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Hard Disk Failure


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#1 Trakeen

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:03 PM

I've come across a lot of dead hard drives over the years, but this is something new to me.

My boss came in 2 days ago and windows had blue screened (either during a virus scan or after it had finished, not sure which) with the very vague message that windows was shut down to prevent damage to your computer...

I got a new HD and loaded Windows 7. Once the system was up and running, I shut down, reinstalled the original HD to attempt to recover data. Windows started up and wanted to check the HD for errors. YAY! All is not lost...

I got into windows and the drive wasn't listed. I checked disk manager and the drive wasn't listed. I rebooted and checked the BIOS. The drive was listed. So I'm trying to figure out where the break down is. I've never seen the BIOS report the drive and windows not detect it.

So far I've tried to use the drive both internally, and through a USB adapter.

I have almost a years worth of e-mail, pictures, and of course a spreadsheet with the latest billing for my customers. I believe in backing up, but due to slowness of the computer the owner had me shut down "unnecessary programs" from start up.

Besides a data recovery company are there any thoughts on what could be done? I'm currently looking for bootable HD recovery software.

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#2 Eyesee

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 12:17 AM

Plug the bad drive in as a secondary & see if you can read it that way.
In the beginning there was the command line.

#3 AustrAlien

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:33 AM

I have almost a years worth of e-mail, pictures, and of course a spreadsheet with the latest billing for my customers.
Besides a data recovery company are there any thoughts on what could be done? I'm currently looking for bootable HD recovery software.

If you suspect that the hard drive itself is failing and you have important data (or a Windows system) that you wish to save/recover, the first thing you should do is to clone the ailing hard drive (the source) to another known good hard drive (the destination): You will need an equivalent or preferably larger spare known good (or new) hard drive. Data recovery from a difficult situation (for example a failing hard drive or badly corrupted disk file system) is best done with both the source and destination hard drives attached directly to the motherboard of a desktop PC, rather than attached via USB connection: A USB connection is susceptible to data corruption and limits "readability".

You should not attempt to use the failing hard drive at all, and certainly not attempt to start the Windows system, nor to run chkdsk of any description (whoops ... it's a bit late now). Recovery of data should then take place from the cloned copy on the known good hard drive.

See the following guide for further information and cautions to observe:
DjLizard's data recovery guide

Please have a look through the very recent thread at the following link to see a successful result of cloning a failing hard drive using the recommended method:
Replacing hard drive
=======================

If you are unwilling (for whatever reason) to clone to a good hard drive before attempting data recovery, and are willing to risk the hard drive failing completely and losing any possibility of recovering your data, then perhaps you may wish to proceed with the following suggestions .... at your own risk, of course. The first suggestion is to try booting from a Linux CD or flashdrive to see whether or not you can see and access your files, and simply copy them to an internal hard drive, an external USB hard drive or flashdrive. This may not be possible: If that is the case, then the second suggestion is to attempt data recovery using TestDisk, again run from a bootable Linux CD or flashdrive. From your description of the situation, I suspect that you will need to use the second suggestion, namely TestDisk.

(Note: Instructions were written for a situation where the ailing hard drive is the one containing the operating system, where the computer is no longer bootable and the files need to be recovered. Hence the "ailing computer" and the "working computer" references.)

Suggestion 1: Use a LIVE Linux operating system run from a bootable CD or flashdrive to access and copy/retrieve files on the hard drive to a USB-connected flashdrive or external hard drive.

There are many options, but here are detailed instructions for one method ...

Download GETxPUD.exe to the desktop of your working computer
  • Run GETxPUD.exe
  • A new folder will appear on the desktop.
  • Open the GETxPUD folder and click on get&burn.bat
  • The program will download xpud_0.9.2.iso, and when finished will open BurnCDCC ready to burn the image.
    Please be patient: This could take awhile - download file size 63MB.
  • Click on Start and follow the prompts to burn the image to a CD.
You will use this CD to boot the ailing computer from.

Backup your important files to an external media using xPUD:
  • Connect your external hard drive or flashdrive.
  • Boot the ailing computer to the xPUD CD.
    A Welcome to xPUD screen will appear.
  • Click on File.
  • Expand the mnt icon on the left (click on the little arrow beside the icon).
    • sda1, sda2 etc. ...usually correspond to your HDD partitions
    • sdb1, sdc1 is likely to correspond to a USB flashdrive, external USB hard drive etc.
  • Copy your important files to an external hard drive or flashdrive.
    • Open your hard drive partition and navigate to the files/folders that you wish to copy.
    • Select multiple files/folders by holding down the <CTRL> key and selecting them all.
    • Use right-click > Copy
    • Navigate to your external media, and in the right-side window pane, use right-click > Paste.
To shut down the computer:
  • Home > Power off
Success? If the partition and your files are not visible from Linux, try Suggestion 2.

