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HDD doesn't isn't recognized by Windows/BIOS after a short time

Posted on 2006-11-12
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Last Modified: 2016-05-31
Hello,
first off, let me start by saying that readin my previous Question might help u get an idea of what im going through :
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_22024460.html
(basically a 200GB HDD with bad sectors and courrupted MFT, MBR and partition table.i use it as a secondary hard disk for extra storage and im trying to recover its 2 partitions)

 Using Active@ Partition Recovery, i had prevously created an image of my 20GB partition which i was able to browse thru and save using WinHex (though you need the forensic license if you want to be able to save complete folders instead of single files). I also found out that GetDataBack will recognize the HDD (from Windows) even though Windows and other Windows applications don't.
 But now i am faced with a new problem. I was unable to recover the 160GB partition because now after a certain period of time the HDD "freezes" and is no longer recognized by the BIOS or by GetDataBack. This is happening while i try to recover the partition either by creating an image with Active Partition Recovery (from DOS) or while GetDataBack is doing a scan to determine my HDD structure (from Windows). If i restart the PC and go to the BIOS setup i notice that the HDD is no longer recognized and i have to turn off/on the PC for it to be recognized again.
Any idea on what might be causing my HDD to suddenly "disconnect" and how i can solve this ?
I just want to recover my 2nd partition and throw away this HDD for good.
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Question by:greenday112
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by:yessirnosir
ID: 17928049
hard to speculate on what might work with a hard drive that clearly seems to have a hardware failure of some sort, but two things that have helped me nurse sick drives through data recovery are 1) keep it cool, by keeping it outside the case with lots of air circulation, because I think heat sometimes triggers intermittent failures like you describe.  And 2) try flipping it upside down or on it's side;  this worked for me once with a drive that in normal position was making awful noises, had a growing number of bad sectors, and would eventually freeze Windows because of disk errors.  When I flipped it upside down, the problem went away while I imaged the drive to a new one.  
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by:nobus
ID: 17928384
yes, keeping it cool can help - put it between 2 thick metal plates, and put some fans on it.
you can also try to cool it by putting it in a palstic bag, and putting some ice bags on it.
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by:greenday112
ID: 17929372
seems kinda weird, but yes i've heard before about people putting their hrad disk in a fridge to get some extra lifetime out of it.
 Also i wanted to stress out that after i turn off my PC and directly turn in on again, the HDD is recognized by the BIOS, so maybe (and hopefuly i guess) it's a software problem that can be solved and not a hardware problem.

P.S. : i tried this recently and noticed that while using GetDataBack, both time the HDD would freeze/stop being recognized at 13% of the scan.
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by:nobus
ID: 17930890
did you try running a diskscan for erors on it ?
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by:yessirnosir
ID: 17931142
a longshot, but are the drive jumpers set to unambiguous master/slave settings?  My middle-aged memory is failing me on the details, but maybe 5 years ago I had some bizarre disappearing drive behavior when I had one drive on Cable Select and the other on either Master or Slave, and the drives would appear to be working fine at bootup, but at some point one would disappear.    

I just googled for similar problems and didn't come up with much, but here's a guy who's optical drives appeared at boot, but after a while would disappear from the system, and solution was related to the master/slave settings.   http://www.short-media.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-9112.html
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by:rindi
ID: 17934231
Try a more powerfull PSU, or try the recovery operation in another PC. Sometimes a HD will shutdown if it doesn't get enough power.
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by:greenday112
ID: 17937566
@yessirnosir : i've tried several methods of cooling. None made any difference or improvement.

@nobus : i can't do a diskscan. The partitions are not visible by default, only special programs such as Parition Table Doctor, GetDataBack, Avtive Partition Receovery are able to detect the partitions.

@yessirnosir : Also tried playing around with the jumpers, and did as suggested in that link. Still stuck !!

@rindi : Tried a more powerfull PSU on a friend's PC. Got the same results!


..as you people see im running out of options here !

Oh 1 more thing i forgot to mention. While googling around i've found some people mention using Linux as a workaround to backup the partitions, since -apparently- Linux in general doesn't use the same Partition Table and Master File Table as Windows. But i have zero experience in Linux OSes. So i was wondering if anyone can shed some light on that subject.
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by:nobus
ID: 17937736
you can boot from knoppix cd, and try to read your data :
ftp://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V4.0.2CD-2005-09-23-EN.iso
just burn the iso to cd, and boot from it.
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by:EnclosAdmin
ID: 17943471
The Linux people are correct.  Ontrack always tries to access any drive they receive with Linux first and they will charge you the same either way.  So get Linux - it's free - and try it if you have the time.  I have a linux PC setup just for this purpose.  Our company lost a RAID 5 array and a single HD and after paying Ontrack $9600 we decided to try this setup.  1 RAID configuration and 3 crashed laptop drives later it's more than paid for itself.

It is a good idea!

