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Hard drive clicking

Posted on 2010-09-07
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have an end-user who last week instead of shutting down, would just press and hold the power button on the laptop to turn it off. Consequenlty, the last couple of days they have been complaining of it booting real slow. Today no desktop icons appear. I tried a few tricks, but decided to run an HDD confidence test. The built in diagnostics failed; read/write error at 70% completion. I removed the hard drive to connect as a exteral USB drive. When I went to plug it in and read, the drive just made a clicking noise. This has happened to me persanlly before, but it has been a while. Is there anyway I can recover data from the drive if it wil not load as a USB drive/external drive?
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Question by:BleedBurntOrange
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Expert Comment

by:truromeo4juliet
ID: 33620564
wrap it in foil or seran wrap, stick it in the freezer for a few hours so it cools, then pull it out and immediately attach and try to extract the data... when you have the drive out, try to set it upside down, or on it's side, rather than the original "label-side facing up" as it probably was in the PC.
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Expert Comment

by:aleghart
ID: 33620565
>instead of shutting down, would just press and hold the power button on the laptop to turn it off.

Not necessarily the cause of the hard drive problem.  May be a symptom that hard drive is failing, and Windows shutdown routing is not working.  User frustration...pull the plug...I do the same thing when my laptop freezes.  Nothing else you can do, and you can't wait forever to see if it's going to do something.

>Is there anyway I can recover data from the drive if it wil not load as a USB drive/external drive?

If it's already clicking, then there's not much you can do.  But, every time you power it up, there's a chance of doing more damage.  In the past, I've used data recovery services like OnTrack.  Pricey, but the alternative may cost more if there are no current backups.

There is plenty of anecdotal advice on proper banging technique, or freezing, or dissassembly/reassembly.  But, I'd err on the side of caution if there are no working backups.  If it's your own drive, and you don't care about losing data or a warranty replacement, then have fun.
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by:truromeo4juliet
ID: 33620568
also use a transfer program, such as 2BrightSparks' Syncback SE (www.2brightsparks.com) so that you have the ability to resume the transfer from the last file, rather than starting over again
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LVL 47

Accepted Solution

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noxcho earned 500 total points
ID: 33620570
If the drive is SATA drive then connect it internally to your desktop using one of the free SATA connectors. Then boot the PC and enter BIOS. Check if the HDD is detected there.After that try to boot into Windows with this drive slaved to your desktop and get to the drive via Windows Disk Management.
As for USB caddy - does Windows Disk Management see the drive?
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:tskelly082598
ID: 33620647
There are linux based rescue programs that you might download on another computer, and create a bootable CD to try with the hard drive still installed in the computer, however, the clicking sound may mean there is not much hope.

Example:

http://ubuntu-rescue-remix.org/files/URR/iso/ubuntu-rescue-remix-10-04.iso
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 33623988
I strongly recommend you just turning off the disk drive and giving customer a choice.  $1000 or so gives them as much data as humanly possible (this is estimate) via a professional recovery firm, or you can mess around with these software-based and freezer tricks that absolutely can and will cause further damage, and limit or even prevent recovery of additional data down the road.

These rescue programs are all the same, they read and read and read and read until they either get a block of data or time out.  This is extremely stressful to a disk drive, and you have no idea whether or not small pieces of ferromagnetic material is flying around inside at 7200 RPM or so smashing the media and making it worse.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 33624593
if the drive is clicking - no software can help  - since it is not accessible. (unable to read the data tracks)
sometimes i heard freezing helped
replacing the disk logic board with the same model and firmware can help too (itf the problem is in the card)

in all other cases, if you need the data, you need a data recovery service - i recommend this one : http://www.gillware.com/      
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:ken2421
ID: 33633328
Sorry.The sound that you are hearing is the "Click of Death".

I have known techs to find and exact duplicate hard drive and switch controllers. It is hard to find the drive and harder to change the r/w assembly. It is supposed to be done in a dust free booth and special filtering of the air.

Having a service to recover data will cost 350 or so for and an estimate and hundreds if not thousands more to recover the data in whatever condition it is.

The best recovery takes place before the drive fails. ALL HARD DRIVES FAIL. Sell them a drive, a usb drive, and some acronis backup software for the future. This is a terrible thing but the best time to educate a client.

Let me know if you want some referrals on data recovery shops.

Good Luck,
Ken
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Author Closing Comment

by:BleedBurntOrange
ID: 33633404
All,

Thank you for all the input. I was fairly confident that if the HDD was clicking, for the most part, the data would be unrecoveralbe without the end-user investing greatly. I was familiar with the freezing trick and wrapping the drive in bubble wrap and shaking it  in a paper jogger to get the heads to release, but I had never tried noxcho's approach. It worked. I was able to pull all the data off the drive. Consequently, I will reward him with the points. Thank you all again.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33635241
Thanks for feedback, glad it worked for you.
Nox
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