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Data recovery frrom unbootable laptop hard drive


My laptop's hard drive recently failed - bad sectors all over the place, refused to boot. After playing with the fabby Ultimate Boot Disc utilities (which some genius in here directed me to), it was pretty clear it wasn't going to be recoverable. I now have a new one, but it would be handy to get some of the files off the old one. I have a USB/2.5" adapter box, but when I try and access the drive from another PC I just get a 'cyclic redundancy check' error and can't get to what's left of the data.

I've had a look at some of the data recovery software options, but most of them seem to be for accidentally deleted files on functioning drives. None of them specifically mention the sort of recovery I'm attempting, although I could just be looking in the wrong place. As mine can't be accessed by normal means, is there any canny software out there which can be used to view and recover what's left of my files? I'll need to do this in batches because I'm on a borrowed machine now, and only have a few gigs of drive space to play with.

I'm not too bothered about the software - Microsoft expect me to pay for Windows XP again even though I bought a license with the laptop and have a valid key, so I'm going down the Linux path. It's mostly just documents, spreadsheets, video and sound files that I want back.

Any ideas? If it's going to cost I'd prefer something with the option to trial so I know I'm not wasting time AND money :-)

2 Solutions
Nicola-HAuthor Commented:
In case it makes any difference, this is the damaged drive spec:

    * manufacturer : Toshiba (MK6021GAS)
    * capacity : 60 GB
    * certification : S.M.A.R.T.
    * height : 9.5 mm
    * drive rotation : 4200 rpm
    * number of disks : 2
    * number of heads : 4
    * bytes per sector : 512
    * interface : Enhanced IDE (ATA-5)
    * buffer size : 2 MB
    * desktop or notebook? : notebook

have you tryed getdataback it has a trial period to see if it going to work before you have to pay for it, here's a link to download it
As Jamie suggeste, GetDataBack is a great tool, especially for soft errors, corrupted partition table, MBR, etc.  But for recovering data off of bad sectors, the best I have found is SpinRite that can be found at http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm .  

I would try GetDataBack first since it has a free trial, and SpinRite does not.  GetDataBack will tell you how much of your data it can get back ... and if you find the files you need from GDB, then just buy the full version and you are done.  If not, then I would try SpinRite which is often able to recover bad sectors to another spot on the disk.  Good luck!
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Also, it may be better to hook the drive up on its IDE interface to an IDE controller directly instead of mixing USB software into the picture as well. You need an adapter for this purpose, but they're not expensive.
i find it also better to connect the drive direectly to the IDE cable, as said;
here a link to the 2.5" to 3.5" IDE adaptor cable    

you can try then to access the data when booted from a bootable knoppix cd :   www.knoppix.org

here other links for recovery soft :
http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/collection/0,collid,1295,00.asp            Free Recovery
http://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm                              Spinrite
http://www.runtime.org/                                    GetDataBack
http://www.stellarinfo.com/                                    Stellar
http://www.recovermyfiles.com/                              RecoverMyFiles
http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/UK/welcome.htm                  pc Inspector
http://www.bitmart.net/                                    Restorer 2000
http://www.ontrack.com/easyrecoveryprofessional/                  Easy Recovery
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/restoration.html                        Restoration
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/activeundelete.html                  Active undelete
Nicola-HAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the info. I've got hold of the full version of GetDataBack - well worth the money. Some of the free ones look pretty useful too, so I'll keep them in case this happens again.

I had no probs using the USB convertor - just plugged it straight in and it came up as another drive which the software could be pointed at. A very neat gadget, the Icy Box.

Thanks guys :-)

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