Ontrack can get information from drives beyond lost - as I referred a customer who left thei computer on while putting up cement wall in their basement.  The very small dust particles got into the drive and the drive sounded like a chain saw when he turned it on.  Ontrack save over 80% of his information - but again $4600!

You're drive is in pretty good condition though so try the Linux solution.

Good Luck!
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by:greenday112
ID: 17974458
Hello again.

i downloaded knoppix 5.0.1 yesterday.while it initializes the HDD is recognized. but inside there's no trace of partition/folder/file related to the HDD.

Any other solutions ??
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by:nobus
ID: 17974486
ok - an alternative is ubcd4win : http://www.ubcd4win.com/      
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by:greenday112
ID: 17974806
I've already tried most applications that are on Ultimate Boot CD and on

u got any specifc software u recommend ??
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by:nobus
ID: 17974832
not really - just another thing to try. when some tools don't work, others can.
>>  it initializes the HDD is recognized  <<  it looks like the drive is bad - but i think you know that by now
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by:yessirnosir
ID: 17974841
Do you have access to a Ghost floppy or CD (for the older version 2003)?  Would be interested to know if it sees the partitions on the disk.  I had one success imaging a drive with a messed up partition table and bad sectors using ghost; you can use parameters to force it to ignore the bad sector errors, and when you restore the images to another drive, Ghost fixes the inconsistencies in the data structures.  But that only works if Ghost can see the partitions.  If not, Ghost also has an option to do sector-by-sector imaging that would be another route to at least move the data onto a drive that you trust, where you could try further recovery methods.  Of course, given that we don't really understand why the drive has been "freezing" or "disappearing" while running some of the other utilities you've tried, using Ghost may or may not provide any different results.
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by:yessirnosir
ID: 17975157
A couple of other thoughts about what could cause the drive to disappear after BIOS initially sees it.  You've probably checked all this, but just to make sure we aren't overlooking something...
-any chance that it is a bad IDE cable?  have your tried a different one?  is it an 80 wire cable, shared with primary drive,and NOT an older 40 wire cable shared with an optical drive?
-any sign of physical problems with either the power connection or the data connection on the drive?  any possibility that the drive is losing power intermittently due to flaky connector?
-any chance that it is related to BIOS settings for the hard drive?  could try disabling UDMA in BIOS to see if that makes a difference.
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by:nobus
ID: 17975198
anyway, i would test the drive with any of these - if possible :
http://www.disk-utility.com/hard-disk-low-level-format.html
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by:greenday112
ID: 17976448
@yessirnosir  : thx for all the suggestions so far. Ive checked all the cables, nothing is wrong with them. Besides, ive tried it on another PC and still got the same results.
 I disabled UDMA from BIOS, didn't see any improvements. But in my situation would it be safer if i keep it disabled or should i enable it again?

 Ghost 2003 did not recognize the HDD.

@nobus : My HDD is Seagate, and they only have a utility if i want to zero-fill my Hard Disk; and i sure as hell do not want to do that. As i mentioned earlier i just want to get the data back and throw the hard disk away, so i won't be interested in doing a zero fill even after (IF) i get my data back. But thanks anyway.


 So i was wondering if anyone knows a similar software but without those limitations ? This app. seems excellent for my situation. It says in the description : "COPYR does not use BIOS or interrupts, it does not care for file system integrity or number of logical volumes - it works with HDD in the way designed by developers "


Anyway, thanks for all the constructive contributions so far.. Keep it up !!
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by:yessirnosir
ID: 17976905
You may as well turn the UDMA back on if it didn't help.  
just to fall back and regroup a bit:  are the symptoms of the drive stable, i.e. can you consistently reboot the machine and access the drive for a while, until it "freezes", or is it not working at all?   Or is the drive getting worse and worse as we go along?  
Did you try the Ghost -IR switch to operate in "raw" mode?  That
I re-read your earlier comment about GetBackData stopping at 13% of the scan, which would seem to suggest a physical problem at a certain spot on the disk.  I think the priority has got to be to try to


I noticed that GetBackData also has a drive imaging function.  Did you try that yet?  I imagine it will do what the copyr.dma program does.  

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by:yessirnosir
ID: 17976928
oops, clicked submit by mistake on that last post while I was in the middle of cutting and pasting...
was going to say that priority has to be to try to find a way around that physical problem.  But my main trick for that in past has been Ghost, set to ignore errors, so not sure what to suggest next if you can't get Ghost to work even in "raw" mode.

Other software suggestions: like nobus said, the ultimate boot cd for windows has a pretty good collection of disk tools, including some partition table diagnostics, and the PC Inspector FileRecovery software http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/uk/welcome.htm.

