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CRC problem on external hard disk: what are my options now?

Posted on 2010-08-18
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Hi,

The external hard drive of a friend is producing CRC errors. Some files can be copied (all files can actually be seen as a list in Windows Explorer) but most can't ... what are my options now?

I've tried a lot of things already like the chkdsk /f/r and also unstoppable copier. But the later seems to get stuck at files that produce an error? I've tried to clone the disk using EASEUS Disk Copy but that didn't work because the disk, obviously, has errors.

Right now I'm using CDCheck (http://www.kvipu.com/CDCheck/) but it is veeeeeeeeeery slow! I'll let it do its job over night so and then check where we're at tomorrow ...

Any other ideas??

Oh, and the drive makes that lovely clicking sound at times ...

Thanks,

Jerome
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Question by:Xeronimo
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by:dendob
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Hi Jerome,

Your disk is running at the end of its life, you can be sure of that.

What i use, most of the time, to recover as much as possible is use western digital life guard tools:
http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=605&sid=3&lang=en

Try and run a complete scan, if it fails, then restart it. The software corrects the errors as he passes over them but too many bad sectors and he fails the drive. However bcause he has corrected some errors, a 2nd or 3rd run can completely get your bad sectors cleared for the moment.

The problem with your disk that the ticking sound is pointing to a close complete failure of the mechanics of your drive.

So get data of it asap and then dump the drive... it is close to breaking point
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by:Xeronimo
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Ok, I'm running that tool ... hm, it fails with 'cable test failed', please check the cable! ... it also started clicking now ... which it didn't when I tried to copy a couple of files before ...
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by:Xeronimo
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denbob:

> So get data of it asap and then dump the drive... it is close to breaking point

I know ... but how do I get the data that's still good of it in the best and quickest way? I can't just copy all the folders manually ... also there's probably at least one in each that will break the copy process ... and unstoppable copier seems to get stuck on problematic files instead of skipping them??
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torimar earned 500 total points
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If you aren't afraid of the command line and of using a Linux based tool, you might want to try 'ddrescue':
http://www.gnu.org/software/ddrescue/ddrescue.html

It was developed for pretty much this purpose. It will clone your HDD sector by sector, offering an option to first copy only the undamaged sectors without retries, then, if desired, try to rescue the damaged sectors.
The method is very easy, described here:
http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/Damaged_Hard_Disk (right at bottom of page)
and here in the manual's examples:
http://www.gnu.org/software/ddrescue/manual/ddrescue_manual.html#Examples

Use the Parted Magic live CD ( www.partedmagic.com ), it comes with the tool pre-installed.

As I see it, the only real problem a non-Linux guy may run into is to find out which are the appropriate Linux device names for a) the broken disk, and b) the backup disk.
I suggest to first boot with none of these external disks connected, then, in a console window (terminal), run this command:
fdisk -l     (<---- That's a small 'L')

You will see a list of all the partitions on the internal disk, most likely called 'sda', so the partitions will be sda1, sda2 etc.
Then connect the broken disk and run the command again. You will now see and additional drive, most likely 'sdb'.
Now connect the backup drive and run the command a third time; you will find another device name, most likely 'sdc'.

Now type this command in the terminal:
ddrescue -n /dev/sdb /dev/sdc rescue.log

Please adjust the device names accordingly. If the backup disk is larger than the failin g one, and you want to clone to a specific partition of it instead, just add the number of the partition, like this:
ddrescue -n /dev/sdb /dev/sdc2 rescue.log
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by:torimar
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/edit:

Once the above has completed, and you want to give it a try to maybe recover some of the damaged areas, run the following command:

ddrescue -r X /dev/sdb /dev/sdc rescue.log

Replace the "X" by a number representing the number of retries allowed (1, 2, 3 etc.)
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by:Xeronimo
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Torimar:

Thanks, I'll try that next. Right now I'm using Unstoppable Copier again since I found an 'auto-skip damaged files option' ... that way I can maybe at least copy the non-damaged files ... it seems to work (he's copied 20 files now and skipped 7) but he's kinda slow and seems to get a bit stuck at the damaged files after all ... I'll wait a bit more ...

