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Hard Drive Not Recognized / RAW Format?

Posted on 2004-08-19
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I’m working on a Dell Latitude C610 Laptop. It’s a second-hand machine that came with Win XP Professional SP1. It has been working fine for several months until the other day.

During the boot, the computer is unable to locate the Hard Drive (Device 0). I put together a Win XP boot CD (BartsPE) that includes a GUI interface and some disk utilities. When attempting to run the Check Disk, it reports it cannot run because the drive C is RAW format.

This is curious problem of which I’d like to know my options to resolve. I should add the drive does click and spin repetitively at startup. I realize it’s easy to respond saying “the drive is hosed”, but I’m not sold on that just yet. Also, I should highlight each utility I’ve used does not recognize the physical drive. Which I guess goes back to my previous statement about the Drive being hosed. My hope is that the noise I’m hearing is the drive attempting to be read? in which case the computer does recognize it?

Is there a utility I can include on the startup CD that will read RAW format?


Question by:JeffTronics
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Accepted Solution

cyrnel earned 252 total points
ID: 11846967
More than likely the drive is repeatedly recalibrating in attempt to stop positioning or other read errors. That would fit under "hosed" in my dictionary. You _might_ be able to get something off it. Any chance it behaves better cold, right after being powered up? If so you could pull the drive, seal it in a ziplock, cool it in a refrigerator/freezer, and quickly hook it up to try a quick backup. The downside is this isn't terribly good on the electronics since it promotes condensation.

You might get more information about the situation from HD service/diag utilities, certainly if that Laptop supports SMART. I'm not familiar with Dell's lineup past or present to know what yours supports. Some utilities are available from:


Author Comment

ID: 11847058

I noticed the Drive is showing up in the BIOS. So my thought is now, perhaps it was partitioned and the NTFS partition known as C is hosed, while the RAW is still there. However there is no letter for the RAW (thinking out loud).

I understand your suggestion and will consider it. I’ve heard about how temperature can play a role in resurrecting a drive. The drive is Hot Hot Hot to the touch.

Also, I will investigate these utilities via the links.




Expert Comment

ID: 11847431
Jeff, I've had many failed drives over the years and probably 80% respond to inquiries and show up in the BIOS. It's a firmware/no-moving-parts thing and usually when the drive is coolest. Then once a few reads and recalibrations hit they tend to tank quickly. The trick is getting the data off before the heads, surfaces or controller fails beyond use. That's where the cold comes in. Many problems are caused or at least aggravated by heat. Start with the refrigerator. Freezing can sometimes gel the spindle lube and cause other issues. Take it out, hook it up, bury it under a pillow or something to keep the condensation down. Cross your fingers.

Just in case, if you have another drive of the same model you can attempt swapping controller boards. It's tricky with newer drives just due to their tiny size, but I've saved quite a few GB that way. Just try not to expose the inside of the drive to atmosphere. The humidity levels alone will worsen the situation.

Keep us posted.
LVL 22

Assisted Solution

pjedmond earned 248 total points
ID: 11857239
If the drive is 'really hot', then it's normally goodbye:( as the reason it is so hot is because current is flowing throught the motor to turn the spindle, and something such as a crashed head/trashed bearings is preventing this energy turning the drive. As a result it just becomes heat). It's a specialist repair job if you need the data...or time to reach for the backups. Sorry:(

Author Comment

ID: 11876098

Here’s the final result of my problem.  I had to replace the drive. It was getting very Hot, and the BIOS was no longer recognizing it. Also, It does not work in another laptop.  Putting it in the refrigerator / freezer did not help any either.

Thank you all for the great responses and tips. At least I feel like I tried everything. A new drive is installed, and my previous data loss was not that great! I was fortunate.



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