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Hard Drive Failure

My system was working fine, no sign of trouble.  This morning I turn it on and get a "Non-System Boot disk" error.  I switched hard drives and the new drive booted up no problem.  I also tried fdisk from a boot disk and I received a no hard drives found error.

Of course I would like to get the old drive working or at least see what I could salvage off of it.  When the old drive is connected, I do see a green light, so it appears that it is getting power, however, it doesn't seem to be doing anything.  I can't hear anything going on before I get the message.

I went into the BIOS and see that it doesn't seem to find the drive.

I don't understand what happened.  The hard drive is only 2 years old.  There were no symptoms leading up to this.

Does it sound like the drive is salvageable?  I know of some places that guarantee that they can get the data off, but they are expensive.  Is there anything I can try before taking that route?

My system is a dell desktop.  700mhz 20gb running windows2000 professional.

1 Solution
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Well, from the sounds of things, you have two hard drives.  Put the second drive in with the first one as a slave drive and see if you can read it.  If you can't it's almost certainly shot.  You can try some disk recovery tools, like those Norton (at least used to) made.  Otherwise, you have to go to a data recovery service, which, as you pointed out, is VERY expensive - that's why backups are important!
I've had troubles with my main drive too sometimes it just comes up with the 'non system disk' I've learnt to 'thump' it with a screwdriver handle when you are starting it up...that gets it working.........

when you start it up ....see if it 'chuckles' if it doesnt then you have an internal hardware prob wiht the hdd....try the 'thump' fix, and if you can get it 'chuckling' then you're in... :-)  it works for me.....
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Depending on the brand of drive, there may be some hard drive diagnostic tools of which you could use on the drive to see if there are any probs. (Western Digital) (IBM) (seagate) (Fujistu) (maxtor)

Some recovery software:
Take look at these.

File Rescue 2.5



Fast File Undelete


File Recover 2000


Lost and Found
Lost and Found recovers data from drives that have been formatted, lost partitions through accidental
deletion, etc. This applies to FAT or FAT32 partitions only. If the disk is still capable of spinning,
there is a chance of recovery.
Lost and Found only performs read operations on the affected hard disk. Many utilities attempt to repair
the hard disk and corrupt data in the process. Since Lost and Found only performs read operations, it
does not risk the integrity of the data on the disk.

File Restore
If you've deleted your data and you want to get it back, you need FileRestore.
FileRestore is a simple, easy-to-use tool for recovering files that have been lost or deleted from your
Windows system.
Designed for Windows XP, 2000, NT, Me, and 9x

Disk Commander
In virtually any situation where you need to recover lost data from a Windows system, Disk Commander
is the solution. Disk Commander performs a wide range of data recovery operations.

Drive Rescue
Supported file systems: FAT 12/16/32
Windows® 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000 or XP

Tool to check and undelete partition
Works with the following partitions:
- FAT12 FAT16 FAT32
- Linux
- Linux SWAP (version 1 and 2)
- NTFS (Windows NT)
- BeFS (BeOS)
- Netware
- RaiserFS



Emergency Undelete

(cut and pasted from: CrazyOne)  Thanks CrazyOne!

However in your case It really sounds like the drive is not going to survive.  If you can get the following software to run you are lucky.  But Because your drive is failing, you will have a heck of a time getting data off the drive.  You may experience lockups and slow access when the bad drive is in.  What is happening is it's not really locking up.  But that Windows is trying to access the data and can not do so, so it keeps trying and trying and so on and so forth.  With no luck.  (if you can get that far)  You never know.  Anyway I would be careful giving your hard drive a thump.  If it is indeed not spinning, SOMETIMES thumpping the drive will get it to spin.  Butttttttttttt if it indeed is already spinning, and you give it a thump, it is like bumping a record player.  It will cause the needle to skip and possibly scratch the record.  Causing damage to the drive.  So this option I suggest you highly refrain unless you know what you are doing.  Or you give up all hope and figure it is your last effort.