==============

Suggestion 2: Using TestDisk, run from a bootable Linux CD or flashdrive, find and retrieve your files to a USB-connected flashdrive or external hard drive.

There are many options, but here are detailed instructions for one method ...

Download GETxPUD.exe to the desktop of your working computer
  • Run GETxPUD.exe
  • A new folder will appear on the desktop.
  • Open the GETxPUD folder and click on get&burn.bat
  • The program will download xpud_0.9.2.iso, and when finished will open BurnCDCC ready to burn the image.
    Please be patient: This could take awhile - download file size 63MB.
  • Click on Start and follow the prompts to burn the image to a CD.
You will use this CD to boot the ailing computer from.
-----------

Preparation:
  • Still on your working computer, download and extract TestDisk to a USB flashdrive:
    • Download xPUDtestdisk.exe and save it to the USB device
    • Double click xPUDtestdisk.exe to extract the contents to your USB device
    • Remove the USB and insert it in the ailing computer.
  • Connect to the ailing computer, an external HDD large enough to accommodate your retrieved files.
---------

Using xPUD and TestDisk:

Step 1: Lets run TestDisk to check what we can see in the way of files in partitions:
  • Insert the flashdrive with TestDisk in the ailing computer.
  • Boot the ailing computer to the xPUD CD.
    • A Welcome to xPUD screen will appear.
  • Click on File.
  • Expand the mnt icon on the left (click on the little arrow beside the icon).
    • sda1, sda2 etc. ...usually correspond to your HDD partitions
    • sdb1, sdc1 is likely to correspond to your USB flashdrive with TestDisk on it, external USB hard drive etc.
      Note the designation of your external HDD that you intend to save files to: You will need to know this later.
  • Click on the folder that represents your USB flashdrive (sdb1 ?)
    You should see the TestDisk folder showing in the right-pane.
  • Click on Tool at the top and choose Open Terminal.
  • Type testdisk/testdisk_static and press the <ENTER> key.
    The TestDisk command window will open.
  • Choose [Create] and press <ENTER>
    TestDisk will now detect all local hard drives.
  • Use the arrow (up and down) keys to highlight the disk called /dev/sda if it represents your primary hard drive and press <ENTER>
    (If you are not sure then note everything you see and post it for my review.)
  • Select [Intel] and press <ENTER>
  • Select [Analyse], and press <ENTER>
  • Select [Quick Search] and press <ENTER>
  • Press Y.

    You will see your partitions listed.

    (If you do not see all your partitions listed, then press <ENTER> to go to [Deeper Search] and press <ENTER> again to begin the search for more partitions. Please be patient while the search completes: It will take some time.

This is the starting point from which you can investigate the content of each of the partitions listed.


Step 2: Let's look in your <PARTITION> (substitute your own partition name) partition ...
  • Use the Up/Down arrow keys to select the <PARTITION> partition.
  • Press P to list the contents of that partition.
  • Use the Up/Down arrow keys to select a folder to explore, from among the list of files and folders.
  • Press the right-arrow key to open that folder and see the contents listed.
    Use the left-arrow/right-arrow keys to move up and down respectively through the folder tree.
    Doing this, you should be able to navigate the contents of the partition and see all files in all folders.
Success?


Step 3: Now, let's retrieve your files from the <PARTITION> folder ...

At the root of your <PARTITION> partition, use the Up/Down arrow keys to select a file or folder to copy.
Note: If you select a folder, the entire contents will be copied!
I have chosen to start at the root of the partition, but if there is nothing there that you wish to copy, simply navigate to whatever file or folder that you wish to retrieve, and select (highlight) it.
[*]Press C to copy the item.
[*]Now choose a location to save the item.
  • By default, I think you will find that the flashdrive on which you have TestDisk will be selected. You need to navigate to the external HDD you wish to save your items.

    Navigation could be tricky: Try the following ...
  • Press the left-arrow key, and you will see a list of your hard drives.
    • (In my case, the flashdrive with TestDisk is sdc1, and my external HDD is sdd1.)
  • Use the Up/Down arrow keys to select the hard drive on which you wish to save your items.
    (If you wish to use a folder on that hard drive, use the right-arrow key to navigate into that partition.)
[*]When you are sure that you have the correct destination entered, type Y.
Be patient: If there is a lot of data to be copied, it may take some time.[*]With any luck you will see the message "Copy done!".
[/list]
Success?
--------------

If you wish to get out of TestDisk and close the Terminal ....
  • Press Q repeatedly until TestDisk closes.
  • Close the Terminal Window.

Edited by AustrAlien, 15 September 2011 - 06:42 AM.

AustrAlien
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#4 Trakeen

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 01:13 PM

Thanks for the detailed reply AustrAlien.

I had just recently cloned the HDD, but didn't put the image on our external HDD after reviving the system the first time for some reason...

I'll be looking at suggestion 2 when I get home tonight and I'll let you guys know the results.




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