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How can I salvage a hard drive when Check Disk fails?

Posted on 2008-10-12
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Last Modified: 2012-06-22
I noticed recently that none of my files are showing up on my external hard drive. It opens in Windows Explorer, and I can see one of the directories, but no other files. Also, when I try to open the directory I get an error that reads, "J:\[folder name] is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable."

I ran the check disk utility and here's what came back:

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checkDisk will work now with drive: J:
J:\ Volume Label: OneTouch4, File System: NTFS
Volume label is OneTouch4.
CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 5)...
File verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 5)...
Correcting error in index $I30 for file 5.
Insufficient disk space to correct errors
in index $I30 of file 5.
Correcting error in index $O for file 25.
Correcting error in index $O for file 25.
Sorting index $O in file 25.
Inserting an index entry into index $O of file 25.
Inserting an index entry into index $O of file 25.
Inserting an index entry into index $O of file 25.
Inserting an index entry into index $O of file 25.
Inserting an index entry into index $O of file 25.
Insufficient disk space to insert the index entry.
Check Disk: Unable to Finish
Check Disk Failed

Error with drive: J
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I'm running Windows XP Media Center, SP 2.
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Question by:charleyer
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Assisted Solution

by:tenaj-207
tenaj-207 earned 100 total points
ID: 22699237
To salvage data on a bad drive you have to use recover software.  My favorite is OnTrack Easy Recover.  But, there are lots of file recover software out there.  Another thing you could try is using Spinrite to repair the drive.
http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm

Lastly, when chkdsk fails you can run it with chkdsk /r.  The computer will then tell you that it can't run it right now but will have to reboot and run it on reboot.  If you says yes to this prompt then the next time you reboot the system will run a detailed chkdsk that can take up to a couple hours to run.  However, it's unlikely that this will recover any files for you.
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Author Comment

by:charleyer
ID: 22699305
Sorry, I should have mentioned that I ran chkdsk as "CHKDSK J: /r"

I'll try some data recovery software; thanks for the suggestion.
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Author Comment

by:charleyer
ID: 22699410
Thanks again for the suggestions, but I checked them out and they cost quite a bit of money. Are there any free (or less expensive) tools someone can recommend?
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Peter_Brabrand_Rasmussen earned 350 total points
ID: 22699520
I use http://www.recover4all.com for the times when i have client that have lost thier files and data. Another tool is GetDataBackNTFS.. Used it once at a clients place.

Recover4All you can download and have it check the disk before buying the software. But you have to redo the test once you registered.
Hope you get your files back.
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Assisted Solution

by:TCB1
TCB1 earned 50 total points
ID: 22702720
Also, if you mount the troubled drive in linux (Using Ubuntu live CD or similar), you can usually pull data off even if the drive was having trouble from within windows.

http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download
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Expert Comment

by:TCB1
ID: 22702732
It looks like the disk is full and that's way it can not complete the check. Try deleting something you don't need on the drive and run the check again.
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Assisted Solution

by:Peter_Brabrand_Rasmussen
Peter_Brabrand_Rasmussen earned 350 total points
ID: 22703523
I would not recomending deleting data on the drive.. If the file table is  there is a possibility that you kill more data than you wanted to. And in the process loosing more files.
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Author Comment

by:charleyer
ID: 22707333
Thanks for the suggestions everybody...
I now realize I should have included this detail, but the disk shows 250 GB used (of 500). Is it still possible that it's short on space for chkdsk? Either way I appreciate the warning to not remove any files in case the file table is "???-ed" ;)
At any rate, an update:
  • I tried running a recovery with GetDataBack for NTFS (trial version) and it claimed it could recover 177 GB of the 250 that are on the drive. Not terrible, but I'm concerned because I can't really tell if the data's going to be usable without purchasing a license.
  • I've ever used Linux, but am willing to give that a shot. Any warnings for a total newbie?
Also, a final question: I guess I was hoping to be able to repair the drive and by doing so gain access to the files. Is that unrealistic? I don't have another large hard drive to copy recovered files to, but can probably borrow one if that's the best method to use. Can I simply repair the drive somehow? Or should I first try to recover files and then worry about wiping the drive and starting over?
Thanks again everyone.
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Assisted Solution

by:Peter_Brabrand_Rasmussen
Peter_Brabrand_Rasmussen earned 350 total points
ID: 22707498
I would borrow a seperate drive and try to save as much data before trying a repair.

Then you will have secured your files before trying to repair the drive..

Another tool to try is http://www.paragon-software.com. They have pretty good disk repair tools.. Bur backup before trying.. That will give you as mutch safety as possible..

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Author Comment

by:charleyer
ID: 22713419
Okay, thanks again for all the advice. I've got a busy few days coming up but I'll give it a shot and post an update when I know more...
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Author Closing Comment

by:charleyer
ID: 31505513
Sorry to have let this question sit idle for so long. It took me awhile to find the time to do the file recovery. Eventually was able to save some of the data, which was great. Thanks for all the help.
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Author Comment

by:charleyer
ID: 22873481
Eventually used GetDataBack for NTFS and was able to recover some of the files. Thanks for the help, everyone.
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