Need to recover data from a dead hard drive

October 5, 2011 at 20:19:29
Specs: Windows Vista, Intel Centrino/2 GB
I say "dead" because it's not truly dead. It's a mix between a mechanical failure and a logical failure. Windows detects the hard drive, but it only detects it as "Local Disk E". Unable to access it. Computer management see's the recovery partition as well as the main section, but it shows no file system. If you connect it to the laptop, it attempts to start Vista, half way through it gives a UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME BSoD. I tried to reinstall Vista in hopes that it would move the existing installation to Windows.old folder and I could get to the files directly (hoping it was just a logical failure). Getting to the copying windows files part took much longer than normal and eventually resulted in a "Cannot copy files" error.

So, what exactly do I do at this point? I feel that repairing it is my last option before sending it to a data recovery shop. What would I suspect is causing the failure? When I try accessing the hard drive, I notice a pattern of noises (Long seeking noise, two sets of two short seeking noises then back to the long pattern).

If it helps it came out of a Sony VAIO PCG-5K1L Laptop, and the hard drive is a Hitachi HTS542525K9SA00.

Thanks.


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#1
October 6, 2011 at 04:01:31
Have you tried to either slave it on a nother machine, or use it like an external hard drive with something like a Magic Bridge 2, or hard drive dock?

You can then search through the drive and copy all your data, if neccessary you can use recovery software to recover data from the drive too.


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#2
October 6, 2011 at 06:56:56
Agreed, usually putting it into another computer (desktop) as a second hard drive will usually work if there is anything left to the drive at all, unless you overwrote the files when you attempted to reinstall Windows. An external hard drive case often works, but not as reliably as internally appears to do. Recovery software will work if the index to the files were destroyed during the attempted reinstall but only if the actual files are not overwritten and the hard drive otherwise works. Professional data recovery can work if the drive motor or other mechanical parts of the drive are bad and the files remain in some fashion though rarely 100% and is very expensive. If the data is that important you should have local and off site back up as well as a RAID mirror array to protect it. Even just a daily automatic back up to an external hard drive could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in recovery costs. Laptops on the 'road' should be backed up to portable hard drives and also to 'home office' servers via VPN or at least to DVDr's.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#3
October 6, 2011 at 07:32:43
"Windows detects the hard drive, but it only detects it as "Local Disk E". Unable to access it. Computer management see's the recovery partition as well as the main section, but it shows no file system. If you connect it to the laptop, it attempts to start Vista, half way through it gives a UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME BSoD"

From my OP, you should be able to figure this out.

First, per "Windows detects the hard drive, but only detects it as Local Disk E. Unable to access it. Computer management..." I connected via a hard drive dock (USB). That doesn't work.

Per "If you connect it to the laptop, it attempts to start Vista, half way through it gives a UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME BSoD", that shows it's a relatively new laptop. It also shows that it's file system may very well be intact (that it can still load Vista somewhat before failing). If you checked what laptop I had (from the model number I gave), it's probably not older than 3 years. So, it's a SATA hard drive. No slave options.

In short, connecting to another PC? Nope. Booting from original PC? Nope. Reinstalling Vista? Nope.

RAID would be a lovely thing. Fact is, it's a laptop. This whole thing "Laptops on the 'road' should be backed up to portable hard drives and also to 'home office' servers via VPN or at least to DVDr's" is just wonderful, but what home user is going to be using VPNS? Or even need to do this. If I forgot to mention, this is not my lappy. It's a friend's (from college) that really would like his data back. Obviously, he's like any other user who doesn't backup data regularly (and what good is talking about "you should have backed up data" when it's too late now?).

I'm looking to physically repair this drive. I've seen you can replace the circuit board. I mean what would I suspect is causing this drive to become inaccessible?

However, I appreciate the responses :)


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Related Solutions

#4
October 6, 2011 at 08:14:34
"If you connect it to the laptop, it attempts to start Vista, half way through it gives a UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME BSoD"

That's as intended, and it's NORMAL for that to happen
Microsoft decided that for Win 2000 and up that they don't want you to be able to load an existing (standard) Windows installtion from a removable drive - an external hard drive, or flash drive, or memory card, etc., etc. .

There is NO WAY of you getting around that, that I know of.
....

Test your hard drive with hard drive manufacturer's diagnostics.

E.g.
Seagate's SeaTools will test (almost) any brand of hard drive.
http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.j...

Do the long test.

The Dos bootable versions of SeaTools can test the hard drive when Windows will not load properly, or even when the drive has no data on it.


NOTE that the Dos bootable versions of SeaTools cannot detect or test a hard drive when it's in an external drive enclosure - but the Windows versions of SeaTools CAN do that.

It the drive itself passes the test, any data problems on the drive can be fixed one way or another
.........

"...eventually resulted in a "Cannot copy files" error."

