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Best way to deal with a physically damaged NTFS formatted hard drive?

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#1 ta105050


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Posted 11 March 2018 - 02:51 PM

I have a NTFS formatted hard drive that I believe is physically damaged. It is a seagate barracuda 3tb, the ones that are notorious for failing. It is a data drive so there is no OS on it. When it first starting failing, it would crash my computer (Windows 7, completely frozen but no BSOD).

The first thing I did:
I booted from Ubuntu live and it would not mount. I forgot the exact message but I ran testdisk on it and may have erased some hidden partition or something. I did a quick analyze and it found both of my partitions and two unused partitions. I wrote the both my partitions to the drive and it no longer shows the unused (unallocated) partitions. I don't know if this is relevant or not.


I attempted to use ddrescue to clone the disk to an img file. ddrescue cloned about ~600MB of about 1TB before it froze (and presumably crashed). I resumed using the log file, and it would immediately freeze.

I went back to testdisk and was able to list the contents of both partitions. I tried copying all files at once and not surprisingly testdisk would freeze/hang (and presumably crashed). I then tried copying single files/folders one at a time and it seemed to work. I copied a relatively large folder before I went to sleep and when I woke up testdisk crashed sometime during the copy and the HDD was unmounted.

Some things I've noticed:

1. Detection of the HDD is a hit and miss. Sometimes linux will see the drive, sometimes it won't. Sometimes testdisk can list files from it, sometimes testdisk cannot (immediate crash upon pressing list).
2. Copying files is a hit and miss as well. Same reasoning as above.
3. Windows 8.1 (laptop via USB) no longer detects the hard drive at all (connecting via sata->usb cable. yes, the HDD is powered).
4. Keeping the HDD plugged in when booting into Windows 7 (desktop, directly via sata) will cause Windows 7 to not boot at all. It hangs on the startup screen.

My questions:
It seems that this is a physical hardware issue. If this is the case, is it possible to pull the data out of the hard drive by myself without visiting a professional? The data is not extremely important and I should be able to get the important stuff out one by one via testdisk but obviously doing it automatically/in bulk would be preferable.
I've been doing some reading (https://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk.pdf) and one method seems to be using ddrutility to create a mapfile (16.5 in PDF) and then using ddrescue to copy based on that mapfile. Is this a viable approach? Any suggestions on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by hamluis, 12 March 2018 - 07:12 AM.
Moved from Internal Hardware to Disk Management - Hamluis.

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#2 MadmanRB



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Posted 11 March 2018 - 03:41 PM

No usually you will have to go to a pro to retireve data from a hard drive, doesnt matter the OS or what format it is in if the disk is dead its dead.

This is why a backup drive is crucial, rule number 1 about any computer is to back up back up back up.

Hardware can fail, it happens.


I mean you could try the freezer technique (put the hard drive in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer) but this is not a guarantee fix, its a hail Mary play.

Edited by MadmanRB, 11 March 2018 - 03:42 PM.

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#3 Guest_Joe C_*

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 05:02 PM

Feel the top of the drive while it is running. If it gets really hot (you might get burned) Then the freezer trick usually works, If it's possible, you'll get better success if you can leave the drive inside the freezer and connect to it with extra long cables. If the drive does not get very hot then the freezer trick probably will not work

#4 MDD1963


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Posted 13 March 2018 - 03:58 AM

When you first suspect a drive is/might be failing, testing it is not the first step, backing up critical data or/ cloning it should be....


Things that can be redownloaded are not critical, merely time/bandwidth saving...


Photos and critical financial files are important. Back them up on two drives, and in the cloud, encrypted if necessary.


It's photos most people stress the most over. Google photos, one drive, drop box, Box, P-Cloud, Asus Web storage...so many options to store stuff safely for free...


If there is critical data on it, and it might be worth $300 to retrieve it, stop using the drive immediately, and look up/Google https://www.300dollardatarecovery.com/

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#5 RolandJS


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Posted 14 March 2018 - 10:23 AM

"When you first suspect a drive is/might be failing, testing it is not the first step, backing up critical data or/ cloning it should be...."

MDD.  +1 absolutely!  Of course, it's best to have been making routine backups before troubles happen.

"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.


Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)

#6 im4bsd


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Posted 04 April 2018 - 04:03 PM

Don't know if this will work as you've already tried the linux option 

if you boot a windows rescue disk up and start a command prompt type in the following


Edit: Click on >File>Open

I think from memory this brings up some sort of explorer window that can be navigated if your lucky and can see the drive might be able to copy files back. 

I haven't needed to ever use this but I remember seeing this somewhere and locked it away in the brainbox but I didn't bookmark it so I don't want credit if it works but would like to know if it does, thanks


Edit 5pm my time: Looks like I left out a step but found this not the exact one I recall but this is close to what I meant



Edited by im4bsd, 05 April 2018 - 03:36 PM.

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