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Harddrive restoration options

I'm looking for suggestions on services that recover data from un-readable harddrives. My disk died yesterday and, while i have backups of a couple weeks ago, it'd probably be worth $300-$400 to me to recover the more recent files.
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juststeve
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juststeve
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3 Solutions
 
WatzmanCommented:

I'd try "ontrack"; a google search of "hard disk data recovery" should produce quite a few.  However, I'd say that your target cost is the very bottom end, and that it might well run more like $1,200 to $2,000 than $300 to $400.  But it never hurts to check.  Ontrack will give you a free quote.

What happened?  There may be things that you can do yourself, if you can mount the drive into another computer.
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WatzmanCommented:
Ontrack is at www.ontrack.com
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gemchestCommented:
Hi juststeve,

Is this linked to the other question you're asking?
Anyway the cost like watzman said is higher.

The dust-free labs dont come cheap

Cheers,
Luis
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juststeveAuthor Commented:
right...the same hard drive. > $500 gets out of the 'worth it' range but I'll look at ontrack. Am looking into the Maxtor utility now.
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David WallCommented:
If the drive isnt a maxtor it is worth going to the individual manufaturers page as most now produce some sort of diagnostics software to test drives.

Seagate certainly wont exchamnge one if you havent checked the drive with there utility. But you can also use it to recover the drive in some cases.
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juststeveAuthor Commented:
is a maxtor thankfully...just a few months old too.
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Rich RumbleSecurity SamuraiCommented:
Is the drive recognized by bios and the os? I've found that if it's not spinning up, you can in a lot of cases use the same model HD, or very close to it, and swap the circuit board on the bottom with one another (make sure you mark the good one to avoid confusion) and get the HD to be recognized and retrieve the data. A friend of mine worked for SeaGate in the HD refurbishing department, and he said that 70% of the HD's that they refurbished all they had to do was swap the board on the bottom, test, wipe, test wipe, and test again and then they went back to the stores! I've used the trick on a few myself, not just seagate's- and it works... might be worth a shot to buy a cheap maxtor and see if you can swap the circuit boards. The boards just use contact's to power the motor, and the HD arm and data are usually connected with a ribbin cable or PIN plug- nothing to complicated.
-rich
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WatzmanCommented:

If the drive is recognized by the BIOS, there's at least some hope of data recovery without using a service.  If not, you can try swapping the board, I'm more skeptical than rich is, but as a "last resort" it's worth a try (and the cost, certainly, will be far below your $500 "not worth it" point).  If you try that, at the very least, get a board from a same-model drive.  My own experience is that more problems are in the HDA (sealed chamber) than on the board, and many drives have programmed ROMs on them, programmed at the factory with information specific to that particular drive, making the boards effectively non-interchangeable because of the programming.  But there's nothing wrong with trying it as a last resort.
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MrBillisMeCommented:
This was suggested on this site a few years back and I have successfully woke up two drives and recovered data using the bang/bang method when a drive will not start spinning or constantly hangs and I am at a last resort condition.

Have a machine available that you can easily plug the drive into as a SLAVE. I have a machine with a Mobile Racks so it works really well. I take the disc and slam it bottom side down on to a desk top twice, a slam is from about foot and half above the desk. I then carefully plug the drive in and boot up, see if the data is viewable, if not step two. Remove and double slam the drive on it's top and reinstall and check, if no then step three. Remove and double slam the drive on it's right side and reinstall. Continue the process untill all surfaces have been tried.
In my two successes the drive woke up on the first slams and the other on the third slams. In both cases I transfered the data to the master drive and these drives ultimately hung up again after a few hours. These were IDE drives, I never tried with a SCSI or SATA drive.
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gemchestCommented:
haha, I've tried that, but the bang/ bang method should use only after the freezing method dont work, cos you might cause a bigger physical damage if it really has one

cheers
Luis
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J-A-LCommented:
Try
www.data-r-us.com

They claim to be the cheapest around and the quote will be in the $400 to $600 neighbourhood probably.
Check it out.

Jeff
at yourtechonline.com
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MrBillisMeCommented:
Hi Gemchest,
As I indicated, it's what I do just before the hard drives go to the trash compactor and has worked for me. Not tried the freezing method, what are the details, so juststeve can try that as well when all else fails.
I'm not going to recommend a blowtorch, hummmmmmmm maybe?
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gemchestCommented:
hi again,

It's really fun hearing so many techniques, some of which i've  not heard of, maybe can archive for future use :P

cheers,
Luis
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JohnnyCanuckCommented:
If the drive spins up and is seen in the BIOS use these.

Spinrite 6
http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
$89.00

GetDataBack
http://www.runtime.org/
$69.00-$79.00 depending on file system
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WatzmanCommented:

Wow, NEVER "bang" a drive.  This will "slap" the heads against the platters, and probably destroy both, making any kind of recovery impossible.

***IF*** the problem is that the drive doesn't start (spinning), however, there is a technique that often works.

With the drive fully connected and powered, hold it in your hand in mid-air.  Now give the drive a sudden "snap" ("twist"), trying to center the axis of the snap/twist around the "axle" of the platters.  What you are trying to do is use rotational inertia to "start" the platters turning (spinning), with the drive in mid-air.  No actual hard contact with anything, and the motion is, as much as possible, parallel to the platters, and thus won't induce head to platter contact.  This sometimes works, I've done it a number of time successfully.  It is only useful when the problem is that the platters are not turning.  It won't help in any other situation.

Although I've never tried the "freezing" technique myself, I know a number of technicians who have, and on a few occasions it has worked.

But I would NEVER "slap" a drive down on a hard surface.  I think that's a recepie for disaster.

None of the end-user software (spinrite, etc.) is likely to be successful unless the platters are turning and the drive is recognized by the bios.

