Help with External Hard Drive - data recovery?


I'm still new to fixing computers, but right now, I'm am in the process on merging all data on my  2 MyBook Essentials.  The intention was to have all info on one drive and then backing it all up as a duplicate. Good idea, right? Yea, well, it seems one drive is dead before I could get the info off (at least that is what the guy at Western Digital said)

Can you help me?

Here are the specifics:
500G MyBook essentials drive - when plugged into USB port, it seems to start up but it is not recognized in Windows Explorer.  If it does finally see it as a drive, when I click on the drive nothing happens.  Usually Windows Explorer says "not responding".

I can see the drive in Disk Manager and in Device Driver, but I cannot access the files.  
It does say I have 392gb out of 495gb free.

Can anyone help? The man on the phone at Western Digital gave me two sketchy/canned responses. One was for a loyalty reward for a new MyBook, the other suggestion was to go to Best Buy because there were too many errors for me to take care of. I didn't like those answers, so I'm here.  Can someone help me - I just want to get the data off of there and then it can die...I promise!!

Thank you,
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Sorry to hear about the issue.
Is there a way to get  the data off the host computer again?
 Did you copy or move the files?
 Which version of Windows are you using?
Have you check your computer to make sure it is using the most current usb drivers?
What other errors was he refering too?
Have you tried the external on another machine?
If the external was dropped it may need to go to a clean room to recover the data. That will cost hundreds.

If you are willing to spend some money, you can buy recovery software that may find your missing files.
I use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
here is a list of what it can do
Recover quick or full formatted drive or reformatted volumes;
Recover data from drive recognized as RAW and not files can be read including RAW disk, RAW USB drive, RAW SD card, etc;
Get files back from deleted or lost FAT and NTFS partitions;
Restore deleted files emptied from Recycle Bin;
Recover files deleted by a virus, trojan or worm;
Partitioning error recovery;
Get data back from inaccessible hard drive, USB drive, floppy disk and other media;
Retrieve photos lost from memory card, memory stick, camera card, SD card or any other storage media;

There is no guanrantee that it will help in your situation but there is a chance.


I think you need to look at a disk recovery tool.

I use FileRecovery Pro which works well, but there are a number of them out there. 

try the demo version to see if it finds the files, copy them off to another place and then talk to WD to see if the disk should be replaced.

to Synchronise the files try syncback. The free version will sync files (as long as they don't have non English characters in the file names).


The drive may very well be just fine.  More often than not, it's the ENCLOSURE that goes bad.  You might want to try taking the drive out of the enclosure, and putting it in a different enclosure, or even connecting the drive directly to your PC's motherboard as a second drive, to see if you can then access it.

Let me point out as well that your backup plan (basically, duplicating the drive) is perhaps not ideal.  If you get some kind of file corruption on your "working" drive, and simply copy everything on it from time to time to another drive, you'll copy the corruption, and you won't be able to access the corrupted file(s) from either drive.  Better to use an actual backup program that makes, for example, incremental backups (that is, it copies everything on the drive today.  Tomorrow, it makes a second, separate backup containing only what has changed since today, so that the updated backup doesn't obliterate the original backup.  The day after tomorrow, it makes a third, separate backup, containing only what has changed between tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, etc.)   If corruption of some kind is introduced tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, etc., on the working drive, at least you'll still  have the pre-corrupted version of its backup on the second drive.

Beware about opening the drive. It will void any warranty.
yes, it looks like a bad drive
i would test if one or another software can get your data first, here some links free- not free:      pc Inspector -FREE -            FREE  -  Recuva                        FREE Data Recovery                              Stellar                              GetDataBack

if none can get your data, you can still crack open the case, and take out the Essentials : disk, and hook it directly to your Sata or ide connection - not over USB

***cracking the case will void any warranty, of course !
Yes, cracking the case will void the warranty, so you won't get your $80 back, but my assumption is that your data is worth a lot more than that!  And, it's a whole lot cheaper to try a different enclosure than to pay a data recovery service, or risk making things worse by using file recovery software on a drive with a randomly misbehaving enclosure.