Or do you think I should stop this and try your method immediately? And can I use two external HDs (the damaged one and a new one where I'll clone it too), right?
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by:torimar
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You need to bear in mind that the more you strain the damaged disk, i.e. the more 'traffic' you generate on it, the sooner is it going to finally fail.

The decision is up to you; but the Unstoppable Copier is simply a file copy process, not a bitwise clone. Once you have the clone, you could still use the Copier on that, whereas it's impossible to do it the other way around.


>> "And can I use two external HDs (the damaged one and a new one where I'll clone it too)"

Well yes, that's what I was talking about in my comment all along. Maybe I wasn't being clear enough. Make sure you understand exactly what you are doing, otherwise you may end up unintentionally overwriting the damaged disk with the contents of another one. You also don't want to overwrite any of your internal disks, of course.
If in any doubt, refrain and ask back here.

ps:
The Parted Magic disk also contains a tool for making screenshots, and it's very easy to setup network connectivity inside it, so you should be able to visit E-E from within that live CD, no need to leave it or switch computers.
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by:Xeronimo
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Tori:

> The decision is up to you; but the Unstoppable Copier is simply a file copy process, not a bitwise clone. Once you have the clone, you could still use the Copier on that, whereas it's impossible to do it the other way around.

That makes sense. Unless the disk breaks during the clone ... if it breaks during the copying then I would at least have those files that have been copied up to that point?

How long do you think such a bitwise clone will take for a 150 GB disk (with 50 GB data) on it?

> Make sure you understand exactly what you are doing, otherwise you may end up unintentionally overwriting the damaged disk with the contents of another one. You also don't want to overwrite any of your internal disks, of course.

Yes, of course. I should have read your post more carefully ... I'm again doing x things at the same time ... breathe, breathe! ;)
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by:Xeronimo
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Ps. no clicking noise for now (during the copying)!
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by:torimar
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>> if it breaks during the copying then I would at least have those files that have been copied up to that point?

Yes.

>> How long do you think such a bitwise clone will take for a 150 GB disk (with 50 GB data) on it?

That depends on a) the normal USB-to-USB transfer speed on your system, and b) the amount of damaged sectors on the failing disk. Bear in mind that a bitwise clone will copy *each* sector, whether it contains data or not.
I'd guess the whole operation will take roughly as long as a 150 GB USB-to-USB transfer will take on your system +x, where 'x' is a small amount of additional time that goes into writing the log and acknowledging failed attempts on damaged sectors.
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by:Xeronimo
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Torimar:

Hm, the Linux seems to recognize it as a CDROM? Yet it's a LACIE ...
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by:torimar
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Xeronimo,
How do you know that?
Did you follow my instructions as given above? The "fdisk -l" command does not list CDRoms.

I am writing this from inside Parted Magic. Just rebooted my system and checked whether my instructions were beginner-proof and  work just like that. They actually do. I used two external USB drives which I added subsequently. The command 'fdisk -l' let me find out that the first USB drive is considered to be sdg with one partition sdg1, the second USB drive is sdh with 4 partitions, sdh1, sdh2, sdh5 and sdh6.

If I were in your position, I'd now write:
ddrescue -n /dev/sdg1 /dev/sdh1 somelog.txt

Please try again.

Did you find out what I meant by "console"? It's the small icon in the menu bar next to the life saving ring which launches a 'LX terminal window'.
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by:Xeronimo
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Well, the fdisk -l only showed the internal hard disk even though the external disk was connected. I switch the external HD off then and clicked the mount utility just to try it which showed then the internal disk and the cd-rom. And when I switched on the external HD again it showed up there as CDRW? Still didn't show up inside of the terminal windows after having issued your command again.