That can be caused by....

- the hard drive is in the process of failing.


Other causes....

You should get NO ERRORS AT ALL regarding finding files on the Windows disk !

If you DO get errors about that....

- you're having problems with the optical drive reading the Windows disk.

If it's an original disk, make sure the disk is clean and free of major scratches.

If it's a copy of an original disk, the same things apply, and a disk other than a CD-R or a DVD-R may NOT read properly in a drve it was not made in - make a CD-R or DVD-R copy of the disk on another computer that can read the disk 100% if that applies.

The laser lens may be "dirty". Eject the optical drive's tray, and with no disk on it, clean off the obvious laser lens with a tissue or a soft cloth.

- you're experiencing small amounts of ram errors.

See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

For a laptop, or netbook, you must remove both its main battery and AC adapter before you do that.

For a brand name computer, see the Owner's or User's manual if you need to - how to remove or replace the ram is usually in that - it may already be in your installed programs. If you can't get into Windows, it may be on a disk that came with the computer, or you can go online and look at it or download it - it's in the downloads for your specific model.


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#5
October 6, 2011 at 08:31:45
From my OP, you should be able to figure this out.

No not neccessarily! The worst thing you can do when trying to help someone is make assumptions. its the duty of the OP to provide as much information and facts for us to help.

i have had MANY broken hard drives and i have been able to recover data from about 80% of them. pluging it in as an external hard drive is propbably my favourite method, usually always works.

But as Fingers correctly stated, that external usb is not as reliable as internal.

Anyways repairing a har drive is not easy, you will need to make sure that you get the exact same circuit board, do a google search and look for instructions.


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#6
October 6, 2011 at 10:01:33
@Tubes Maybe I wrote it in such a way you thought I meant that I connected it to a different computer.

Let me reword it...

"If I put the hard drive back into the laptop (where it originated from), it will attempt to start Vista. During it's GUI phase, it will output a UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME BSoD."

I am well aware that you cannot just take the hard drive out of one system (say, a Windows XP machine), and connect it as a primary to a completely different machine. It simply would not work.

I actually have not done a diagnostic test on the HDD, but I don't see how that will help me. I cannot reinstall Vista. I cannot access the drive. My main focus is recovering those files. I could care less if the drive is actually faulty. Of course, I'm probably going to test it, just for fun.

@Learn The replies I received seemed more generic or "dumbed down" than they should have been. In a way, many people here, too, are making assumptions. Rather than saying, "Now I just want to make sure I understand this correctly. You tried connecting your hard drive to another PC and tried to boot to that hardrive?". Instead, I got "Oh, that won't work. You can't connect it to another PC. Microsoft made sure no one could do this blah blah blah". Just saying.

I figured from the information given, you could determine that I find the only method is physical repair. I wanted to know if anyone had any experience with repairing hard drives. It wasn't really focused to determine if the hard drive had a logical or mechanical failure. It's quite obvious (to me).

-.- I did a google search. That's why I'm here asking you guys. I'd like to get specific instructions rather than a generalized tutorial. Yes, I found that out previously that I'd need (if it comes to replacing the board) the exact same board with same firmware, stepping, etc. Again, I am here to get specific (or less generalized) instructions from someone who has done it personally. Like actually talk "in the now" with he or she. Much better than any written tutorial.


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#7
October 6, 2011 at 15:16:14
Okay, so I mis-read . Sorry about that.
I was assuming you had the drive in an external drive enclosure.

"I actually have not done a diagnostic test on the HDD, but I don't see how that will help me."

Doing that confirms whether the drive is failing or not.

If it is NOT failing, then data problems can be fixed
E.g. The MFT may be damaged - data recovery programs may make your files appear again, but you need to connect the drive to a different computer that has Vista or Windows 7 running on it in order to do that.
There is a way of doing the equivalent of a Repair installation of Vista, by using a Vista DVD, without you losing your personal files, but it's very time consuming.

If it IS failing, it's a waste of your time to try to fix the operating system.

"When I try accessing the hard drive, I notice a pattern of noises (Long seeking noise, two sets of two short seeking noises then back to the long pattern)."

That MAY indicate the drive is failing, but some drives make noises you may not have noticed until you have a problem and are looking for symptoms.

Some drives malfunction intermittantly for a long time before they become unusable.


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#8
October 7, 2011 at 13:55:08
I still have yet to test the drive, but I have been able to recover the files. I used Parted Magic. I believe the tool was Photorec. I still suspect the drive is failing because certain parts of the disk took FOREVER to scan. I also would like to say that hearing a pattern of noises should lead you to believe it is failing. Why else would a drive make the same noises over and over while trying to be read? Obviously that points to it failing to read a specific area of the disk repeatedly.