It also might be worth connecting it to a different PC, and even trying a different USB cable.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
As above you could open the case.  Inside should be a standard Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000KS 500GB 7200 RPM drive plugged into the MyBook USB interface.  If you remove the drive you'll be able to connect it directly as a slave drive to any PC with a SATA controller and spare port.  That would rule out the USB interface as the fault but as already said also means you won't be getting a refund on the drive.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your comments! I was in tears yesterday - I thought I was doing the right thing by getting the data off an old drive and getting a back up ready...only to have it die while I was using it.  Some sleep and a big cup of coffee and I'm ready to tackle this issue again :)

akahan: thank you for your info on how to back up. I am definitely going to do that. if you have a program you can recommend, I will use that.  Otherwise, I'll do a search and see what is out there...but first, I have to get the data back!

A few pieces of info that I guess I should add (before I start with recovery software), in case that changes anything.

Initially, the drive would slow down my laptop (the main computer I connected to) to the point that Windows Explorer was completely unresponsive. If I unplugged it from the USB, WinExp would work again. When I plugged it in I heard the alert noise that windows makes to let you know that you have new hardware (not sure what it is called).  Originally the Autoplay would open up, now it does not.

To answer your questions, yes, I've plugged the external drive into multiple usb ports, deleted usb ports and re-booted, tried in two different computers that the drive worked in before (MacBook and laptop running XP).  In the MacBook, it no longer recognized the drive and asked me to reformat it (I cancelled and ejected).  It responded similar to the Vista laptop (main computer) in that it was looking at the new hardware, saw it in Device Driver and Disk Manager, but in this case, it did not see it as a drive in Windows Explorer.  It shows up as a healthy drive and "working properly" on both PC machines, but I am unable to access it.

Also, when plugged in, the circle on the front of the hard drive blinks/flashes (once every 2 seconds or so).  The guy at Western Digital told me to run the SMART diagnostics they offer on the website. I did, the quick test failed immediately I was too overwhelmed to do that extended test yesterday, but I can try today if you think it will help.  

I feel that the data is there, I just can't get to it.  

Before posting on ex-exch, I searched the database. It was recommended that I do a check disk (I know it's a bad idea if the drive is failing because it can make the drive fail faster, but at that point I couldn't even access the drive. I was hoping the check disk would allow me to access the drive and then pull the info onto the laptop and I could let the drive die in peace, so I did it.  

Now, I can access the drive but looking at properties, it says it is empty. This can't be true, is it?
When I look at the drive in Windows Explorer (My Computer) it gives different information (392 gb out of 465gb free).  If I right click on the drive and chose "properties" says 100% free.  I believe that 70gb would be approximately how much data I had's a 500gb drive, so why would there only be 465gb free?

And finally, I don't know if this matters either, but since the autoplay no longer comes up, the drive icon (in windows explorer) doesn't show up as the little blue WD icon, it's just a hard disk.  Just another weird thing I noticed.

So, does this change anything? (probably not)
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Ok...after all that babble, I forgot to mention that I don't know if I will be able to hook up the drive to my motherboard.

Right now, I have a Toshiba (vista) laptop, MacBook (not that familiar with it, it's the hubby's) and an ancient Dell (xp), no easy access desktop available.

I do not care about the warranty!! Akahan is right, I really just want the data!! So, I'm sure it's simple for you guys, but if anyone can explain to me how to crack open the case and connect it to my laptop (I've replaced the hard drive in my laptop before, so I can open the whole thing up no problem, but I don't know where I would connect the second hard drive)

Thank you so much!!
Off to get more coffee and await a reply :)
you'll have to look for a pc with a sata cable
how to crack it open: use screwdriver and hammer (softly)
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Thanks, nobus!
I'll see if I can go to my parents over the weekend and use their pc.
Assuming that you can get it connected to your parents' PC, and the PC recognizes the drive, I would strongly consider downloading and running Spinrite on it.  It can take hours, but I've personally been witness to it working miracles in cases like this. 
OH, and sorry, you had mentioned that you wanted some ideas for backup software.  I like Norton Ghost; Acronis is also very popular.  You might also want to consider backing up to the cloud, rather than to a physical backup drive (so you'll still have your data if, for example, your house burns down and takes your computer and backup drive with it)... Carbonite does a good job, is easy to use, and offers a free trial.  
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Couple of strip-down guides for the MyBook the first with links to other tools you can use for recovery