Yes, I know what the console is.

Thanks
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by:Xeronimo
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I understand what you're saying and it sounds like a really good idea. But right now it can't work since the damaged HD isn't being recognized ... although Windows does recognize it!?
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by:torimar
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Does this happen with both of the external HDDs? Or only with the failing one?
Is that external disk actually connected via USB?
Did you try booting with the externals disconnected, then connecting them subsequently as I described above, issuing the command again only after the externals had time to register themselves in the system?
What does GParted (partition manager icon on desktop) say?

Could you get me some screenshots, maybe of fdisk in the terminal after both external disks have been connected for at least a minute?

Last but not least: did you attempt to access that alleged CDRW to see whether it actually contains files that should be on this respective external disk?
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by:Xeronimo
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Uh, I actually only connected the failing one ... since you said I should start with that one first.
Yes, connected via USB
Yes, booted without the externals etc
Don't know about GParted, will check later.
Ok for screenshots but tomorrow, I gotta go soon.
No, I didn't ...

I'll try this again tomorrow then! Thanks again for your help so far :)
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by:torimar
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>> I understand what you're saying and it sounds like a really good idea. But right now it can't work since the damaged HD isn't being recognized ... although Windows does recognize it!?

That is really very strange indeed then. I have personally experienced Parted Magic detect drives correctly which were not even seen by the BIOS.

Well, there is still the option to check the state of drives with TestDisk (also on Parted Magic > System Tools). You could check if that very potent tool correctly identifies your external. It will not damage anything because it operates in read-only mode until you order it to write changes to disk.
But on the other hand, this will be moot, since I cannot and will not suggest you use any tool to try and repair that disk before a complete clone has been made.
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by:torimar
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>> I'll try this again tomorrow then!

Will be there.
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by:dendob
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Hey sorry for my late reply,

since the WD tools failed on the cable test you can be sure that your drive is , as stated enough times is almost gone.

but nice one from torimar on the linux rescue tool, its one of the best out there and will be your best chance of getting your data as safe as possible on an external disk and then allow you to run any file rescue tool on it (althought damaged sectors will probably be lost anyway :()

good luck tomorrow and let us know how it ran
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by:Xeronimo
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Still doesn't recognize it as USB HD :(

It also starts clicking under Linux ...
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by:torimar
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Strange indeed. Can't say much here because I never had this happen to me.

Just for the sake of it:
-- did you make sure to properly close and remove the drive from Windows via the 'Eject removable hardware' in the tray icon area? Sometimes, if removable HW does not get properly removed/unmounted there can be all sorts of recognition issues.
-- does this alleged CD-RW contain the correct files?
-- what about disk size? does it display 150 gb or only ~600 mb?
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by:ocanada_techguy
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Sounds like it's failing.

Think ofthe doctor's golden rule, FIRST do no harm.The computerIT golden rule is before I do this, do I have a verified good backup, or else take every possible measure to do another. (the second rule is if it's aint broke, don't fix it)

I agree with ddrescue as a way to boot a Linux CD and then try to copy as much valuable data off the bad drive onto a good drive before you try anything elseadefore the drive fails.,
I also like PartedMagic which from command prompt can also "mount" a good disk, mount a the bad disk, and see if you can copy all the most desireable files. and TestDisk (on the same boot CD as part of PartedMagic)

So that you understand for the future, chkdsk with /R (scandisk with fix bad sectors tickbox checked as well, it's just GUI chkdisk, no difference)  has a very high probability that most all files affected by bad sectors that it remaps will then be "corrupted" and have to be restored from last good backup.   chkdsk "gives up" trying to read data off bad sectors after just a few retries, so then it forever remaps the bad sectors to "spare" sectors alright, BUT without the original block of data the new "hole" in the file contains zeroes, thus badsectored files are now "corrupted".

