Extract data from HDD with bad sectors (SMART results)

Hi guys,

I've looked everywhere for a solution to my problem for the past 2 weeks or so, and I guess I finally may have an answer, but I guess I wanted some opinions before I tried it.

I have an external Buffalo 1.5TB HD-HXU3 which about 2 weeks essentially decided to randomly die. I got random errors saying the drive wasn't initialized, then it wouldn't even get detected sometimes, or other times it would say it had to be formatted. And all along it said the drive was either RAW or unallocated (this was on 2 separate Windows 7 machines and also a Vista one).

I thought it might be a problem with the enclosure, so popped it open, but the drive in a brand new one, and at least now, the drive is consistently showing up in the system, but the data is still inaccessible.

(Just wanted to add that there have been no harddrive dying noises, just its usual stuff).

Today I found a thread recommending a bootable Ubuntu disk so I tried that. It was able to recognized, and apparently the disk even has SMART capability because Ubuntu is showing me diagnostics for it.

Here is where my question comes in. The error shows up in "ID5 - Reallocated Sector Count". Values are:

Normalized: 1
Worst: 1
Threshhold: 36
Value: 4095 sectors

(That 4095 does not look good....)

Anyways, more research yields suggestions like Spinrite, Testdata and others. I had already tried Testdata and it got stuck somewhere in the analysis (I think that's what it was doing), so I assume it hit one fo the bad sectors and crapped out. Spinrite has no demo, so I'm reluctant to to pay $90 upfront for something that might not work (though I'll glady pay it if it can get the data for me).

I know bad means data loss, but on a 1.5TB drive, I'm hopeful that its still just a small percentage of the overall data on it. I guess my question is, how would you guys recommend I extract the data off it?

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More about extract data sectors smart results
  1. Clone your drive sector-by-sector using a tool that knows how to work around bad sectors (eg ddrescue), and then use data recovery software on the clone.


    Ddrescue can perform multipass cloning. It clones the easy sectors on the first pass, and attempts the more difficult ones on subsequent passes. It can also clone your drive in reverse, thereby disabling lookahead caching. It keeps a log, allowing it to resume after an interruption.

    The following thread discusses various freeware and commercial cloning tools:

    Avoid tools such as SpinRite and HDD Regenerator. The data recovery profession regards them as drive killers, especially in your situation.

    See this similar thread:
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