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Return code 7 hard drive failure

Posted on 2008-10-22
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I recently just acquired a dell 4300 pc, from a friend of mine whose hard drive wouldn't boot correctly.  Here is what I've done so far...Booted computer from Slax cd to see if it will come up as a  storage drive so i can map out a network drive to move the files.  The Slax live cd didn't see the hard drive.  The next option i chose was to put the ide drive in another computer and make it  a slave drive to see if i could see the data on it.  I had no luck.  If I click on the drive on my computer from the spare computer that i'm using the bad drive as the slave, it says the drive needs to be reformatted.  What should my next option be before I tell my friend to send it away to recover the data.  I usually can see the data on the hard drive, by doing either of these two options.  I  see that return value 7 is very common on hard drive failures but why is it asking me to reformat drive?  Shouldn't I essentially be able to see that data on the drive regardless of what files may have been tampered with, by user, spyware, or virus?  Is there any open source utilities i can use that i can install on  the spare computer that will be able to fix the drive so i can read what's on it? Or even a cheap program that is under $75.  He was talking about bringing the computer to bestbuy and have the geeksquad look at the problem.  How would they go about this issue differently then me?  The other option i had was to purchase the hard drive adapters that will read the hard drive.  but isn't that essentially the same as making it slave drive?  I also heard that you could make and image of the drive using a ghosting program.  any help is appreciated  thanks
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Question by:livinlif3
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 22781133
When I've gotten failures like that from drives, the drive has died.  You can spend $75 on software if you like, but unless you KNOW there is important data, I wouldn't bother (the software you use will likely NOT recover anything - your best solution is probably a data recovery company if you want to get the data on the drive.  Otherwise, a new drive - that's LARGER, is dirt cheap.   Consider that a 500 GB drive is $65 at newegg.com
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by:Christopher Martinez
Christopher Martinez earned 100 total points
ID: 22781178
Honestly i would buy a cheap bridge and hook it up and as a external harddrive. They usually run around 20-30 bucks. If you just need the data off the drive this would be a good solution.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812150032 

Also out of curiosity, do you have the CD/dvd drive setup as a master or secondary and is the harddrive setup as the master? They could be a conflicting
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by:livinlif3
ID: 22781394
are you talking about bios?  i have the primary ide master set for auto detect hard drive. and the second ide is the cd rom.  i actually have that same bridge you showed and it hasn't worked for me yet when i had this same problem.  there's a quickbook file that i really need to get off.  i thought i could approach the situation as good as the geeksquad....and i thought that my trusty linux live boot cd would be my savior
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 22781459
Going to geek squad is NOT a good idea.  While there ARE some knowledgeable technicians there, MOST are not.  If the data is that important, then I would recommend sending the drive to gillware (didn't you have backups?).  No charge if they can't recover the data, under $400 if they can (most likely).  This won't be much more expensive than geeksquad would be and Gillware is a company that knows data recovery.

Geeksquad is so technically inept, anyone can hack their systems for $50 (reference Summer 2008 issue of 2600 Magazine - available from www.2600.com).
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Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 22781494
If you want to take the chance of ensuring your data cannot be recovered, you can TRY some home remedies - such as replacing the circuit board with an IDENTICAL board (down to the same firmware revision).  But DO NOT open the drive up.  This will almost certainly DESTROY all data.

An error like this is NOT a corruption - it's a failure of the hard drive itself.  It doesn't matter what OS you use, you're not likely to recover anything.  While I can't be certain, I suspect the recovery process at Gillware will involve removing the platters and, in a sense, putting them in a device that will act like a drive (all this done in a clean room)
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by:livinlif3
ID: 22781533
Yeah, I told him i'm almost out of options with it. except for putting it in the fridge over night.   the circuit board could be bad, i don't see any visible problems with it, it doesn't have any burned parts that i can see.
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