Recover Data from a WD400BB 40GB Hard Drive

August 13, 2009 at 18:09:39
Specs: DOS 6.20/Windows 3.1 & Windows XP Home SP3, Pentium 4, 2.80GHz, 504MB Ram
I have an unusual problem, that I am trying to help my mother-in-law with. She has a really old Western Digital HDD that she, according to her, crashed. She had it replaced several years ago and the technician told her that the data (pictures/videos etc.) was retrievable, but since she was only paying him to put in a new drive this old one has been sitting in a box ever since. She brought it out and asked me if I could retrieve the files for her. I should first let you know that she no longer uses the old computer that it came out of, but she does still have it. I told her I would try to do it for her while she is on vacation.

So, here's the thing. I figured that I could pull out her old computer and slave this bad drive to it and try to get the information that way. So, in the attic I go. Found this old ComputDyne Computer, turned it on to get some information before slaving drive to it. To my surprise it wasn't anything that I really ever had to use. It booted to DOS, showing DOS 6.20 operating system and running Windows 3.1. Well, since I'm not well versed in DOS I figured that I would put it back in the attic and see if I couldn't slave it to my computer successfully? I have a newer pc, running Windows XP Home SP3. I am very familiar with my pc, as I have installed drives and memory etc. So, here is my actual question.

Can I slave a WD400BB that, at one time, was running as the master in a DOS 6.2/Windows 3.1 system to my Windows XP Home SP3 system and attempt a data recovery? If so, what would be recovery program should I use? This won't damage my system at all will it? Also, would it be best to slave it to my master hdd or slave it to my dvd drive or some other way? I'm not even sure that the drive will spin when connected, but I wanted to get prepared in case it does.

See More: Recover Data from a WD400BB 40GB Hard Drive

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August 14, 2009 at 00:16:50
Yes you can slave and XP should be able to read the drive if it is recognised in BIOS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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August 15, 2009 at 20:31:09
Is there a specific program that I will need to use to recover the files? I have never done a recovery before so I'm not sure what to expect. If the drive is recognized in the BIOS will it be as simple as just searching the drive and copying the files to a good location?

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August 15, 2009 at 21:03:09
If it booted to dos and showed a win3 os as well, I bet all the data is still there. Slave it and and copy all the pics and videos over to a directory on your good hard drive.

There are lots of free recovery
You may want to install the program on your hd as installing it on the 40 gig may overwrite a $ file making it impossible to recover.

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August 15, 2009 at 21:49:47
Well I haven't yet connected it. I will be slaving it to my master hard drive which runs XP SP3. So I'm confused as to your comment about it booting to DOS/Win 3. It shouldn't boot at all, if it is set up as a slave, right? It will be booting using my master, won't it? Then I'm guessing that if the drive isn't completely toasted that I should just be able to see it in my computer as drive E? I was wondering if there will be any issues with using my XP to get the data from this old FAT16 drive?

Also, would I use a program that is XP compatible to recover data from the old drive or a program that would have been compatible with the old drive when it was working?

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August 15, 2009 at 22:30:27
All poster 3 was saying about was, that if it booted as you stated, then the chances are that you will be able to recover the files without the need for recovery software.
If you put it in as a slave drive it won't boot.
The bios should be able to detect that drive without any problem.
Once connected I would run checkdisk on it before trying to recover the files as there may be some corruption of files.
Xp can read FAT16 files fine, no problem there.
Just search for her pictures and whatever else she needs of it, I don't expect you will find any videos on that computer, seeing it's only Win 3.1.

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August 26, 2009 at 04:13:41
Actually what I was referring to when I said that it booted to DOS w/Win 3.1 was her old computer. It actually works but is so out of date that she has a newer one. Her old computer, the one running DOS w/Win 3.1 is the same computer that this bad hard drive came out of. I guess I should have been more clear and stated that I assume that this bad drive, used to, run on DOS w/Win 3.1. I assume that because when this drive went bad, she had it replaced and that is the one that I pulled from the attic and it booted to DOS. I figured that when it was replaced they just used the same operating system that was on the one that went bad.

