"Dead" Hard Drives

Posted on 2004-11-17
Last Modified: 2010-04-10
Is there a set procedure one can follow to bring a "dead" hard drive back to life?

Question by:Peter_Fabri
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Depends what you mean by "dead".  If the spindles do not spin then the answer is no.  You would have to send off the hard drive to a data retrieval specialist and pay anywhere up to $10,000.
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    Yes, there is!

    1. Open your computer case
    2. If important data on HD, send it to recovery (you might be lucky - but you might have to widely open your pockets)
    3. HD -> Recycle Bin
    4. You -> Computer Shops (providers)
    5. Buy another one
    6. Get back to your IT department
    7. install the hdd, format it, etc. (leave the case open ;))
    8. copy your data to it, bla bla bla
    9. close your computer case
    10. Prepare to give some good explanations about where your backups are!!!


    Expert Comment

    I have found that sometimes you can give them a good whack on the right side i believe (like dropping them from like 3ft on a hard surface floor. Plug it back in and see if it works. if its trashed you have nothing to lose. If you do get it to work you'll want to get all the data off before turning it back off.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Ok, lets find the definition of 'dead' first.  If the hard drive is not recognized by the bios, you basically are doomed.  Then enjoy the comments posted above (i like the dropping it  out the space anyone?)
    If the bios can still recognize the drive, there are a series of recovery tools which you can try, it really depends on how dead you consider dead.  You can run some surface tests with a litany of programs, often fixing the MBR (master boot record) can help fix some below-chuck-out-the-window cases.  If the OS is the only thing screwed over, that can eaisly be fixed.  The important thing is really to find out how dead dead really is.  (Oh, if the bios can't see it, make sure everything is plugged in right.  And if you hear lots of noises, you may have a big problem.  Hard drive noises = very bad)
    LVL 34

    Expert Comment

    OnTrack Data Recovery may be able to get your drive operational long enuf to pull a copy of its data off. Depends on what exactly is wrong with it, but I understand they operate a clean room and can replace individual drive components, including R/W heads. Again, with the goal of getting it operational long enuf to reads its data and copy that data to another medium (like CD).

    Never used them, and I understand their services are expensive (something like a $400 diagnosis fee, just to tell you if they can get your data back, but I think they deduct that $400 from the total cost).

    Is it worth it for you? Depends on what was on that drive and how valuable it is. Of course, if you weren't backing it up, how valuable could it have been?
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    It all depends on what is wrong with your drive
    you have a few things that can cause you problems
    If your electronics are bad you might be able to get them working for a short time by cooling them, open case and use freeze mist on the circuit card and see if your computer can see your drive and get the data off fast
    if your computer can see the drive but you can not read any data you can freeze the drive by placing the drive in a plastic bag remove all the air, then freezing drive, after drive is cold remove and place in computer run scan disc to fix problems remove data scrap drive
    If your computer can see the drive and you can see some data then run scan disc then remove data then fdisk and format
    run scan disc again with surfase test on, check to see how much damage was done.
    most hard drive makers have utilities that may be able to get some of your data off the disk but they are hard to get your hands on.
    If all else fails then send it in to a data recovery unit and pay lot
    If you are a programmer you could write your own utility to read the data if the electronics are still working, good luck

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