SpinRite 6 http://spinrite.com will take "heroic" measures, retrying literally hundreds of times to read the data off bad sectors and using statistical analysis and signal variances to reassemble the data, before remapping, so most if not all the data is rescued.
or HDDRegenerator

Keep in mind though, if the drive is physically crashing, that is there are disk scrapings and shavings cramming up against the read/write heads and causing more scraping and further damage, wellthen re-reading hudreds of times over might not be the best thing either.  Of course, if it's crashing, chkdsk will encounter those spots too.

If your drive make bad NOISES, grinding, scraping, etc, STOP, turn it off,otherwise you could be compouding the problem.  An occaisional click click or chunk chunk is to be expected, what that oise is is when the read-write heads are ataspot where it's nnot finding data, it thinks oh maybe the heads aren't alighning with the tracks properly so it swings the armature to the park, which bumps against the bumper, and then swings it back, repeatedly, trying to align with the data, but possibly not getting any.

Alas, once chkdsk has remapped them, it's kinda too late.  If it's a new disk, sure, test it for bad sectors with /R.  If you plan to redothedisk, sure, check it with /R.  BUT if there is DATA on there you want to keep, then NO WAY!  Use /F to correct filesystem inconsistencies sure, but I never use /R unless that is you plan to recover affected files from good backup.
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by:ocanada_techguy
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You're far better to open a machine for such transplant operations if you can.  Use a spare machine or test bench machine or the like.

First of all, connected directly all disk I/O will be FASTER than via USB, and whenther it's failing or thermal temperature related and gets worse the longer it's on for, faster sooner quicker will be better.  Secondly via USB all disk operations get translated to a lowest-common-deomiator SCSI commadset,ca't be helped, that's the standard established years ago.  eSATA is equivalent to SATA, USB is not equivalent to ATA, EIDE, or any of that.  There are some disk diagnostics that will go via USB by runing under Windows but it is still preferable to use the BOOT diagnostics disk, and it requires the drive be directly connected.
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by:Xeronimo
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@ocanada:

thanks for these detailed informations! I'll keep them in mind. As for attaching the drive directly to a PC that's not really possible right now since it's this fancy LaCie disk designed by Porsche ... I see no screws!?

@all:

since the ddrescue does not correctly identify the disk I've reverted back to simply copying the data via unstoppable copier. at least that way I can rescue part of the files (mostly photos of the last 10 years and music so it's not like it's business information and the like). Right now I've copied around 10 Gb (another 2.5 Gb couldn't be restored because of the errors on the disk).

yet it's sooooo slow! but that's not the fault of the USB, it's simply that Unstoppable Copier has some kind of weird time of when confronted to a file it can't read ... it skips it only after about a minute or so :(

so the healthy files get copied very quickly, it's the damaged files that make this such a long operation. I wish the program would simply immediately skip the file it can't read ... then this would be over in a couple of hours.

@torimar:

I might try your method again later when I've copied the files ... I don't want to try it again right now because if it still doesn't work then Unstoppable Copier will rescan some of the folders it already has checked and get stuck again for hours with the damaged files ... I'll wait for it to copy the current folders now and then I'll try again so I won't have to do the stuff twice. But thanks anyway for your help!


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by:dendob
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@author:
its without screws, this is what i found:
(http://forums.applenova.com/showthread.php?t=1430)

I used a long bladed kitchen knife to get carefully spread apart the sides from the bottom plate. there are 4 small tabs along each side of the case going int 4 slots on the bottom plate. The long sharp blade inserts easily between the side and bottom plate.
Carefully pry the side away from the bottom plate starting from the front working towards the back. You gently twist the blade to get the tabs out of the slots. the first one is the hardest. After that they pop out easy.

about the copy: you can also try a ghost of the disk but make sure that in the ghost settings you disable the errors about disk errors and he will keep on copying your disk as good as possible.
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by:Xeronimo
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It didn't work in my special case because the harddrive was acting too weird but the method offer sounds very good.
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