External Hard drive "Bad Block

May 15, 2008 at 12:09:33
Specs: Vista Home basic, at least 1 gig
I've had this external drive (actually, it's and internal drive with an external casing, but I digress) for about three years now, and recently I've had some problems with it.

About a month ago, I had some problems writing, and copy files to/from the disk. Now this wasn't a consistent problem. It seemed to be "moody", like some newer files I couldn't even access, and some files copied to and from the disk perfectly, and in some cases, I coulnd't even make a new folder because it "could not read from the source file or disk." After exploring the dilemma, I cme to the conclusion that there must be some bad sectors on the disk. Once I found the "disk checker" in "properties", I thought, "Oh, good! Now all those bad files/sectors will be taken care of!" After an hour or two, my computer told me that there were indeed some bad files and sectors, and that those bad files/sectors are found in a folder called "found" on the disk.

Well, after performing this operation, my disk does not seem to register with my or any system whatsoever. In fact, it disallows me from accessing any file/folder associated with my drive. Even when I close and restart explorer.exe, explorer won't restart UNTIL I've turned my drive off, and immedately after that moment, my computer acts as though there was nothing wrong.

After looking at my event viewer, it appears as though my computer goes though a "bad block" error (error code #7)about every three seconds after I turn the drive on. And yes, I've tried to access it in safe mode.

What I'm asking for here are:
1. What exactly am I facing?
2. Can I fix my drive in it's current state?
3. If my drive cannot be fixed in its current state, can I at least get my information off of it?

thank you all so much for your help!

See More: External Hard drive "Bad Block

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May 15, 2008 at 14:08:18
If you can, connect the drive to your internal harddrive controllers. Remember to jumper the drive correctly for the configuration you end up with. There is no guarantee you will be able to access the drive but you are eliminating two possible trouble areas. The enclosure controller and the USB stuff. Don't attempt to setup that drive as a boot device.

You may need to take ownership of the files. I don't know how that is done in Vista.

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May 15, 2008 at 15:48:42
Here are some file recovery programs:

PC Inspector

The demo is limited
It will only recover'up to' four folders per run
But you can make multiple runs

Ontrack's 'Easy Recovery'

File Scavenger


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May 16, 2008 at 09:58:58
Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:

(thanks to Dan Penny for this link:)
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities

If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

As OtheHill has said, you eliminate two possible trouble areas if you connect it internally when you test it.

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Related Solutions

June 4, 2008 at 10:41:19
Okay, I tried all of this, and apparantly, when ANY program attempts to access my drive, it locks up, and the only way to get the program working again is to turn off my external drive.

I have not tried taking the drive out of the casing, because I do not think that this is a hardware problem. It's also a bit of a hassle to disassemble and reassemble, and what-not, so I'd like to use this as a last resort.

In terms of that latest news, the programs are capable of "seeing" the drive in question, but once I select it, it locks up.

Then something strange happened. I don't know shen specifically, but my computer asked me if I wanted to format my hard disk. I, of course, said no, but the fact that my computer is recognizing my drive as a new drive sort of scared me. I do , however, know that there is still data on that drive, and the question is how to access it.

So, once again, I am asking what to do in this situation: How do I access my drive without my computer freaking out?

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June 4, 2008 at 10:44:49
You were already given the best options.

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June 5, 2008 at 08:29:36
I agree with OtheHill.

Adding to that...

Test the hard drive with the manfacturer's diagnostics.
If you can't access the drive properly with that, you need to take the drive enclosure and it's electonic circuits out of the picture, and you'll have to take the drive out of it's case and install it in a computer and connect it ot set the bios setup so you don't boot from it, and then try the dignostics.
If you still can't access the drive with the diagnostics, the drive is toast.

If you can access the drive with the diagnostics, you run the longer test, and the hard drive itself passes without any bad sectors being found, whatever is wrong with the data on the drive can propbably be fixed, but in the worst cases you may have to wipe the data off of it and start over with fresh partitioning and formatting.

If your external drive is USB connected

If there were no bad sectors found by the diagnostics, the problem was probably caused by you not doing this at some time:

"Make sure you always click on the icon for Safely Remove Hardware in your taskbar when you have plugged in a USB connected data storage device and Stop accessing it BEFORE you remove the drive, IF the computer is running and Windows has loaded."

or by some event that happened that shut down the computer suddenly without properly shutting down Windows while the USB drive was being accessed.

If you have valuable data on the drive you can't replace and want to try fxing the problem instead....

If the drive is partitioned using FAT32, which isn'y likely...
FAT32 has two partition tables - the second one is a spare copy - in normal circumstances it's an exact clone of the first one. Some diagnostic programs, such as Norton Disk Doctor, can detect a corrupted partition table and try replacing the partition table being used (the primary one) by overwriting it with the spare copy, but if both are corrupted, that won't help.

On the other hand, something else may have been wrong.
Some diagnostic programs, including NDD, can fix some other problems too.

If the drive is using NTFS partitioning, which is usually the case if the drive is larger than 32gb, there are things you can try but it's a lot more complicated.

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June 9, 2008 at 13:58:14
Hooray! I got ZAR to work, and everything!! The problem is, I'm limited to four folders to extract at a time, and considering the fact that I was VERY meticulous in organizing my information, this may take me quite a while to complete. Additionally, my drive has been making strange noises that sound hardware related, so I don't think I have as much time as I thought I did. Outside of purchasing the full version of ZAR, does anybody know of any more... ecomomic means of getting ym information off of my drive faster?

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June 9, 2008 at 15:29:45
I don't, but you might buy yourself more time to extract data by blowing air directly at the drive - when a drive is failing the logic board frequently has one or more chips that overheat .

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June 11, 2008 at 07:40:47
Here's another question: would extracting my drive from the casing buy me more time as well? I think it may be the casing fans that are sounding weird, but I could be wrong.

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June 11, 2008 at 08:24:30
It was suggested way at the beginning of this thread that you remove the drive from the enclosure. For all you know the issue may be the enclosure, not the drive itself. I am not saying that is likely but by eliminating the enclosure as a possible issue you have a better shot at file recovery. If your enclosure has a fan (many don't) it may be the source of the noise.

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June 11, 2008 at 08:35:51
Yes, I know that it was suggested earlier, and by removing the casing, I remove another potential problem. Now, however, I'vefound a path out, but I may not have the time I thought I had to extract my information. I was wondering if it was likely that my drive was making strange noises relating to the casing, and not the drive itself. As stated earlier, I want to remove the drive from the casing as a last-resort thing. I think I'm going to buy the full version of ZAR, since I'm going to have to spend $100 on a new drive to store all my information, anyway. If anybody knows where I can find a similar program for free, please tell me, otherwise, thank you for all of your help!

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June 11, 2008 at 08:56:23
"since I'm going to have to spend $100 on a new drive to store all my information, anyway". This statement isn't factual because you don't even know if the drive is defective.

Also, I don't see the correlation between the new drive and purchasing the full version of ZAR.

You may not actually have a physical problem with the drive. There are other possible reasons for the symptoms. It is quite possible the drive is good and the problem is with the controller circuits in the enclosure.

How are you able to access the external drive at all with ZAR if the entire computer locks up when accessing that drive?

A live version of Linux may be able access and recover the files. If the file system is what is corrupted then there is a good chance Linux can help.

Knoppix is one I have used. Knoppix installs to and runs from one CD or DVD. Where are you storing the files you are recovering?

Finally, I will state one final time IMO you are foolish not to remove the drive from the enclosure. At the very least, the recovery process would be faster. At best possibly unnecessary.

BTW, you should maintain at least two copies of any data you wish to keep.

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