Best of luck!
well - i found that hddregenerator works faster, and in situations Spinrite locked up
My experience with HDDRegenerator (recommended by nobus above) has also been very positive.  I have used Spinrite more often, and so have more confidence in it, but HDDRegenerator is actually easier to use, somewhat faster, and more versatile, in that it can be run under Windows as you work on something else, while Spinrite "monopolizes" the machine while it's running.  HDDRegenerator is also about $30 cheaper.  Both come with a moneyback guarantee, however.  I would probably try HDDRegenerator first, and if that doesn't solve the problem, try Spinrite next.

JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Thanks, everyone!

I went and picked up a sata wire today, so I could head to invade my parent's house tomorrow!

I just found out that I have an eSATA on my laptop...but I can't get the SATA to connect...I'm guessing I need a different connector?

If I could do this all on my own laptop, that would be great!

So, can I? I'll run back to the store if I need to....

eSATA just means "external SATA".  The connectors are electrically the same, just shaped differently.  The problem you'll have is that your laptop doesn't have a way to POWER the drive; the eSATA cable (like a SATA cable) just makes the data connection.  

To solve:  If you open up the external enclosure for the WD drive, you should see that there are two cables connecting the drive to the enclosure.  The SATA cable, and the power cable.  Unplug the SATA cable from the drive, and connect the drive to your laptop's eSATA port using the eSATA cable you're about to buy.  But keep the power cable from the enclosure connected to the drive, so the drive gets power from the enclosure as usual.  (So all you're doing is bypassing the enclosure's Sata-to-USB capability).   Make sense?
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Thanks, akahan!

I got what you are saying, except for one thing (or is it two?)... what you said makes sense, 100%, except that my configuration is a little different.

When I opened the WD hard drive enclosure and disconnected everything, the SATA cable was connected to a small green circuit board that also had the power connection and the USB(B) attached to it (The text on the board says Western Digital Galaxy 1U CR SATA and then a bunch of numbers).  I can disconnect the SATA from the green circuit board, but as for the other end (where it connects to the hard drive) the power and the SATA are all part of the same piece of black plastic thingy. It's a solid unit, so if I disconnect the SATA going into the hard drive, I disconnect the power also.

Also, I'm not sure if this matters, since I can't seem to power the drive at this rate, but the SATA data cable I purchased earlier today goes from SATA to SATA. You are saying I need to go back to the store and buy a SATA to eSATA cable, correct?

I can't believe how difficult they make it for me to even figure out if my information is available!! :(


JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hmm..does this mean anything?

I just Disk Management again and I see that the disk is formatted as FAT32, as opposed to NTFS. I just opened the MyBook and used it right out of the box, is FAT32 any clue as to why I can't see the drive contents?

I plugged it in (nothing different from earlier today, still connected w/ same SATA and USB connection b/c I can't figure out how to power it if it isn't connected through there, and it is still showing as having no data on it when I look at it in Disk Manager.  When I look at the drive in My Computer, I see it has 392gb free out of 465.

How annoying that they use a single connector.  That will certainly make it difficult to power the drive from the enclosure while not using the enclosure's sata connection as well.

At this point, your option would be to obtain another SATA to USB enclosure for your drive (they're very cheap), put your drive in it, and connect that enclosure to the USB port on your laptop.  If the problem is the WD enclosure, everything will then work fine.

For maximum flexibility, you could get an enclosure that accommodates your drive, and which will connect to either the USB *or* the eSATA port on your laptop, like this one:

These enclosures, like your WD enclosure, come with A/C adaptors, so you plug them into the wall to get power to the drive.

If you put the drive in another SATA enclosure, and get the same symptoms, then at least you know the drive is the problem, rather than the enclosure, and HDDRegenerator would be a good next step.  

