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Recovering a failed hard disk

Posted on 2008-10-07
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Question.......I have a 20 gig Quantum Fireball Plus SA hard disk that has failed. I have it plugged into an IDE USB enclosure and have it connected to my computer. The hard disk shows up in Device Manager but I don't see it in Explorer. Also, the LED shows up as amber. I do hear the hard drive spinning though. Obviously I'm trying to avoid the cost of sending it out to a data recovery house......are there any other ways that I may not be thinking of that I can use to recover the contents of this hard disk? Before you mention it, I already know about backing up my stuff. This wasn't my hard drive, it was someone else's.
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Question by:mcpp661
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Expert Comment

by:ccns
ID: 22664493
Does it have a drive letter assigned? if not assign a drive letter.
also if there is already a drive letter assigned, format the drive and then download and buy :http://www.partition-recovery.com/partition.htm if you dont buy the program you cannot get your data back.
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Author Comment

by:mcpp661
ID: 22664498
No, it doesn't show up in Explorer at all. Can I assign it a drive letter if it doesn't show up in Explorer?
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Author Comment

by:mcpp661
ID: 22664548
Trying to get Disk Management to see this disk but it does not. Looks like this hard disk is dead........just hoping there is a way to get into this disk to retrieve the data. Nothing was deleted, I think there's a physical failure somewhere in the disk.
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by:Alan Henderson
ID: 22664563
Go into Disk Management. See here for XP:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309000

Which OS are you using?
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by:univision-computers
ID: 22664565
Right click on my computer > manage > and then select disk management. Does the drive so up in there? If it does show up in there, then right click the drive and then select change drive letter, chances are is that since it's connected via a usb connection it may try to use a drive letter that is already assigned.

Once you get the drive letter issue figured out then you can run a chkdsk /r from the command prompt. Start>Run> cmd > chkdsk *Drive letter of the hard drive* /r

Hopefully the check disk will fix any of the errors on the drive.

Also a great file recovery tool is WinHex - Go to download.com and then search for WinHex, it's free and works great.

Good Luck!
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Author Comment

by:mcpp661
ID: 22664593
I can't get it to show up in Disk Management at all.........I guess that's probably a good indicator that this disk is gone.
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by:univision-computers
ID: 22664599
You guys are to quick for me... lol  One other thing you could try is disconnecting and connecting the drive a few times in hopes it will come alive. One last desperation attempt would be to stick the drive in the freezer for a few minutes...never actually got it to work though. But I've heard stories it has. Worth a shot!
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by:chilternPC
ID: 22664605
I would try third party disk crash tools
see www.undelete-all.com

when you plug in the USB enclosue does the PC notice anything? (beep?)
try plugging it directly into another PC as a slave drive - soemtimes better.
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Author Comment

by:mcpp661
ID: 22665035
Other than sticking it in the freezer, I've tried all of those............I think this drive is dead..........I'll try the freezer thing though.
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chilternPC earned 2000 total points
ID: 22666521
"stick the drive in the freezer for a few minutes" - I heard that was one way of removing pin codes on car radios  - that does not work either :-)
if you are about to trash it then as a last resort a sharp tap on the central spindle (actually quite hard) while it it spinning - as the head may be actualy stuck (you would hear clicking noises as well)

did you make sure the drive was wired in correctly in the enclosure?.
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Expert Comment

by:gverastegui
ID: 22671290
Are you connecting this HDD into a Laptop via USB? or in Desktop?

If you are trying in a desktop, try to connect it directly into one free IDE port inside the PC. Obviously, turn the PC off, remove the power cord, flush all energy (press power button without the power cord for 10 seconds) Turn the PC check if your PC is installing a new detected device, check in Disk Management or in Explorer.

After you get the Disk detected in your PC, good for you, there are several useful tools to recover data if you need it, (e.i. GetDataBackforNTFS, GetDataBackforFAT)

Hope this help you
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Expert Comment

by:veedar
ID: 22694022
Often times a Linux based boot CD like knoppix can operate on a damaged drive where Windows can not. See here for one persons experience http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=3214

If the drive is recognized in knoppix but significantly damaged you can often recover all data that exists on non damaged sectors using a program called ddrescue http://www.gnu.org/software/ddrescue/ddrescue.html

The best thing is this is all free.
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Author Closing Comment

by:mcpp661
ID: 31504042
Sharply tapping the central spindle did the trick. Thanks man.
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by:chilternPC
ID: 22695335
cool....back it up as it will fail again.....
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