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Hard drive failure

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July 3, 2011 6:27:12 PM

I have a 1 tb internal drive, which began to make continuous clicking sounds yesterday. At first I wasn't sure which of my drives was making the sound, and since a virus scan was running at the time I thought it might be related to that. I had to leave then and returned a few hours later and noticed the clicking sound was still there. I ran Hard Disk Sentinel and found that my 1 tb drive which it had previously rated at 86% health was now rated at 45% health. It also made mention of a great number of bad sectors. At this point I began to attempt to back up all the contents of the drive. But the backup didn't go anywhere. I got a message that the file that was being copied could not be read. I clicked "cancel" but it would not cancel. The dialogue window just hung there, and the drive was seemingly stuck. So I tried to reboot but could not get back into my system. Windows 7 would hang on the "Starting..." page. And I would just hear the drive clicking continuously. I tried booting up from my Acronis startup disc, and saw it did not recognize my 1tb drive as being there. The drive is still recognized by BIOS but seemingly not recognized and not accessible. And I cannot get my system to boot unless I unhook the drive.

Can anyone advise me on what my options are at this point to try to recover data from the drive, short of sending it to a data recovery service? Thank you.

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a b G Storage
July 3, 2011 7:28:17 PM

www.powerdatarecovery.com Try this program to recover your data and it is free.

It sounds like the drive is failing and get your data backed up as soon as possible
July 3, 2011 8:58:25 PM

Hi Almartin,

thanks for the link to the file recovery software.

the problem is the drive (which is my second internal drive, not the drive I boot from) is inaccessible, so I have no way to use the software on it. My computer will not boot with the drive hooked up. And the drive is not visible if I boot from acronis emergency CD and look at available on line drives.

If I put my computer into hibernate, and then shut down, connect the drive to the SATA cable, and reboot, my computer will boot then, by restoring the hibernation session. but all attempts to access the drive result in a freezing up of the system. I cannot view the contents of the drive. Just freezing, and the continual clicking sound.

If I boot my computer from a hibernated state with the drive connected and try to run the power data recovery program, the program will not actually start on my computer. I think because it tries to access all drives when starting and so freezes when trying to access the failed drive. I just hear the failed drive clicking.
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July 3, 2011 10:25:38 PM

something else i wanted to mention.. when I pick this drive up I can actually feel magnetic force. I know there are magnets in HDDs but I don't remember ever having this experience with a drive before. but after disconnecting it from the cable I can actually feel a magnet pulling it in one direction away from my hand when lifting it. Though once disconnected this seems to stop. Is this something that can happen, though I haven't experienced it before, or could it be related to the drive failure somehow?
July 4, 2011 12:07:02 AM

What you are feeling is the gyroscopic effect of the spinning disk platters. As they spin down the effect goes away. It's the reason it's easy to stay balanced on a bicycle when you are moving but much harder when you are stopped. The rotation of the tires creates a force that resists falling over. Thats what you feel when you try to rotate the drive while it is spinning.
July 4, 2011 10:28:22 PM

Thought I would update the thread, to share what has happened so far, and what has worked for me.

I read that sometimes inaccessible drives will begin working again after being frozen, so I put my drive in the freezer overnight in a ziplock bag. Today I got it out and took some ice packs with me, and hooked it up to the computer, with the ice packs around it, hoping to keep it cold as long as possible.

I did gain access to the drive this way and began copying files. After about two hours things were still moving along fine, though slowly, this being a 1tb drive... but I began to worry because I noticed the ice packs had melted. So I went to get new ice and then moved the drive to try to place it between the two new ice packs. This turns out to have been a big mistake, because for whatever reason at that point the copy progress bar went red. I was still able to access the directory for some reason, but could not load or move data on the disk.

Disconnecting the drive I noticed quite a bit of moisture on the visible surfaces of the drive. I am just hoping it is not damaged, as I have returned it to the freezer again and am hoping I will have another chance to copy more data tonight.

Has anyone used this freezer method before, and if so, have you had success doing multiple freezings and copyings?

Because of the size of the drive I know it is going to take probably 6 hours or so to get all of the data copied. So I am just keeping my fingers crossed right now.
July 5, 2011 1:22:40 PM

I'd avoid attempting the freezer method unless you don't care about the data. The freezer trick can cause condensation to form on the drives platters, making your data unrecoverable. If the data is important, send it to a data recovery lab. The more you tinker with it the bigger risk you're taking of making the data unrecoverable even by the best recovery service. I'd recommend OnTrack, Gillware or Drivesavers. Gillware will be the most affordable of those choices and will do just as good of work using the same quality equipment and clean room.

http://gillware.com
http://drivesavers.com
http://ontrack.com
July 5, 2011 8:08:10 PM

Just to let everyone know, I was able to successfully transfer all the data from my drive by using the freezer method. I was concerned about the condensation damaging the drive but it had no apparent detrimental effect. I froze the drive, used it till it heated up and stopped working, and then refroze, and reused it, until finally I had all the data off my drive.

For anyone who wants to know how I did it: I put the drive in a ziplock, and I kept it encased in icepacks during the data recovery process. This allowed me to keep the drive running several hours at a time rather than just 20 minutes or less, since as soon as the drive got warm enough, it would inevitably slow down to a grinding halt.

I had to repeat the process multiple times, because I had to move a full 1 TB of data off the drive, which required many hours. On a smaller drive, this probably could have all been done in one go.

Since I don't want to risk this again, I think I am going to buy a 3 TB drive now and keep all of my data from my other two drives backed up on it.

From what I've read this freezer method only allows access in the case of certain types of drive failures. Not all dead drives will magically perk up after frozen. But I hope this info helps someone who finds himself in a similar situation and can't afford to use a data recovery company.
July 6, 2011 2:22:39 PM

Good to hear it worked. When gambling, sometimes you get a 21 and sometimes you bust. Nice blackjack ;) 
!