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WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Oh and if it is two years old, you may try to figure out the brand of the drive.  It may still be under warranty, (most drives have a three year warranty) and you may be able to have them replace the drive.  Of course the guarantee of data is not covered.  Just use the links of the Hard drive manufacturers that I mentioned in my last comment.  They will have Return to manufacturer instructions.  How to find out how to get an RMA number and where to ship it back etc.  Most of the companies have a policy that if you supply a valid credit card #, they will ship out a BRAND new drive of equivelent or newer model (sometimes bigger if no same size drives are present) in like 2 or 3 days.  And you then ship your bad drive to them.  They do not charge your card unless you have not returned the bad equipment.

problem wiht those hard drive diagnostic progs is they need the drive to be actually working to use em...........
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Actually no.  Not all of them.  I have returned Maxtor drives, Western Digital, Fujitsu....(i used to work at a computer store) Ibm, Seagate (we most if not all the manufacturer drives out there.)  Most of the software can see the drive as long as it is hooked up to the IDE chain.
It may not get anything recovered but it will give you an error code....which is what some manufacturers want before you can send it back.
mtgcpcAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all of you for your responses.  I just want to understand this correctly.  I know that the BIOS doesn't recognize the drive anymore and when I tried to connect it as a slave - the machine wouldn't boot up.  (Maybe I did it wrong?)  So will any of the software that's listed be able to see the drive if it is installed as the master?  
If the BIOS is not picking up the drive then all you need to do to verify that it is defective is try it in another machine or from the secondary controller.

- IMO you need to get a new drive. You will NOT be able to salvage info from this drive unless it is picking up in the BIOS of the system. As it is not, see about getting a replacement or talk to one if the data retrieval companies.
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
I second cockrane's statment of if the bios cannot detect the drive you will not be able to recover data.  If however you can get the bios to detect it and the drive is going bad you may be able to drag and drop data from one drive to the other.  I would suggest using another hard drive with an OS already installed and install your bad drive as slave.  And pull data that way...
It looks like disk is not connected to the computer ...
I had same problem that was solved by just disconnecting and reconnecting internal cables
I still say..........if it doesnt 'chuckle' when the puter starts..........then THUMP works for me
Well the first thing that I would do is to try changing the cabling for a new one as the cables are more liable to die than the hardrive is.

disconnect any other hard drives and connect this one up as the master and then go in to bios and try and get it to either auto detector configure it urself.

because it is also possable that for what ever reason your bios reset and just no longer is configured to detect that drive.

check that all the pins are in place also on the back of the drive as one could be broken or damaged.

The master slave Idea is a good one but there are many drives (have a couple myself) that complain for whatever reason when setup as a slave and are hard enough to configure when you know that the drive just because this does not work hardly proves anything.

If you have not already and none of the stuff above is a help try contacting your manufacturer to see if they can provide you with any usefull support ...relating to specific errors and things that can occur on drives of that type.

It is not really possable to perform the same sort of recovery that the specialists do as they will go into an air tight room rip off all the harddisc casing and sit it in a new drive to read all the information off the disc surface. The disc is likely undamaged it is likely the read needle or the motor that is gone...
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
I do not think it is an IDE cable error.  But to double check that.  Change which connector is installed on the drive.  There are 2 connectors apart from the connector to the motherboard.  Since by your questions and responses, we can assume that one drive definitely works.  If you follow that drive's IDE Cable, you can switch that known to be good connector to the drive in question, to make sure it is not a faulty cable.  Or you can try a new one as suggested (if you do not want to buy a new one or dont have a spare cable handy try switching the connectors around.)

Again also double check jumpers for correct master/slave position if the way the drives are setup are incorrect.
wlennonVP of Domestic & Int'l OperationsCommented:
If you choose a recovery software product, Wakeup mentions above GetDataBack from RunTime, $99.00 for that one that is for Fat 32 only, they also have one for NTFS for $50.00 more, either way you will save $500.00 to $700.00 , I have used both, and Very Good software recovery products, as I have both, one use will save you hundreds of dollars from what a PC shop would cost.  Their motto is, "If it spins, we can recover it".  Great choice from Wakeup's list.
mtgcpcAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all for your responses.  Here is the latest....

1) The only "life" I get from the drive (master or slave)  is a little green light on the back that flickers a few times when the computer is turned on and when I ctrl-alt-del.  

2) "Thumping" unfortunately didn't do the trick.

3)  The cable is ok.  I have tested the drive on 3 different ones.  

I guess I am going to have to save my pennies and get it to a recover place.  The quotes I have so far start at $595.00  and go up to $1900.00


WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
wow....I guess the data is that critical?
This is gonna be one expensive lesson - always always always keep a backup of any important data...