And, you'd have a spare enclosure available for when it comes time to do some backups.
Windows works with FAT32 just fine; the fact that it's formatted as FAT32 would not in any prevent you from accessing the contents.
Sorry, meant to type: "would not in any WAY prevent you from accessing the contents."
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Thanks, akahan!

I kinda thought that was the case about FAT32, but thought it was worth a shot.

It is killing me to wait that long, but i will order from Amazon and wait until Tuesday for it to arrive. I'm so annoyed, but I don't thin they have anything at Radio Shack, Best Buy or Staples (the only stores around here).

Thanks for the software suggestions too - I"m going to pick up something online so by the time this is fixed, I can hopefully back it all up.

I'm not ready to give up on this data...

When I did the check disk /f, it told me any repaired photos are in a file called "found". I can't see it from the My Computer window, but it found it if I look at my trial version of File Recovery. It's a folder called found with a whole bunch of files in it (that end in .chk I think).  Not sure what to make of this.  
Is there a way to see if there is hidden partitions or files anywhere? There are about 70gb of "lost" data that the computer says is not it has to be somewhere...
If I can, I wanna go straight to hddregenerator and letting it'll be worth it, I think...


Generally what ends up in "found" is useless fragments of files.  Typically this occurs when the FAT table (the table that tells the operating system where on the physical disk each file begins and ends) gets corrupted...sometimes  due to bad disk media, sometimes due to turning the machine off while it's in the middle of writing files to disk, etc.  The system thinks that some parts of the disk which are in use actually are not in use, and vice versa.  It's unlikely you'd find anything much useful in there.  After running HDDRegenerator or similar, you'll probably want to run chkdsk /f again, to check through the file system and fix what it can.
the easiest is doning it on a desktop, not on a laptop imo
if you want an eSata cable :
it may be easier to use this usb adapter (for the power of the drive)
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
You guys are awesome...this is so helpful. I'm definately learning a lot,even though I was once again tears and pulling my hair out yesterday at the thought of not getting this photos back.  My brother in law reminded me that there are worse things in the world that could be wrong, he is right...but right now, I'm on a mission!

I am about to order parts, but I just thought of something else before I checked out.  What if I pull the enclosure off my other MyBook (the one I was trying to copy to when all this happned) and use that to see if it is my enclosure that is bad, not just the whole hard drive?  If I do that, I can check it today rather than wait until Tuesday?  Does this sound like an OK idea? The power cord and connections appear to be interchangeable...

JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Ok...just to make sure we are on the same page and I'm doing the right thing:

My hard drive is no longer not being "seen" or freezing My Computer/Window Explorer - I can see it (listed as Drive E: but it does not do the usual sequence of AutoPlay pop up or show that it knows it is a Western Digital Drive).  When I click on the drive, it shows as "empty".

When I view it in Disk Manager, it shows as Healthy with 465gb out of 465gb free (it is a 500gb drive).

When I go to My Computer and view all the available drive (laptop hard drive, DVD/CD drive and My Book) it shows a summary of how much space is available on each drive.  Here, it says that there is only 392 out of 465gb free.  Just so I understand, does this mean that the computer sees that there is information there, but just can't read it properly?

As I mentioned before, I did a check disk /f on it and it put all the files into a folder called "found".  The found folder had the fragmented files in it - which were approx 16gb (I think, I would have to double check).  That still doesn't amount to the 70gb that is "used" according to My Computer.

Is there anything else I can do?  At this point, the recommendation is that I get a new enclosure (I am going to do this today via amazon) to check that it isn't the enclosure that is causing the issue.  Then, once I check that, it is recommended I use HDDregenerator (or the other one if HDDregenerator if that doesn't work well).  My main concern here is that it will "find" only the broken "found" files and nothing else. Is that possible? Not that I have much choice.

