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Trying to recover data from failing external USB hard drive


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#1 mystery987

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 11:30 PM

I am having trouble getting data off my external USB hard drive.  The drive is a Buffalo MiniStation 3.0.  My computer is a Samsung laptop running Windowns 7 Pro.

 

Two days ago, the external drive was working fine.  I then tried to copy photos from my Android cell phone [plugged into one USB port] to the external hard drive [plugged into the other USB port].  At some point it said that it was going to take 15 hours to copy the files.  Thinking something was wrong, I decided to cancel the process.  I couldn't stop the transfer.  I also couldn't eject the hard drive nor could I shut down the computer.  I had to power off the computer by holding down the power button.

 

When I restarted and re-inserted the external drive, it was extremely slow to access the drive and copying files from the external drive to the laptop was excruciatingly slow.  I figured the drive was starting to fail, so I started copying files over in batches.  I accidentally told the computer to copy a huge folder of video files from the external drive to the computer but when I realized how long it would take, I tried to cancel the transfer.  Again, I couldn't cancel or shut down the computer, so I powered off with the power button again.  When I next inserted the external drive, it took forever to recognize the drive, and, in Windows Explorer the external drive just says F: Local Disk rather than listing the model number like it used to.  When I click on the drive I have to wait a very long time until it finally gives me an error that says "F: is not accessible. The parameter is incorrect." I have tried to insert the USB drive over 10 times in different computers [and using different cables], but I get the same error every time.

 

I don't care about saving the drive, if that is even possible, but I really want to get copies of the files on that drive.  I am very reluctant to take the drive to a technician because I'm concerned about privacy and confidentiality issues.  Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 10:20 AM

With the Buffalo drive attached, is the drive listed as RAW in Disk Management? Is there enough free space on the Samsung to copy over all data from the Buffalo drive?



#3 mystery987

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 11:19 AM

Windows Explorer and Disk Management will no longer recognize the drive at all.  When I plug it into the USB port, the computer makes the sound like something new has been inserted into the computer.  The light on the drive comes on and it just spins noisily.  The Samsung does not have enough free space, but I have another desktop which does and I also have a new 2 TB external hard drive which is empty.

 

I just tried to open the external drive in Ubuntu and got the following error:

 

Error mounting /dev/sdc1 at /media/ubuntu/HD-PCTU3: Command-line `mount -t "ntfs" -o "uhelper=udisks2,nodev,nosuid,

uid=999,gid=999,dmask=0077,fmask=0177" "/dev/sdc1" "/media/ubuntu/HD-PCTU3"' exited with non-zero exit status 13: ntfs_attr_pread_i: ntfs_pread failed: Input/output error
Failed to read $AttrDef, unexpected length (-1 != 2560).
Failed to mount '/dev/sdc1': Input/output error
NTFS is either inconsistent, or there is a hardware fault, or it's a
SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows
then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very
important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate
it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g.
/dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the 'dmraid' documentation
for more details.
 
Chkdsk /f f: does not do anything.  It just sits there.


#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 12:11 PM

The drive spinning noisily is not good. I think your only option now would be to use ddrescue and hope you can recover any data from the image.

 

You need to download PartedMagic. The last free version is here. The latest version is a $5 download. You would create a Recovery folder on the 2TB drive using PartedMagic. Then create an image to the drive using this guide. The guide shows this command.

ddrescue -d -r3 /dev/sda test.img test.logfile

-d means direct disk access. This may not work using USB.

-r3 would try 3 passes on the drive to recover bad sectors so the scan will be a long one.

 

From that image file you would use PhotoRec or Testdisk to see if you have any hope of retrieving your data. If that fails your only option would be to send the drive to a Professional Data Recovery Service which in not cheap.

 

Instead of creating a image file, you could do a direct write from the bad drive to the good drive with this command.

# ddrescue -f -r3 /dev/sdx /dev/sdy

Where sdx is your Buffalo drive and sdy is your 2TB drive. You would get this info in the lsblk command shown in the guide. You need to make sure these are correct. You do not want to write to your internal drive or it will be overwritten. I would favor creating an image file as shown in the guide and then work with that.

 

 



#5 Frozwire

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 11:59 PM

Is this external drive new? As sometimes a bad USB bridge board in the enclosure could cause that errors too.