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RimscorpCommented:
Hard Drive Recovery 101

Hitting = Bad

Freezing method and twisting in mid air method work for platters not spinning.

If the drive is spinning and recognised by the bios (wich hardly ever happens) 3rd party apps can be implimented.

But none of these are 100%


You could also do the Unimagineable and do what they actually do at a data recovery center and open up the hard drive and put the platters into a new hard drive... but lets be honest ...hes got a better chance with the first 3

                                                                           
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juststeveAuthor Commented:
to clarify the current situation...the drive will still boot windows but is getting less stable...yesterday i could boot and not get errors until i accessed the drive (seemingly with a or operation tho how obviously windows 'reads' stuff on the way up. e.g. when I found i could'nt copy files I tried to upload critcal one's via FTP and immediately got a read error. But today's windows will not completely boot (gets to the desktop but no further).

Because of this progressive nature i'm reluctant to keep trying utils on my own and am inclinded to give data-r-us a shot at it before more damage done.

thoughts?
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RimscorpCommented:
Have you tried Ghost ?

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Rich RumbleSecurity SamuraiCommented:
I'll bet you could do the secondary solution... ghost could do it as well, but the less you mess with it the better- if the secondary HD solution doesn't work, ghost likely won't, and you may have to use a professional service.
-rich
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FalconHawkCommented:
No solution, but i got a lead. It will start with kinda a weird story, and then it will get clear.

If the FBI or the CIA found a computer that has data on it and they want it, they never acces the harddrive or even the PC, since it may be boobytrapped or have data destructers. They cannect another PC to the harddrive, and let it do a BIT TO BIT copy. Now, why do i point at this? If they do it, it should be able to connect the correct port from the damaged harddrive to a pc, and the making a copy of the harddisk. That way all data is recovered as the is currently on this disk.

Second thing you could try, is booting in safe mode. i knoew this is the all popular pointour for a lot of questions, but it kinda strikes me that you can still bootup, wich is drive accesing.

Last thing i want to point out is that data on a harddisk is fairly safe. If the reading/writing mechanism breaks down, the data stays magnitized on the disks. so, in the most extreme cases, you can get those disks out of the harddrive. (i wont recommand this, im more saying that data is safe, then suggesting this as a "solution")
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WatzmanCommented:

Ok, if the drive is booting AT ALL, you are in relatively good shape -- a LOT better than it could have been.

However, if the drive is booting, DO NOT BOOT IT .... not in safe mode, not in ANY mode.  Every time that you do that, your chances of recovery go down.  They go WAY down.  They go down A LOT.

What you want to do is take that drive, and install it on ANOTHER computer, as an additional (2nd, 3rd, whatever) drive, and copy the data off of it to another media.  Do that first.  Don't do ANYTHING that will do ANY writing to the drive (which booting up from that drive will do).

Now, if you get everything, great, you are done.  Since we've established that it's a Maxtor drive, and it's only a couple of months old, the next step is to return the drive and get a replacement drive.

On the other hand, if there is important stuff that you can't recover, then probably Spinrite is the next step.  Us Spinrite -- a very good program, by all accounts -- and see if you are then able to recover any additional files.  If you now have everything of interest, fine return the drive for replacement, if not, then it's time to consider data recovery services.

At this point, I think that we've really said about all there is to say.  The path here should be clear.  Best of luck.
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sciwriterCommented:
Juststeve -- if the drive will still run, your best bet is GetDataBack -- it is a free utility -- at

http://www.runtime.org/gdb.htm

For the testing of the data.  If it can indeed recover it, you pay a small reg fee of like $20 or so?
The reason this program beats the others is because it does NO CHANGING of the drive contents or structure.  It is MOST important to run nothing at all (like scandisk) that will change the drive or FAT structure.

Try getdataback -- I have had oodles of great feedback from people who thought their drive was gone.
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RimscorpCommented:
Or you could buy a raid card since reconstructing a raid array takes place in the bios it should rebuild the array with the bad drive as the master source, it would copy it over and then brake the mirror and your gold

just a thought
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MrBillisMeCommented:
Just for record Watzman........I'm not avocate for hard drive abuse and I realize that drives should be treated with care to avoid head damage but if they are not responding and headed to destruction then I see no reason to not do whatever works to get the data back and I have recovered data from dead drives with the bang/bang method.
I do agree with your last comment regarding a drive that has some life. Get it set up as a slave and pull the data asap.
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WatzmanCommented:

The only thing that the vertical slap might do that the "snap" or "twist" won't do .... is further damage to the drive.
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MrBillisMeCommented:
or not!
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FalconHawkCommented:
It just depends on what risk you want to take. If its a last resort then go ahead and try whatever you can; it will go to the junk yuard anyway, so further damage isnt a worry. Even so, i would recommand to de the safer option first.
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gemchestCommented:
Hi again!

If your data is really important, then maybe you'd leave it to the data recovery team already...

cheers,
Luis
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juststeveAuthor Commented:
I booted to Spinrite and let it run 15 or 20 minutes on level 2...i'll restart it when i have time. But the suggestion to try a raid card is intriguing. I'll follow that up in another thread - in the mean time i'm sure the best advice of the lot is 'no boot 2 win &  spinrite asap'.

Fun thread - i appreciate all the angles provided but i must say, i'm a little disappointed the EE gang failed to include a line of attack suggested by an other tech exchange involving small animal sacrifices - admittedly more mess tho at least it didn't advocate putting foreign objects in my household appliances. who knew.

thx
--steve...
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RimscorpCommented:
Never underestimate the importance of a good animal sacrafice. Me personally ...I like raisin bread...But animal sacrafices are nice too. Thanks for the points.
 
                                                                                               -James
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