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Can't copy off of external hard drive - bad sectors? Bad filesystem?


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#1 Carbot

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 01:59 AM

Hi there.
 
I am having a pretty scary hard drive problem. I have an external hard drive with basically all of my things on it, all my photos, documents, etc. Yes, I know it is stupid to have everything in one place. These files were also on an internal hard drive but that one suffered irreversible damage.
Lesson learned, have files in at least three places!
Anyway, I cannot seem to rescue the data off of this hard drive. Or at least, not reliably. When I attempt to copy a folder to another hard drive (internal or external) it will copy a little then freeze. If I hit cancel, it won't cancel for 10 to 15 minutes. When it finally cancels, I can see that some files copied, and some didn't. It's always the same files. And I'm talking about even tiny folders. It doesn't have to be gigs of photos, it can be a 500kilobyte folder with 10 text documents on it, and 5 will copy and 5 won't.
 
I can open the hard drive in Windows or OSX and open all of the folders and sub folders and I see all of the files there. I can't remember if I could see thumbnails on images. But when I try to open them, it's a crapshoot which ones I can open and which ones I can't.
 
Various info that might help:
I tried running the utility from right click > properties > tools > error checking on the hard drive, but it seemed to freeze. But I think I have since read that that only works on drives with Windows installed? Maybe that isn't true.
I have tried to copy the files on multiple Windows 7 machines and an OSX Macbook.
I have tried multiple USB ports and multiple USB cables.
The files were added to the drive from a Win7 machine.
The drive is a WD My Book Essential model WDBACW0030HBK-00.
It looks like it is hardware encrypted, so I'm not sure removing it from the enclosure would help.
Some files were added to the drive years ago, some were added only months ago.
I never had any problems with it until the last time I added files. It was quite a large amount, probably 60+gigs. The drive seemed to disappear from Windows which froze copying, then it would appear again and copying would resume. Maybe this created a bad sector or messed up the filesystem? (I am sadly not an expert here!)
 
I downloaded the WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic application from the WD website, but I have not run it yet. Partly because it recommends making backups before using the tool, as there is a risk something could go wrong. But I can't make backups obviously. And partly because I read that the longer the drive is plugged in to a computer, the more potential for losing files.
 
Is this bad sectors? Bad filesystem? Physical damage?
Should I run the WD program? I have heard about Clonezilla. I have also heard about people using Linux boot discs and copying files through that. Is that just for healthy hard drives, or can Linux get past bad sectors that Windows and OSX can't?
 
I am scared to plug it in and run anything for fear of shortening its lifespan, so I would like to know the best first step.
 
Thanks for any help you can give me. Sorry if any of this is unclear or not enough information, just let me know and I will add more.

Edited by Carbot, 10 November 2014 - 02:05 AM.


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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 09:30 AM

Hello, and Welcome

 

Anytime you access a drive that may be failing, it can shorten it's life. If this data is very important to you then you can use a professional data recovery service. This is not cheap and can cost over $1000.

 

Download GsmartControl. Run it and look under the attributes tab.  Don't do any tests yet.Are any of the rows red? If so, which ones?

 

http://gsmartcontrol.sourceforge.net/home/index.php/Screenshots

 

I don't know if has changed but I read where OSX can read NTFS but writing is not officially supported by Apple.

 

Linux can open and transfer files where Windows fails. Download Puppy 5.2.8 here.  Burn the iso file in Windows 7 by right clicking and selecting Burn Image. Boot the Puppy Disk.

 

In the lower right hand of the Puppy Desktop you will see your internal drives. Your System drive would probably be labeled sda1 or sda2. Click on the drive. A green dot will appear on the drive icon and the Puppy File Manager will open. Browse to a folder you want to have the data recovered to. Attach the WD drive. A USB icon will appear next to your CD/DVD icon. Click once on it and another File Manager will open. Select your files and folders on the WD drive by left clicking with the Control key. You can also left click and drag a box around the files/folders. Drag the highlighted files/folders to the recovery folder in the File Manager of your internal drive. A small dialog will open asking if you want to copy or move. Select Move. You may want to try this with only one or two small files first. Reboot the computer and open them in Windows to see if they copied correctly and are not corrupted.

 

Here is a guide on the use of Puppy. Do not do the disk check as shown in the guide.



#3 Carbot

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 04:03 PM

Do you recommend Gsmartcontrol over the official WD diagnostic? I have heard of similar programs like HD Tune but Gsmartcontrol is a new one to me.



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 04:11 PM

I only recommended GsmartControl because I am not familiar with WD diagnostics and you said WD recommended backing up your data on the drive. Using GsmartControl to look at your Smart attributes would put less stress on the drive than doing a full test with WD.



#5 Carbot

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:41 PM

That makes sense. I guess I will try that first before I make a Linux disc.



#6 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:45 PM

Okay, sounds like a plan. Hopefully Gsmartcontrol will show the disk as okay. It also could be a file system problem.



