Failing drive, which approach for data retrieval?

Hello, My problem 250G Sata II disk doesn't click when spinning, and isn't noticeably slow, but won't boot XP and goes into its installation screen.

Also booting off a Ubuntu CD shows the SMART status as “Disk Failure Imminent”. The details give Reallocated Sector Count as 1024 Sectors. I can access a very limited amount of the disk but unfortunately not any of the data I'm after, mainly family photos.

Feel free to tell me off about backing up...

I'm completely new to all this but ideas gathered so far are:
1)Buy a usb/sata adaptor and try hooking up to the laptop to read it.

2)Use the second 500G drive in the machine as primary, installing XP on it, then put the problem drive back in as secondary and try to read it.

3)Try to fix the disk using Microsoft recovery console (not sure which command - FIXBOOT, FIXMBR, CHKDSK?)

4)Try the check disk and repair option on the standard Ubuntu CD.

5)Ubuntu Rescue-Remix on boot CD; the tool ddrescue does repeated low level reads and can build up a disk image on the second disk. Then extract the desired files from the image, or possibly extract the whole image to a new drive(?)

Do 1 or 2 have a chance of seeing more of the disk than the standard Ubuntu CD?

Am I right to be nervous of 3 & 4, as they write to disk and have more potential to damage the disk further? Alternatively will trying to fix just the boot area pose no risk to the rest of the disk?

So 5 looks tempting. Is it likely to have more success with its clever reading method? Is it low risk as it is read only?

Or any other ideas? Thanks in advance,
5 answers Last reply
More about failing drive approach data retrieval
  1. Hi,

    I would stop fuddling with it right away and save any data that's on it.

    then get a new hard drive and try clone it (todo backup rescue disk works great usually)
    if you don't want to reinstall and transfer data.
  2. Regular backups are really easy....
  3. Thanks dextermat, I've had a quick look at that so far, I wasn't aware of that. It looks simillar in function to Ubuntu rescue-remix (for what I want to do), and possibly easier to use.
  4. adam_46, your option (5) is the safest. If at all possible, avoid working on the source drive.

    CHKDSK will often exacerbate any file system damage that is the result of bad sectors. However, it should be safe to run it in read-only mode.

    FIXBOOT and FIXMBR are useless in the current situation. In fact I have seen several cases where these apparently innocuous utilities have trashed file systems.

    Options (1) and (2) would be OK if the drive is still usable, and if you could pick and choose your most important data. There are utilities that can copy corrupted files, ie those with bad sectors. This would be useful if you had a partially damaged video file or photo that could tolerate an occasional bad block.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
  5. Thanks fzabkar. So I'm rejecting 3 & 4 since they write to the disk.

    As for 1 & 2, well the drive is probably not so usable as I can only see a small part of it using the Ubuntu boot CD, and none of that is the files I want to recover. As you say these will not see more of the drive.

    So (5) seems best then, or possibly a free recovery tool like Todo as mentioned by dextermat.

    Thinking aloud, the Ubuntu rescue-remix looks pretty complex but the actual command line work required seems pretty small. This page is informative:

    The Todo tool seems easier to use, but I found it a bit hard to find the right instructions on their site.

    I'll decide between these unless there are other suggestions.
Ask a new question

Read More

Hard Drives Storage