive in the freezer for 24 hours and then connecting it and copying the data from it while the drive is still cold. If you want to try this then plan to get the most important data copied as quickly as possible because IF it works there's no guarantee it how long it will for and you may only get one shot at it.
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July 29, 2010 11:27:10 PM

Tried the freezer trick a few times. I don't believe its a short on the motor because the clicking continues the entire time it is connected and doesn't act as if it can't read any data.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 357 G Storage
July 30, 2010 2:54:28 PM

Hitachi unit does not sound good, so we'll skip the easy stuff. It can't work if the system cannot detect the hardware.

You could try GetDatBack NTFS at:

http://www.runtime.org/data-recovery-software.htm

Costs $80, but you can try for free to determine whether it really can get stuff BEFORE you pay. Basically, from their website you can run the software on your drive and it will do all the analysis it can. Then it will show you what it can get from your drive - directory structure, files, etc. - and even allow you to open some sample files to verify the contents are available. IF you think the software does all you need you pay them, and the downloaded software becomes a licensed installed version on your machine for future use. PLUS right then and there you begin copying all the recovered material from the faulty unit to another good drive - so you need space! before starting. On the other hand, if it cannot get enough to make the price worthwhile, you know what it can do. You just don't pay them and the software quits with NO changes to your HDD so some other technique can be employed later.

I'm not VERY confident this will work, because the symptom you cite could be any of several problems inside the HDD. BUT if the problem is simply a damaged first track or two so that no data can be read from the critical management files structures, there is a chance the rest of the surface is readable.
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July 30, 2010 8:13:46 PM

Been reading a little bit on the web about clicking drives. How would I check if the circuit board has gone bad? Also read about replacing the heads, which i understand would put the data at risk because the drive would need to be opened exposing it to dust and other airborne debris. I will look into the GetDatBack program too.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 357 G Storage
August 2, 2010 1:37:57 AM

A bad circuit board is an unlikely cause of a clicking drive. By far the most common cause is that the drive attempts to read and it gets errors. It re-reads a few times and if that does not solve the problem it starts over by swinging the heads back to the first track to position them securely (called indexing the heads), then moves the heads back to the target track to read again. The sound of the head arms tapping the mechanical stop as they swing to the first track makes a tick. With continued errors this keeps repeating and ticking. It IS possible that repeated errors and head indexing could result from a faulty disk controller board, but that is less likely than an real hardware problem with the heads or the disk itself.

The process of finding an an exact replacement for the disk controller board to replace it is very difficult. Given that such a step is unlikely to fix your problem, that seems a path not to follow.

Replacing heads is an incredibly BAD!! idea. I know, there was a post recently in which someone claimed to have done it. I don't even know if it was real or fake. But by FAR the result for those few who have tried is the hard drive is totally useless! The basic problem is dust, as you say. What is hard to grasp is that the dust that causes disaster is particles smaller than the diameter of a human hair. That is, dust so small you will not even see it to know it's there. Head replacement can be done in a high-quality clean room just like the places where the HDD was made in the first place. But if you think $750 to $1000 is too steep for data recovery, wait until you see the price for a clean room and expert technicians to disassemble your HDD and replace the heads!!

Do NOT try this at home!

If DIY data recovery software is insufficient for your problem, you really will have to decide whether to pay pros to recover it, or give up on lost data.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 415 G Storage
August 2, 2010 1:59:29 AM

Yep, Paperdoc is right - if you open your drive up then you can kiss your data goodbye.

I'm not sure this next bit is a good idea, but it crossed my mind and so I'll mention it: There's a very small chance that the parking lock is stuck and won't release the heads when the platter has spun up to speed. You might try rapping the drive against a hard surface without any power applied to it, then connecting the drive up and trying again. Don't hit the drive too hard, and give it a bit of a hit in each orientation.

You could also examine the circuit board closely for any sign of burnt or melted components. If you find something, then you could perhaps try replacing the circuit board, but it will probably be very difficult to find an exact match. Components change during production runs and it could be all to easy to end up with a board that's not compatible with the HDA (Head Disk Assembly).

Beyond that, I can't think of anything else you can do that's likely to be successful.
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