#7 Carbot

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 12:39 AM

Well, that did not go very well. "Cannot retrieve SMART data. Device open failed, or device did not return an IDENTIFY DEVICE structure." That is the message I got from Gsmartcontrol.

 

It worked on another external drive and the internal drive. This is pretty depressing.


Edited by Carbot, 11 November 2014 - 12:42 AM.


#8 Kilroy

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 07:06 AM

I'd recommend pulling the drive from the enclosure and installing in a machine or using a USB to drive connection type, probably SATA, and connect the drive that way.  Connecting the drive internally will give you more options, but a USB adapter would remove the external drive controller from the equation.



#9 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 08:16 AM

If this is the drive you are talking about, then removing them from the enclosure as Kilroy suggested, which is a good idea, can be a problem if you are not familiar with it.

 

If you do not feel comfortable doing the steps shown in the following links, depending on your drive model, have somebody else do it for you.

 

http://carltonbale.com/western-digital-my-book-opening-the-case-removing-the-drive/comment-page-6/

 

http://www.ransackery.com/western-digital-mybook-open-case-recover-data.htm



#10 Carbot

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 01:12 PM

I feel fine doing that, I am much more mechanically inclined than I am with software, and have assembled and disassembled computers many times. The only problem is I'm pretty sure my drive is hardware encrypted. Is this not an obstacle?

 

The cover of this manual mentions the encryption: http://wdc.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/search/1/a_id/5729#

 

From what I have read on other forums after Googling this model, the hardware encryption means that taking it out of the enclosure would be pointless. Supposedly the electronics inside the case, external to the drive itself, encrypt and decrypt the data on the drive. Maybe the people who said this have the wrong information?


Edited by Carbot, 11 November 2014 - 01:13 PM.


#11 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 01:36 PM

If the drive is self encrypting then yes, you would not be able to access the data from the drive. You don't even need to provide a password and the drive still will encrypt the data. If the Bridge card goes, then you cannot access the data. But, I think it would be work a try if you do not plan on giving it to a professional data recovery service.

 

I try and stay away from WD drives that have the self encrypting boards including the passports that solder the micro USB connector directly to the proprietary PCB of the disk drive. I don't know how many times I have read of people having the Mico USB break.  Did you add a password to the drive?

 

From this it seems the drive has optional encryption. If that was enabled then you are out of luck. It was mentioned in the link you could swap the drive to an identical enclosure but I can't confirm that.


Edited by JohnC_21, 11 November 2014 - 01:36 PM.


#12 Carbot

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 01:53 PM

No, I did not add a password. I am not sure if the encryption was enabled or not. I doubt I would have changed it from the default.

 

What is the expert consensus on something like Clonezilla at this point? I have never used it before and I'm not sure I understand what it does. I am just scared to do anything with the drive for fear of losing the data.



#13 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 02:40 PM

You can use clonezilla but if the hard drive is not detected and for your problem is probably is not appropriate. For your problem you should use a linux utility called dd-rescue but doing this can put stress on the drive. It would create a sector by sector copy of your hard drive. The only problem with this is you would need a drive with at least the capacity of the WD drive which I believe is 3TB. I would try Puppy linux and see if it can mount the drive.

 

If you are scared of losing data then you should send it to a Professional Recovery Service. DriveSavers has been mentioned here as being a good service.

 

 



#14 Frozwire

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 12:55 AM

Well, that did not go very well. "Cannot retrieve SMART data. Device open failed, or device did not return an IDENTIFY DEVICE structure." That is the message I got from Gsmartcontrol.

 

It worked on another external drive and the internal drive. This is pretty depressing.

 

I feel your frustrations. As the SMART utility is already unable to identify the device structure it is possible that your drive have already suffered an internal hardware failure. And one thing about your external hard drive model is that it has a built-in hardware encryption which prevents you from removing your drive out of its original USB enclosure since your drive would be unreadable without the original USB bridge board.

 

If the data on that are somewhat important for you and irreplaceable the as what JohnC_21 has suggested it would be best to consult and send your drive to a professional drive recovery service. We've had some good results with WeRecoverData so far in recovering data from failed external hard drives. Again as you've mentioned in your above post that it is stupid to have everything in one place so that is why having multiple backups is always been suggested. As a typical recovery would cost you even  more than a good back up procedure.


"Encryption...is a powerful defensive weapon for free people. It offers a technical guarantee of privacy, regardless of who is running the government... It's hard to think of a more powerful, less dangerous tool for liberty...” - Esther Dyson


#15 Carbot

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 03:28 AM

I sent emails to both WeRecoverData and DriverSavers to hopefully receive rough estimates from them. I may send more emails out to additional companies.

 

John, I had a question about what you said regarding Puppy Linux: you say it may be able to mount the drive. Isn't the fact that Windows or OSX can see the folders and files indication that it is mounting in those operating systems? Or maybe I do not have a full understanding of what hard drive mounting means (very likely!).

 

If the quotes from the data recovery companies are more than I can afford, I may try Linux or the WD software. But I suppose that may make the problem worse and therefore more expensive.






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