Anyway, I want to thank you all for your responses. I feel a little more at ease, that knowing this shouldn't be a hugh ordeal. Will keep fingers crossed and let you know how it turns out.

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August 30, 2009 at 14:41:13
Okay, job done well. Installed drive as slave. No issues, was very easy. Everything showed up and I was able to retreive the data I wanted.

Now, I have another question.

I would like to keep this drive slaved in my pc for extra storage. It has an operating system on it, but I don't want it. What do I need to do to wipe this drive clean? Should I just reformat it to an NTFS drive using xp's computer management? Not sure that will work. I thought I read something that said that won't remove system files or something like that. Any suggestions?


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August 30, 2009 at 16:53:47
After you retrieve the wanted files you should be able to format the drive and use it for storage. Might be best to delete the existing partition/s and create one partition and then format it using NTFS.

After that is done you can easily re-assign your drive letters. You may want to do that because they will most likely change. The second hard drive will be assigned D:.

All drive letters except for the boot/OS partition can be re-assigned. You first move a drive up to an unused letter then you can move the original drive/s back where they were.

Do that prior to writing anything to them.

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September 5, 2009 at 23:35:41
OK it turned out that that drive was beyond usable. That's ok because I was able to retrieve the data. New question? I went out and bought a 1TB external hard drive. I would like to use it to do backups of my other two existing internal hard drive. I have drive c: my boot drive and drive e: which is one partion that I just store songs, videos, etc. on.

My question is...I would like to use half of the new external hard drive (drive M) for backups only and the other half (drive N) as additional storage of video,pic,music files.

I formatted it as NTFS and set up two partitions as drive M: and N:. I am not sure that I have them set up properly to do what I want to do.

This is how my drives look in computer management:

Presario (C:)Partition Basic NTFS Healthy
Presario_RP (D:)Partition Basic FAT32 Healthy
File Storage (E:) PartitionBasic NTFS Healthy
Storage (M:) Partition Basic NTFS Healthy
My Backups (N:)Partition Basic NTFS Healthy

M & N are the two partitions that I set up on my external hard drive and those are the ones that are in question.

Thank you.

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September 6, 2009 at 07:31:15
If you use half the external for file storage then where will you backup that data?

I recommend copying your music, pictures, etc. to optical media like DVDR or CDR. IMO that type of media is the most dependable and can be easily and cheaply be duplicated. Use the external for imaging your internal drive and for additional file storage. Backup to DVDR. Disks are cheap when bought on sale.

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September 6, 2009 at 08:20:05
Read this about Imaging software

Also, backup software

UK MP's are thieving scumbags.
EU members are worse.

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September 6, 2009 at 22:44:07
OtheHill, So are you saying that my external hard drive should be one partition? Am I able to have additional file storage and an image of my internal drives all stored on one partition?

I actually bought the external to use for backups because of the amount of pictures, music, movies and other files that were already on my internal drives. Backing up using DVDR's would be very time consuming and take 18 + disks. Plus using DVDR's as a storage solution doesn't really work for me because most of those files are accessed quit often.

Imaging an internal drive (boot drive) copies everything, right? OS, all other programs that have been installed and data files too?

If I were to image my internal c: drive to my external drive, would that make the external bootable?

Thank you all for you time and patience with me.

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September 7, 2009 at 07:29:00
If you intend to use the external for backups then don't store any primary data files on it.

You should always maintain at least TWO copies of any data you wish to keep.

As far as partitioning the external drive goes, that is just a matter of personal preference. When using NTFS file system it doesn't impact the amount of space used. You are not backing up the files on the external because they will be the backup.

No need for multiple partitions. Just be sure to use folders and even subfolders to organize your files. If you image a partition of your internal drive simply create a folder for the files and send them there. Imaging software will automatically name them differently.

IMO imaging to optical media works best. Your external drive will most likely NOT be bootable and while possible to access folders on the USB from you imaging program it is easier to just burn the image directly to DVDR media.

I recommend using the external for backups of files that don't need to be imaged. Which is pretty much everything in your My Documents folder.

I use a program called Beyond Compare to sync my My Documents folder to an exact copy of it on an external drive. The program will only copy new or changed files so it is quite fast.

Check out Beyond Compare below.

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