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#6 mystery987

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 08:27 AM

I am in the process of doing the ddrescue.  It has been running for nearly 48 hours and is still going.  I do not have high hopes for this because it is currently showing that there are only 5GB of good data and 994GB of errors in 44 errors.  Should I keep running ddrescue or stop it?

 

The drive is not new.  I have removed the USB bridge board and connected the drive via the additional SATA cable in the desktop.  Still have the same problem.



#7 JohnC_21

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 10:22 AM

It would depend on the following. If you want to recover the data using a professional data recovery service,very expensive, stop it as it's only putting stress on the drive. If you are not planning on using a service, keep it going, hoping you will be able to recover something from the image using PhotoRec. But, it does not look promising.

#8 mystery987

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:23 PM

I ran ddrescue until completion.  It took nearly 12 days!  After that was done, the image file [around 50GB] was found on the new 2 TB drive.  I then did this command

 

# dd if=test.img of=/dev/sdc1 [where sdc is the new 2 TB drive]

 

to try to restore the image to the 2 TB drive.  That took about 2 days.  When I checked the contents of the drive, there was nothing there.  The drive is now RAW and when I tried TestDisk Quick Search, the screen shows:

 

Disk /dev/sdc - 2000 GB / 1863 GiB - CHS 243201 255 63

Partition       Start     End    Size in sectors

 

I am wondering if:

- It was wrong to put the image file on the same drive that I wanted to restore the image file onto

- It was wrong to specifiy partition 1 when writing the image file to the drive

- I did something else wrong

 

I am not a very technical person and this is my first time using Linux, so all I can do is follow instructions. :-)  Any further suggestions would be much appreciated!



#9 JohnC_21

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:38 PM

Specifing partition 1 was okay.  Putting the image back on the drive was not necessary. You could have run Testdisk or Photorec on the image itself. I think your problem is the drive has completely failed. The only solution is a professional recovery service.

 

For running testdisk for windows on the image file you would

 

Type: at a command prompt

 

testdisk_win.exe C:\<path to image>\test.img   (if the image is on C:)

 

For Partition type you would select none

 

For PhotoRec

 

photorec_win.exe C:\<path to image>\test.img

 

This would scan the full image and try to recover any file it can find.


Edited by JohnC_21, 22 August 2014 - 02:39 PM.


#10 mystery987

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:42 PM

I can't find the image file any more.  That whole drive seems to be be RAW and when I try use it on a Windows machine it says the drive needs to be formatted.



#11 JohnC_21

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:49 PM

You didn't create the image file on the bad Buffalo drive did you? According to the guide I linked to, you create a folder on the good drive and run ddrescue from there. When you ran ddrescue the image created was to be written to the good drive and placed in that folder.

 

The image file should still be on the good 2TB drive.



#12 mystery987

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:51 PM

I created the image file on the new 2 TB drive.  After running ddrescue, I could see the image file there.  But after I did the

 

# dd if=test.img of=/dev/sdc1

 

command, the new drive is RAW and seems completely blank.  Or maybe something is wrong with the partitioning...



#13 mystery987

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:54 PM

When I do the # lsblk command, it sees the new drive and says

 

sdc     1.8T       BUP Slim BL

     --- sdc1      1.8T  

 

But when I check in File Manager, that drive doesn't show up.



#14 JohnC_21

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 03:03 PM

You still have the test.img file? I can't understand why that would be gone. Was the test.img file on the 2 TB drive when you wrote it back to the 2TB drive? For what you did you should have used

 

# ddrescue -f -r3 /dev/sdx /dev/sdy   where sdx was the buffalo drive and sdy was the 2TB drive.

 

If you wrote the test.img file on the 2TB back onto itself then that is why the test.img is gone. I am not sure how that was even possible. Writing back onto the image itself probably caused the image to be damaged beyond repair.

 

You will not see it in File Manager. Your only hope now is to use Photorec on the drive and see if it can recover any files.



#15 mystery987

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 03:12 PM

I do not have the test.img file.  I used the command specified below

 

# ddrescue -f -r3 /dev/sdx /dev/sdy

 

where sdx was the buffalo drive and sdy was the 2TB drive and that placed the .img file on the 2TB drive.  I then did

 

# dd if=test.img of=/dev/sdc1

 

where sdc1 was a partition on the 2 TB drive.

 

If the image is damaged, can't I just start the process over?

 

Also, have I now ruined the new 2TB drive or can I fix it [reformat, perhaps]?






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