A virus could not have caused this problem. This looks like a mechanical/electronic failure that unfortunately just happens from time to time - and must be accepted.
One of the other experts may be able to give a more detailed, technical, explanation as to exactly what may have gone wrong.
I had a few problems with broken drives before and most of the times I managed to get them working again.The ultimate solution,before going to someone to recover your data is the following.Take a bath towel and put the hard drive inside.Rap the towel around the drive,in such a way that the drive,is all inside the towel.Then standing,drop the drive on the floor a few times (Both sides of the drive).Try again,if it works,quickly turn the pc off.Install a new drive,setup windows,and place the broken one as slave,so you can save your data.The broken one won't be working for a long time but at least you are going to save your work.Don't be afraid to hit the drive on the floor but don't throw it,just drop it.Also try hitting the edges of the drive on a wall or something.
sounds like a good way to corrupt the data on the disc by smashing the read head into the disc...

i am on open to wacky new ideas but if the data is that important is it worth corrupting?
The disk is not working already pal.And the reason that the disk is inside a thick piece of cloth is to prevent direct contact with the surface,which is bad for the disk.The disk needs to be rumbled,shaken.Most propably the disks heads are stuck inside.I don't think there a chance of smashing the read head and becides notice that I said (drop the disk,not throw).
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
I dont think dropping the drive is a wise decision.  Yes the drive is toast.  But even if you wrap the drive in the towel....that is not much protection.  How far should one drop a drive anyway?  3 feet?  5 feet?  empire state building (wrapped in a towel!?)  anyway your answer is very incomplete.  If you read the rules on how to post comments and answers down below, you will see that proposing answers is generally if you are more than 100% correct and or you know that this has solved the users question.  In any case we won't know till the questioner responds back with the information.  And now that you have proposed an answer, it locks the question and puts it in a different database.  So that hardly any or no new users will respond to this question.

I would suggest you reject the answer and allow comments to continue.  Also let us know the progress.  Is dropping the drive something you want to test out?  That may do more damage than good.  If jarred incorrectly, you may do damage to the platters.  And that is where the information is stored.  Scratch that up say bye bye data for sure.

mtgcpcAuthor Commented:
Thanks again for the responses.  Although I have tried a "light thump" on the drive (out of frustration I am sure), I don't think that I can afford to drop the drive and take the chance with my data.  

I have received another quote for $900.00 to get my data back.  That seems to be the going rate.


If you can please distribute the points for this question evenly to those who responded I would appreciate it.  Most of the responses helped in one way or another.

thanks again
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:

You may request a point split via community support here:

To help the moderators out, you should refer them to this question:

Tell them how you would like to split it.  And to whom you would like to split it between and how many points each.
i had the same problem of not working.. the bios did pick mine up though...
i put in a seperate drive to see if it could see the broken one and it could
but when i clicked on it it said that i needed to format it... i ended up just
trying to recover all the files that i could with a tool called file scavenger
which works really great compared to the 5 or 6 that i've used in the past
i was told that you can make a drive image with norton ghost and then
use the NG image explorer to get files back
i know this probably dosn't help you but maybe it will help someone
"Non-System Boot disk".
error only occurs if No BootDisk are detected.
Check Harddisk Cable, Check Harddisk Power and lastly check if you have a working IDE slot.
To check all of them, Place a working Harddrive to same IDE CABLE, Same HARDDISK POWER and Same IDE SLOT. Then, check your BIOS if the working HARDDISK detected. If yes, then it is your old harddisk have a problem.
For File recovery, i have no idea.  Maybe you can try the above suggestion. And dropping your harddisk, sound interesting. maybe it is good if you've so desperate. :)
good luck
Hi ! ,

dropping the harddisk is the last thing you do ;) , first things to check is :

1- check if the IDE cable is connected the correct way (Check if the 1st red line is on the right side and matches on both the mother board and the harddisk) , if it is correct then :

2- change it with the CD-rom IDE and see if it works if not then :

3- check the power cables and if they feed it with electricity , if try all of them including the CDrom power cable.

if all of that didnt do any help then try connecting your hard disk on another computer and see if it works. if not then drop it , still not working ? then take it to get the data back and pay alot :(

hope that helped !
If you are really desperate, you can find an identical drive and replace the controller board on the unit. That's what a lot of the data recovery houses don't want you to know.
Good luck!
David WallCommented:
As a footnote to this Seagate reckon that two thirds of all drives returned under warranty are not in fact faulty.

It would be interesting to know how mtgcpc went and wether his data was recovered.
mtgcpcAuthor Commented:
I am working on trying to find the controller board unit - I didn't try dropping it, I think the controller board replacement might just work.

I'll let you know.

