Recover Corrupt Hard Drive

I dropped my laptop and now it wont boot into Windows. It get a BSOD message saying "UNMOUNTABLE BOOT VOLUME". I tried connect the hard drive to a different computer using a sata to usb cable but when I connected it Windows Explorer froze. I saw the drive come up in My Computer but I coulnt open it. Disk Management also froze. It sounds like the drive is trying to do something but it can't. I understand this drive is gone and that I'll need to buy a new one and reinstall Windows. However, is there any software that can detect it and help me recover the files.
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torimarConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Recovering from a damaged drive will most likely be a case for recovery experts, like Gillware ( or Ontrack (

If you want to test software solutions before spending so much money, there is PhotoRec (, which is free, and there is Spinrite (, which is commercial.

For PhotoRec, check this step by step guide:

There is also a video turorial:
eshiramAuthor Commented:
Oh, and thanks!!
dbruntonConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Seems like every time you try and connect it freezes the computer.

I'd try the freezer trick.  Put the drive in a sealed bag.  Place in freezer for half an hour.  Remove and connect cables.  Fasten bag around cables to stop condensation damage and try and recover data.  This may be a one shot attempt.

No guarantee or warranty offered.  Warning this may damage your drive.
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veedarConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You might also consider Testdisk which is "designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again"

Burn this CD...

Boot up off the CD and run TestDisk
David Johnson, CD, MVPConnect With a Mentor OwnerCommented:
since the HD is obviously damaged your only solution other than a hard disk recovery service is spinrite 6 available at it  has been a life saver for me the last 20 years (from version 1.0)
Using one of the utilities suggested above that boots into its own environment is preferable to trying to read the drive from Windows. A bad drive creates problems when Windows Explorer tries to browse the directory structure for Autoplay and other such purposes. That is likely the reason for the freezing you are seeing.

I like spinrite myself.
eshiramAuthor Commented:
I created the bootable cd using spinrite but it didnt work. I created the ISO and used MagicISO to burn the ISO to a disc. Then I tried booting to that disk. A blank cursor appeared and then then Windows started.

Fyi, I am using a Vista Ultimate machine to recover data from a Vista Home Premium HD.

Spinrite does not care about your OS.

Something went wrong there. When booting off the Spinrite CD you should immediately see a Spinrite loading screen with a logo.

So either your BIOS's boot priority is not set to boot off a CD as first boot media, or you messed up burning the iso.
For burning, you could also try ImgBurn:, which is free. Simply select: "Write image to disk".
Don't use rewritable media, and don't use low cost nonames.
eshiramAuthor Commented:
I pressed F8 to select which device I wanted to boot to and and picked the cd drive. I burned it to a cd-r. I will try again, thanks.
verify the cd when burning. Most burning programs have a check box somewhere for this option.
coredatarecoveryConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I'd use the ubuntu remix cd, install ddrescue and blow it sector for sector to another drive using ddrescue.

This way, you can grab all the readable sectors left on the device before I screwed around with it.
the more you mess with these things the more chance you have of losing them forever.

(Freezing the hard drive doesn't work well and has the added danger of forming ice on the platter or heads. That can cause a head crash)

ubuntu is intuitive, easy to use and with a little help from us you can image it to a new hard disk and be up and running in an afternoon.

(US being of course the guys here at

by using a sector copy program you have the added advantage of getting all of your readable stuff off before the drive goes completely out.

You need to identify the drive that has your valuable data on it as /dev/sda or whatever it is before you issue the command ddrescue, failure to do so will overwrite your valuable data.
ddrescue will log bad sectors for a second pass at recovery. you can then issue the second pass.

Once this is done, you can run spinrite to your heart's content on the drive with little stress about losing data because, it's only working on unreadble data at that point, all that could be backed up has been.

