Need help recovering files from a faulty drive

Last week, my computer froze up, and when I tried to reboot I got the BIOS telling me that my hard drive was faulty and needed to be replaced. I bought a new Seagate 1TB drive (A massive upgrade, thankfully), reinstalled Windows on it, and have been trying to retrieve the data from the old drive, without any success so far.

I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium, and the faulty hardware in question is a 320GB Western Digital WD3200AAJS desktop drive.

This is what I've tried so far:

1. My friend lent me an Apricorn SATAwire adapter to try. My computer recognizes the adapter but not the drive it's attached to. When I plug it in, the drive shows up under "Safely Remove Hardware" as a USB Mass Storage Device, but it doesn't appear at all in the My Computer window or in Disk Management. It does say the adapter is for notebook hard drives--could this be the problem?

2. I tried booting the computer using my new drive, with the faulty one connected internally. I get the American Megatrends BIOS screen informing me that the faulty drive is bad, and should be backed up and replaced. I can continue past this screen, but the computer then appears to get stuck on the "Starting Windows" screen.

3. This was probably a terrible idea, but I was desperate--I booted the computer without the faulty drive connected, and then, once it had fully started up, connected it internally with a SATA cable. In this case, the "Recovery" partition of the drive appeared in My Computer, and could be opened, but when I tried to open any of the files in it the computer froze. Disconnecting the drive caused everything to unfreeze immediately and function normally.

I'd love to know if there's anything else I could try, or change the way I'm doing one of the above. Any advice would be much appreciated and I'll submit any other specs that might be useful. Thanks!
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More about need recovering files faulty drive
  1. Sounds like the controller on the drive fail or its not spinning up. You maybe out of luck. That's why backups are so critical. Don't feel bad, your not the first.
  2. Usually when a computer's BIOS tells you the drive needs replacing, it has determined this by examining the SMART error logs. The SMART errors are typically due to an increase in read errors, possibly due to a bad or weak head(s) and often there is accompanying disk damage.

    If the heads are just weak it may be possible to use a utility to image the failing hard drive to a new hard drive. Then a common data recovery program can be used to salvage the data from the image. Attempting to run data recovery software on the failing will most likely fail due to the unreadable sectors.

    Here is a blog on the subject of DIY or do-it-yourself data recovery that may help you ...
  3. Clone your drive, sector by sector, using a utility that knows how to work around bad patches in the media.

    A good freeware tool is ddrescue:

    It can clone your drive in multiple passes by recovering the easy sectors on the first pass, and trying for the more difficult ones on subsequent passes.

    You can then use your preferred data recovery software on the clone.
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