Thanks for the suggestions.
hi mtgcpc,
check to see that your pins are okay

i want you to know that you aren't alone.  this just happened to my quantum fireball drive.  it is older, a ~10gig drive that was working a-ok. now when i try and attach it to my systems - they scream bloody murder.  bios complains of not finding disk, complains of bad cable.  additionally, i have found if you slave it it inactivates the primary drive - how the hell this happens is anyones guess.  i am going to try the thump method.  maybe it'll give some satisfaction. in any case, all possible jumper slve/master configuations failed.  and i tried this on 4 different computers!

good luck,
seems like the drive is not even spinning up.  What I would try is to unplug the ide cable and start up the pc to see if the drive spins up then.  If it does, start the pc, immediately after drive starts to spin up, plug the ide cable in and see if it is detected then.  I have had to do this a couple times with Western Digital drives.
one of my tricks to get such a HD working is wrapping the HD in cloth then in zipup polybag and put in in freezer for 2 to 3 hrs. Then get it out and connect in that cold state to the pc. (ofcourse wuld make it slave) and try to recoverthe data. It workd most of the time if the electorics is not damaged or some mechanical part inside the hard disk is not broken off completely.
Normally if the harddisk is not working right, just see if it's still turns with powder atttached.  If yes, try to find a identical harddrive, same model, and uninstall the PCB (circuit board) and replace the old one. This would work if there is the problem of the PCB, I have tried once and I can get the file backup! But this will be at  your own risk.
First of all DON'T DROP the drive! THIS IS A BAD IDEA! I cannot emphasize this enough. You aren't about to drive your car off a cliff to get the motor to start up. The same principle applies to hard drives. Hard drives are PRECISION devices that use a mirrored surface to store data, dropping the drive can scratch this surface and destroy data (like scratching a CD). They use an arm to access data if you damage either the positioning of the arm, or the head you can end up with the click of death. This can be due to the motor not spinning up correctly or the head making contact with the platter. If you still don't believe us, PLEASE goto this site as it will explain some basics for hard Drives:

As for a solution? First of all like other have said critical Data MUST be backed up (CD/Tape/DVD/another Hard Drive etc). If you don't have any backups software that countless others have linked. I personally like TestDisk simply because 1 it is free, and 2 it supports a variety of file systems. Good call Wakeup (check his post for the link).

Whats the status mtgcpc ?
The long discussion above seems good and i am almost sure that ur data is safe on the disks inside. It obviously is a fried circuit board. all and any  data recovery software work only if the damage is in the data not if there is any hardware problem.

Another thing,(i am not very sure if it but here it goes anyways), after u send ur drive to data recovery people, they will have to open it then most probabily) u will lose ur warrenty over it. So if it is still in warrenty period then make a choice betwen the HDD or the DATA

I would like to make a few points clear, i have had more than a fare share of disk troubles and u can be sure that with electronics old and new doesnt matter. Cirsuits can burn anytime due to bad handeling, shock, spikes, temperatures, bugs(the real lives ones i mean here) but never by viruses or anything software.

The best thing i would do here(u have to be comfortable with electronics) is borrow a digital multimeter and check for shorts(start with the power connector and move along the circuit) of SMD componets near the power connector of the HDD circuit as this is the part which usually fries first of all(in turn cutting out the power to the rest of the circuit, kinda like a fail safe to avoide further damage to the circuit). I have a segate 80Gb 7200 RPM HDD working fine here in this system from where i am writing which had got fried due to some kind of power falure of the SMPS(I had to change the SMPS too). I had to break apart a capacitor that had shorted out just on the 12V power line on the HDD circuit. My HDD has been runnig perfectly since then.

If u r not comfetable with this then get some friend who is, my point hereis that u might save ur Data recovery service money if u can get it working by breaking apart the bad component. and even if u rip apart the circuit dont worry u wont damage the data inside(not untill u play with something highly magnetic around it) and the data recovery guys will anyways have to replace the circuit board of ur HDD to recover any DATA, it is easiest for them...
PS:u will also void the warrenty by fidelling with the circuit so beware..

PS:also try to connect ur HDD using a 80PIN IDE PATA connector and set the jumper to "CS", make sure the is the only drive connected to the system(not even CD-Drives)

if anything works keep another disk ready to backup ur data :-)
Hi there. From what I have read this sounds like a problem I have come across a few tmes in my profession. It is more than likely a fried controller board or component. Usually in these cases the BIOS is unable to detect the HDD as communication is lost between the IDE connection and the controller board. Its rare that the pins would become damaged unless you are regularly swopping the drive over and are a bit heavy handed in guiding the IDE socket into the HDD. In this case, to try and keep cost down (by not sending to a recovery house), try and locate a replacement controller board, either from the manufacturer or from a redundant HDD of the same make and model.
       I have done this in the past and have had success around 7 out of 10 times. Just remember to wear an Anti static strap at all times when carrying out repairs.

Hope this helps.
You probably don't have the $$$ to get PC3000 which can recover even the dead drives. Try a program called MHDD .  I used it to connect to a drive the bios couldn't detect. If the drive does not spin at all then pc3000 is your last chance...  all the best
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