Now I have almost 600,000 files to sort through. Windows 7 search function hasn't proven useful. I'm looking for pictures and .doc/.docx files. I could care less about any of the other files. Honestly, it would be nice to be able to delete everything except for the files I need. Any methods that would make this easy?


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#9
October 7, 2011 at 15:41:17
"Now I have almost 600,000 files to sort through. Windows 7 search function hasn't proven useful. I'm looking for pictures and .doc/.docx files."

The Search function in Computer or Windows Explorer in Vista does not work the same way as it did in XP and previous - the same thing probably applies to Windows 7, since Windows 7 is essentially what Vista should have been in the first place - Vista with the things that annoyed people about Vista removed or made more user friendly.

- The Search function DOES NOT search subfolders by default.

ONE way of making it search in subfolders is....

Start up Computer or Windows Explorer

Click on Organize in the top bar,
then the Search tab,
then select Include subfolders when typing in Search box.
Click on OK at the bottom of the Window

- Another way of making it search in subfolders (for all users) is.....

Click on the Windows 7 (Start) icon bottom left of the main desktop screen.
RIGHT click on the hourglass icon at the end of the Start Search box,
select Properties,
Start Menu tab,
Customize button,
scroll down to Search files and select Search entire index

NOTE that when the drive is on your own computer, you can probably alternatively select Search this user's files - that's what was selected when I enabled searching subfolders using the first method.

Click on OK at the bottom of the window.

- You don't have the option of filtering the results BEFORE you Search, but you do AFTER you have searched for something.

Search for anything in Computer or Windows Explorer..
When the search has finished, scroll to the bottom of the search results, click on Advanced Search - you can search for specific types of files there.
Change the name of what you're searching for if you need to, while you're there.
............

By default, ALL of your personal files in Vista and probably Windows 7 are saved in the subfolders of C:\Users\(your user name)\....., unless you saved them in a non-default location.
Of course, when you're looking at your drive on another computer, the drive letter will be different, not C.
.....

If you get an Access Denied message when you try to access the files or folders on your drive when it's connected to another computer, you need to Take Ownership of your files on that computer.

Search for something such as: Take Ownership Windows 7

E.g.
Take Ownership of a File or Folder
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/...

"Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2"
.............

"....I have almost 600,000 files to sort through..."

By default, when you have a brand name system, ALL of your files are saved on the partition Windows was installed on, which is usually C (on your own computer).
OR - when you have installed Windows from scratch, by default, Setup selects the entire drive space for the (first) partition Windows will be installed on.

You DO NOT necessary need to install all software that did not come with Windows on the partition Windows was installed on, if you have some other partition to install it on.
In Vista and Windows 7, it has the built in ability to re-size the partition Windows was installed on to a smaller size in Disk Management - you can make another partition on the unallocated space freed up by doing that, and store some of your data on that.

In most cases if you DO NOT select the default Express or similar installation choice and select Custom or similar instead when you install a program yourself, or if you change the default installation location choice so it's installed on the drive letter of a different hard drive partition, the vast majority of the data for that program will be installed on the other partition, and only your personal files for that program will be installed on or stored on the partition Windows was installed on, in the case of Vista and Windows 7, in C:\Users\(your user name)\.......

If you DO have data on another partition, when you need to search for personal files, usually you only need to search on the partition Windows was installed on , unless you have the files in a non-default location that is not on that partition.




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#10
October 7, 2011 at 16:07:40
I'm not sure how Windows 7 doesn't search subfolders by default. This computer I'm using happens to be a fresh installation. It has been enabled by default, as I have not enabled it myself.

I'm still not getting all the files I'm looking for. I search for *.doc or *.docx and I get some of the files but not all. It was reported that I had recovered >3,000 doc files (it probably meant both doc and docx).


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#11
October 7, 2011 at 16:35:17
"I'm still not getting all the files I'm looking for. It was reported that I had recovered >3,000 doc files (it probably meant both doc and docx)."

If your hard drive is failing you will probably NOT be able to recover all the files you want to recover.

"I tried to reinstall Vista ..."

You probably over-wrote some of the locations of the files when you did that - in that case those files probably can't be recovered .

If you're not seeing the file extensions, Windows (2000 and up) does NOT show file extensions for known file types by default.

Control Panel - on the right select display large icons or small icons (NOT the default Category) - Folder Options - View tab, de-select Hide extensions for known file types (click on the dot in the circle before the line to remove it), click on OK at the bottom of the Window .


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#12
October 7, 2011 at 17:19:41
"I still have yet to test the drive, but I have been able to recover the files. I used Parted Magic."

*face palm*

Photorec said I recovered at least 3,000 doc files. This claim is backed up by a program Effective File Search. However, I've been having trouble with this program as it locates the files, yet it refuses to copy them to a new folder.


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#13
October 7, 2011 at 18:20:42
I found a program called FileSeek. It's enabled me to search through my files and copy the ones I need out of there.

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