After spinrite, you can issue the command again with the logfile sourced and it will continue the recovery attempt where it left off. (This may require you install your ubuntu to a temporary drive so that the log file is not lost, or at least you may want to copy the log file off the ramdisk space so that you have it for a 3rd pass later.
after you install ddrescue you have to open a terminal window and then issue the command:

sudo ddrescue -n /dev/(sourcedrive) /dev/(destdrive) /home/root/logfile.log

Or for older IDE drive /dev/hda  /dev/hdb /home/root/logfile.log

eshiramAuthor Commented:

That sounds like a lot of work but I would be willing to do it if I can get my data back. Is there a link to explain it for dummies? Or can you explain it to me?

What I would do is this,

Mark the hard disk you have, set it aside as your source drive.

Grab a scratch drive (If you have one) and install ubuntu  on it from the cd downloaded here: , burn it to a cdrom.

Boot the cdrom and install ubuntu, I say this because if you have a small hard disk, you can stop the copy process in the middle without losing data.

Once ubuntu is loaded, select the package manager, search for ddrescue and install it.

Now you will need the 2 USB to IDE adapters I mentioned just now. (Easier than any other method)

Plug the source Hard disk into the IDE - USB adapter and plug the power in. Don't plug in the usb yet.

sudo fdisk -l will list all drives in the system and whatever partitions are available to you.
note and mark the drives.

Then plug in your usb and run it again
sudo fdisk -l
 you will see and mark the appropriate /dev/sdb etc. Please physically mark the drive with a post it note.
Plug in your usb attached destination drive and run it once again.
sudo fdisk -l
and mark the drive with the info.

Another way is below

run this:

ls /dev/sda
ls /dev/sdb
ls /dev/sdc

as soon as you get a not found error, stop searching.

If you have a /dev/sda file not found, you can now plug in your usb.

Please note, I want you to tag the drive with a pen as /dev/xxx as soon as you discover what it is.

If /dev/sda was found, or no error, put a sticker with /dev/sda on the computer tower (that's where the scratch drive is and apparently it's either scsi, or SATA.

if /dev/sdb was not found, Plug in the usb and wait 30 seconds.

then issue the
ls /dev/sdb  if there is not an error, you may tag the source drive /dev/sdb.

Then please plug in the drive you are copying to *Your Destination drive*

Issue the following if /dev/sdb was the last drive you tagged
ls /dev/sdc if no error, you may tag your destination drive as /dev/sdc

NOW for the magic.

You have a source drive (Tagged /dev/sdb for this example)
You have a destination drive (tagged /dev/sdc for this example.)

Issue the following command:
sudo ddrescue -n /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /home/root/logfile.log
This will take a while, but skips all troubled sectors.
sudo ddrescue -r3 /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /home/root/logfile.log
This command retrys all bad sectors logged above and makes this process much faster.

Once this is done, you can shutdown -h now and shutdown the computer.

On a seperate computer, running xp and having enough room for your critical files.
Plug in the USB to IDE adapter with the destination drive attached and powered on.
Copy any files if the partition will mount. If it will not mount, Install Get Data Back from
Purchase a license for it and run it on the drive you recovered your data to to get as much as humanly possible back.

Below is a link I found after I wrote this all out for you.
You can research the drive model and firmware revision (FW or REV)
on ebay and try to get an exact replacement drive for a circuit board replacement.

Transferring the circuit board will require the correct size screwdriver (Or torx)

Often in dropped drives, we see that the circuit board gets cracked or damaged.

Good luck.
Have you tried PhotoRec, as I suggested in my first post above? Please check out the links I posted.
PhotoRec is not invasive; it uses read-only access to the damaged drive, i.e. it will not damage it any further.

You will find it on Linux live CDs. Instead of Ubuntu, I strongly suggest to use "Parted Magic" ( which is a fully functional linux recovery environment with all tools needed - and only 80 Mb in size.

You may use Parted Magic to run PhotoRec, and you may also use it to perform all the steps that Coredatarecovery suggested in his posts above. But before you do so, give PhotoRec a chance. Step-by-step and video instructions are all given in the links I posted above.
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