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External Hard drive problem with bad sectors, help w data recovery!!

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February 25, 2011 1:04:39 PM

Hello,
I have a WD external hard drive when I connect it to the computer it shows the drive , but when I try to access the data stored in it windows gives me this message " you can't use tthis drive because it is not formatted , do you want to format it now ?" so I can't run chkdsk on it , so I tried Active Uneraser for Dos and it can't scan the disk , i get an error message like this " error 128 can't read sector 1" , then I tried Spinrite , when it started the scan it gave an estimated scan time of over 400 hours , it didn't make any sense!! then I tried Active file recovery , it scaned 1 GB in 5 hours , the hard drive is 250GB and I got so many errors saying " bad sector #xxxxx unreadable"
can anyone help me ?? is there anyway I can fix the bad sectors on this drive??? please help , this drive has my family's pictures of a period of 5 years , and I didn't back any of these picture anywhere else.
a b G Storage
February 25, 2011 3:52:00 PM

The NTFS filesystem is corrupted, that's why Windows is trying to format it before it can use it. there is an option: Linux distros do not require any special formatting to access a drive. I would download a bootable CD image with Ubuntu on it and then run it from CD (boot with CD-rom as first boot device). you can skip the installation, as you can run Ubuntu from the CD to "try it out" (not that is limited or anything, it has full functionality like that; it just allows one to run it without installing it on the HDD). After bootin up in Ubuntu, you'll notice the interface is very user-friendly, like Windows. You can connect your external drive to your system and try to access your files from there, saving them on a different media.
When all that is done, if you feel like you still want to use that external HDD, you could reboot in Windows and download/install Killdisk. The free version allow you to "kill" the HDD, restoring it to a factory-clean state. you can even specify if you want the disk to be initialized after erasing it. Then, you can just use Disk Manager in Windows to re-format it.
If the HDD more than a few years old, it is probably approaching the end of life. Just go ahead and replace it (you can use the same enclosure if you are a bit handy with a screwdriver).
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May 1, 2011 8:29:43 AM

HOUSE70 thanks for your suggestion , I tried it and what happened is Ubuntu recognized the drive but I wasn't able to access any of the files at all? I didn't see any icon for the external hard drive, however in the disk utility option I was able to see the hard disk's information??? any suggestions.
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a b G Storage
May 1, 2011 1:35:46 PM

The best stratedgy to recover data from a drive with bad sectors is to attempt to take a sector by sector image copy of the failing drive onto a good working drive. For this you need an application that can image a drive but skip over the bad sectors. One of the best for this is r-studio.com

When the imaging process completes you can then use data recovery tools on the image to save your data.

I use a similar technique when I work on client drives in my remote data recovery service. And from my experience you can usually achieve a greater than 99% recovery rate using this technique.
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