Hard Drive Crash

I have two of the same exact model HP desktop computers.  Both of these computers have a the same SATA hard drive in them.  Both Computer have Vista Premium on them.  When the computer boots up the SATA controller doesn't recognize the hard drive. Both computers within a week of each other had the hard drives crash.  This if find odd, how often does the same exact problem happen on two different computers?

I need to know how I can get data off these drives, any software out there?  This is what I have tried so far.

1.  I installed the drive on a different computer running XP.  The XP computer recognized the drives but when I tried to browse the data it wanted to format the drives first.  Of Course I didn't do this.

2.  On this same computer I used a ubuntu live CD to see if I could browse the data, no luck...

So is there some miracle software out there that can get the data off the drives?
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Neil RussellConnect With a Mentor Technical Development LeadCommented:
You will have to dig deep in your pockets PAY lots of money if the data is important enough. No miricle software but lots of data recovery companies out there that you can send your drive to.

Just google for "hard disk data recovery services" and look for one in your area.
Does the drive spin?  If so, go to your local PC shop (Not best buy) and pick up a set of cables that turn it into a USB drive.   Hook it up and plug it into a working PC to see if it shows up as a USB drive.   Pull the data you want.  If this does not work, just return the cables.
Were the drives originally configured in a RAID configuration, or were these just "D:" and "E:" (or whatever) drives used just for extra data?

If they were configured as part of a RAID array, then the steps will be different, and much more difficult.

If the drives were not part of a RAID array, then the process is a bit shorter.

I can recommend one of my personal favorite data recovery programs: iCare Data Recovery.

I've used Acronis and a dozen other programs, but in the end I think I've taken a personal liking to iCare because of its simplicity and reliability.

A few pointers I've learned from experience:

1. Make sure that the recovery computer you are going to be working from is properly cooled.  Drives that are dying or about to die will put out lots of heat.

2. Stop any and all other programs running in the background on your recovery computer.  Data recovery takes forever, so you want to free up all the system resources you can stand.

3. Ensure to the best of your ability that you are working from a stable power platform- preferably with a battery backup.  Nothing worse than getting a power surge or power failure 3 hours into a data recovery job.

4.  Find a really good book and set it by your computer desk.  Data recovery takes forever.

5. Disable hibernation and power shut-down modes on your computer.  You don't want it to go to sleep while you are doing this process- which can take several hours even in a very fast computer with a great processor and plenty of RAM.  It is just a cumbersome process.

6. Once you've downloaded the data recovery program of your choice and activated it, install it and then attach your failed hard drive number 1 (do one at a time).  Run your recovery program, and add the drive.  Select "recover everything" or whatever it is you are digging for.  iCare will allow you to select pictures, music, videos, documents or whatever.  Spend a few minutes studying the menus.  Afterwards, you will be prompted to select the Hard Drive where you will store all recovered files.  Choose a drive with plenty of space to recover your files to (obviously do not select the same drive which is failing).  Then just click "start recovery".  

6.  Go read your book, but don't go too far.
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
If the XP system recognizes the drives, you're ahead of the usual game already because the drive's controller boards are still alive.  That being the case, as has been said previously, it's now a matter of how you want to tackle the recovery.  You can pay someone else to do it, or you can try it yourself.

If you're going to try it yourself, then the approach largely comes down to what recovery software you're going to try.  There are many.  Some are mostly automatic and require little intervention; some are complicated and require detailed knowledge.  My personal choice is R-Studio.  They have a demo version you can download to see if anything is recoverable from the drives in question.

I am personally curious to know more about what happened.  Can you expand on the situation?  The situation will not get any worse for delaying a bit, and the more we know the better we will be able to help you.  
Reference the drives failing within a short period of time.   I run 100 HP desktops from teh D530 to the D5700 and a few models before and after.   The D530 drives started failing with consistency last year for no apparent reason.  Must have been a bad batch or Y2K (Kidding on the Y2K).
Seriously though, go get the cable set and try the USB drive angle....
kyleroiAuthor Commented:
I spoke too soon about the drives being recognized.  Why the other machine was seeing as a second drive was actually the HP's system restore drive (this is a separate HP computer from the ones in question).

I guess at this point I can try the USB?  Will hooking it up to a USB enclosure bypass anything that's mechanically dead on the drive?  I don't think so but maybe its worth a try.

Someone asked for more details so here goes...

Two computer's bought for our church.  Same models at the purchased at the same time.  I get a call one week that the drive is dead on one.  Five days later I get a call that the second computer's drive is dead.  I have never seen this happen before, but I guess its possible it was a bad lot of drives.  
I have seen it happen, and even experienced it myself.

There is such a thing as bad batches of drives.  There's a lesson in there for us, somewhere, that we all learn sooner or later, and that is to buy your drives from someplace - anyplace- that is willing to stand behind them with a no-hassle return policy.  But that is for another day and another discussion.

Tell me: can you hear anything when you connect the drives?  Are they spinning?  If they do not spin at all, if there is absolutely no life left in them, then the only remaining option for such drives is forensic restoration which is only done at a handful of labratories in the United States for hundreds of dollars per GB.

If the disks still have life (meaning they spin or move when plugged into your computer)- even if they are not detected- there is still hope.

Let us know if they spin, or if they are totally dead.   In my years of data recovery, the "totally dead" disk is relatively rare.  Not being detected, on the other hand is very common.
The USB Cable option eliminates all the "Boot" related crap and lists you get right to the meat.

After you get it on the USB and it recognizes, you might need to run CHKDSK /f from a dos prompt.

kyleroiAuthor Commented:
thanks everyone... I am going to get USB enclosure this week then will assign points and close.
jbrownlowConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There is an inexpensive device from Coolmax that willl allow you to connect the drive to another computer via the usb port on another machine. you simply pull the drive out of the machine, connect it to the coolmax device and plug it into one of the usb slots on another machine. this bypasses the operating system on the source drive and allows you to copy files from the drive to another device. No software needed. it shows up in "my computer" as another drive
kyleroiAuthor Commented:
Sorry for delaying my answer so long.  I tried the USB to SATA connector and the computer did not recognize the drives.  So now were are calling the insurance company and having them pay for the recovery process by professionals.  Hopefully 4k down the road we will get some data.  Thanks for everyone who posted ideas.
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