So, I knocked my 3TB 3.5" external USB hard drive onto the ground from a height of 48cm. It was plugged into my pc but (I think) inactive or possibly even in "sleep" mode (thankfully because this will mean the heads should have been parked). It is a true-crypt formatted drive and I tested it quickly this morning (risky I know, but I wanted to see if there was any damage). The drive spun up OK, with no obvious clicking or other wierd noises. I could mount the truecrypt drive fine, and I was able to see the root folders and even mount a second true crypt file inside the main drive, which got my hopes up because it means at least part of the platters are readable and functioning
However I tried opening a file and windows hung. So there is probably some damage. But presumably minor (at this point).
I didn't have time to explore further and I didn't want to make the drive worse, so I just switched everything off. I plan to buy a couple of new 3tb drives tomorrow and attemp to mirror the drive, and then (if this works) copy the mirrored data onto the third drive where I can play with it safely.
If this doesn't work I will consider whether to send it off to a data recovery expert ($500-$1500 apparently). I haven't run a back up for at least a year which is my own fault, and there's a lot of photos and videos and other data which would be annoying and/or sad to lose, so it may be worth it.
So my questions:
(1) - what is the best software to mirror the drive - considering its a truecrypt drive?
I've seen mention of dd_rescue, clonezilla, easeus, spinrite (which sounds potentially disk-destructive, so I'll avoid), hex-something and a few other options which I need to explore further. But would appreciate further guidance.
(2) Should I mount the truecrypt disk first and then try to mirror the unencrypted drive contents? Or should I try to mirror the unmounted truecrypt drive itself (without mounting anything) and then decrypt it afterwards?
I'd prefer the former approach, as at least I can then test whether it's working as the files get copied across, rather than having to wait a long time for potentially copying a drive full of junk. And it's more complicated to copy a truecrypt file (as you need to do so bit-for-bit, including all the encryption bobbins which I don't fully understand).
(3) is there a difference between "mirroring" and "imaging" the drive (and if so what, and which should I do first?)
NB I know the safest option would be to send to the data recovery specialist now (maybe the drive heads are bent or something bad will happen during my testing) but on balance I'm willing to take the risk.
PS Am annoyed with myself for not backing up recently and for knocking the drive on the ground.
1) Not sure. Never cloned a TrueCrypt drive before? I would assume you could do just a clone. And most of those should work. I use Marcirum Reflect for cloning and imaging.
2) I would probably mount them first
3) Mirrioring/Cloning is a 1:1 copy to another disk. AN Image is like an ISO. It take the drive, all its content and puts it in 1 File that you have to mount.
May want to download and install the Crystal Disk Info in my signature and plug in your USB drive and then run the program. This will at least tell you if maybe there are some bad sectors from it falling or not.
Thanks! I don't want to run any software on the HDD until I have tried backing it up. I bought a new 3tb drive today and have prepared a linux OS with DD Rescue GNU and truecrypt installed. I am now learning about the DD Rescue commands, and am nearly ready to give it a go.