I also keep a CD with BootIt NG http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootitng.html in my kit; it has a pretty good little partition manager and imaging tools built in.  But not sure how it does with a disk with bad sectors.
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by:nobus
ID: 17977593
you can test the disk with hitachi's drive fitness test too, it works with all brands , to my knowledge.
maybe one of these can help :
 http://www.easeus.com/disk-copy/
http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,1175-order,1-page,1-c,backup/description.html
http://www.freedownloadscenter.com/Best/hdd-sector-copy.html
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by:greenday112
ID: 18020839
Ok here's an update :

after trying several applications, im now trying a program called X-ways Replica. It copies the HDD sector by sector to another HDD; and it ignores bad sectors. But the thing is it's been about 10 hours now and only 1% done. (it takes awhile when the programs runs into a bad sector, and so far there are about 7000 bad ones.

My original plan was to copy the sectors to another hard disk (Replica writes 0bites instead of a bad sector) and then maybe recover the partitions using Partition Table Doctor. ( i was able to do so with my original hard disk, but cud not save the partition table info since sector number zero is a bad sector).

So my question now is do u think this could work ? I think this could take very long days (and weeks probably). Do you think it is worth it or do u know of any other alternatives ?!
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nobus earned 250 total points
ID: 18020889
the longer it takes, the less you will recover.
you must realise that not everything is recoverable, if you want it recovered, use a cy like gillware :
http://www.gillware.com/
the risks that you will loose more with software like that on a rather badly injured drive are very high
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by:yessirnosir
yessirnosir earned 250 total points
ID: 18021734
I agree with nobus that it would be preferred to just send the drive to a professional recovery service.  But it sounds to me like you may have already made the decision not to spend that kind of money.  So assuming you are trying to accomplish this for little or no cost, I'd say keep on plugging with Replica as long as it appears to be making progress.   I have had success doing a recovery similar to yours with 60 GB drive which, if I recall correctly, took about 12 hours (using Ghost) with the biggest time being the repeated chuga-chuga-chuga of the drive retrying each bad sector.   Even if you are getting thousands of bad sectors, it doesn't necessarily mean you will lose a lot of files; if a sector is 512 bytes, then there are about 400 million sectors on your drive, so you can lose a surprisingly large number of sectors and still recover most of your data.

In terms of alternatives, I think you have already tried most of the obvious ones.  One I didn't see reference to is OnTrack's EasyRecovery which is expensive but is IMHO the best product out there.  So if you lose patience with Replica, you might try downloading the trial version and running it; perhaps EasyRecovery would get past the 13% point that seemed to be a problem for GetBackData.  Of course, if you want to recover files, you have to shell out $199 for the non-Lite version, but even if you aren't prepared to spend that, there could be value in just doing the free scan to help decide what to try next.
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by:greenday112
ID: 18022194
"the risks that you will loose more with software like that on a rather badly injured drive are very high" ... im sorry but i didnt understand why is that ??

@yessirnosir : yes there are about 400 million sectors. i do believe that my data is still there intact - or atleat a big portion of it is-. The thing is that only about 10-15 GB isn't backed up (out of 130GB of data on a 167GB partition). so there's a good chance of this data still being there. I was gona go with Ghost, but Replica seemed like a much simpler app. + X-ways seems to have very decent and professional products

i think i might start considering (and saving for ) a professional recovery service. The thing is that im currently in Lebanon, which means paying extra $$ for overseas shipping, since i couldn't locate a any company that offers professional recovery service here.
Gillware seems like a decent and fairly cheap company, any others u recommend ?
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by:yessirnosir
ID: 18023930
at the risk of putting words in nobus's mouth, I think his concern is that if the drive has an ongoing physical problem, like a drive head that is periodically making contact with a platter, then the number of bad sectors will keep increasing.  So the longer the recovery software churns the drive, the more damage that could occur.  So a sick drive which contains priceless data should be turned off immediately and handed over to a professional, because you just can't risk having your recovery efforts destroy your data.   But in most cases, the data is not priceless, so things aren't so black and white.  You have to weigh the value of your data and the risk of losing it completely against the very high cost of professional clean-room type recovery  (eg. EnclosAdmin's post).  

How risky is it to continue to work with a sick drive?  I've never seen any stats:  it would be an interesting survey question.  Maybe I've been lucky, but I personally have never had a sick drive fail completely during recovery.   Out of about 10 drives with bad sectors I've worked on, 9 operated in a completely stable way for many hours while I used the same kind of tools you are using.  One gave me a big scare because partway through a recovery, the drive stopped responding completely.  On reboot the partition table was corrupted, with a slew of ugly error messages, and I broke into a cold sweat!  But one of the free utilities (can't remember which one) was able to repair the partition table, and the rest of the recovery went smoothly.  So I'm living a charmed life!    Your mileage may vary!
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by:nobus
ID: 18025929
yessirnosir, that was exactly what i meant. However, if the "bad sectors" are caused by a bad ram, or OS, or other device than the disk itself, then there is no fear.  
Rule 1 in recovery is to use the drive as little as possible.
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