Right now,I would gladly pay to have this responsibility off me! I feel like each step I make I'm screwing it up more (esp since there are so many road blocks along the way).  I just don't trust Staples or Best Buy. Why can't you guys live in NY? :)

Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate the help!
fyi HDDRegenerator does NOT run on USB drives -t that's one of the reasons i've been suggesting to connect it to a desktop
>>  I feel like each step I make I'm screwing it up more   <<  i know the feeling - it comes because of no experience in this matter, and no parts, or tools available

FYI -  if you can make an IMAGE of the drive (it does not write to it) then you can use that on another drive to experiment, so you loose nothing by trying
try the free paragon backup and recovery :      
i've found it doing it's job well
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Thanks, nobus. That info helps a lot about HDDregenerator.  

I think my biggest issue is no power (since the SATA and power are connected together) to the drive when I connect to the will there be power when I connect to the desktop?
Actually, HDDRegenerator DOES work on USB drives...I used it on one just yesterday.  It just works faster (and, in some ways better) on a drive that's connected straight to the motherboard.

When you connect to the desktop, there will be a power cable from the desktop's power supply that you can connect to the drive, and, separately, you'll connect an esata cable from the desktop's motherboard to the drive.
on a desktop you have always spare molex power connectors, or you can free one up, and use a split cable, so yes there you have power
akahan -  i'll test that right now - what version did you use (maybe i have an older one)

and best wishes to all - Happy NEW YEAR
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Just a thought ...

Although connecting to a desktop is the best way to go now you have the drive container opened there's another simple route to power the drive for your laptop connection.  Having removed the drive from its USB adapter connect the data cable to eSATA and then use the power adapter on the MyBook to supply power.

You'd probably need an extender cable like this

And this relies on you being confident that the power supply to the enclosure isn't part of the problem.  This would mean for $5's worth of cable you can hook it up to the laptop but again the idea of removing the drive and connecting it directly is to exclude any part of the MyBook drive enclosure from being part of the problem with communicating with the drive.
Nobus - I have the current version of HDDRegenerator.  
YES, certainly you can swap it to the other mybook enclosure!  
yes - but what version is it?  it is not posted on the site
nobus- it's version 2011.  The timestamp on the executable, hddreg.exe, is 10/19/2010.  Hope that helps!
when i start mine, it says  ver 1.7 (if my memory is correct
that is what i want to know
All mine says is "HDDRegenerator Version 2011"
probably newer then
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone - thanks for all your comments. I'm still awaiting the parts from amazon. I've tried Radio Shacks and Best Buys in the area (only stores around) and no one had what I needed. The holiday delayed the I'm kinda stuck...waiting for a power supply.

I ended up getting a new enclosure (the vantec one mentioned above)...hoping that will solve the problem.  I was going to switch out my old enclosure with the working enclosure on my second MyBook, but then I realized I have some valuable info on that hard drive (which is why I was trying to merge all the info in the first place...which I know wasn't the best way, but at least all my info would have been in the same spot).
So, after having almost the entire 2nd MyBook apart, I thought it would be best to just close it all up and wait.  

The plan to check out the desktop at my parents was foiled by a change in their plans, but if all fails with the new enclosure (and with the way things are going, it probably will), my brother-in-law said I can swing by his place this weekend and use his desktop. he said he definitively has SATA ports (with power) available.  

Masqueraid, thanks for the info. I am waiting on the enclosure, so I'm going to try that first, but it's good to see the work around. Lessons learned for next time :)
post results
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Update (sorry for the delay, I just got the package today and set up as soon as I walked in the door).

I connected the new enclosure to the hard drive and put it back together.  When I connect it, it connects but all I see are two folders.  Recycle Bin and "Found". Here is the info that displays:

MyBook Info:
Capacity: 499.98GB
Available: 421.37 GB
Used: 78.61GB on disk

Recycle Folder has 33kb of data (one file: desktop.ini)

Found info:
Size: 17.61 GB on disk for 10,000 items
Where: /volumes/mybook what now? I've been so determined to test the USB connection and get it connected to a desktop or latop, that I forgot what I might have to do.

Can I re-run check disk or will that screw it up more?
What sort of data is on the drive?  Pictures?  Documents?  Something else?  It sounds like the tables that Windows uses to keep track of where files begin and end, and what files are on the disk, got trashed, so it can't find your files...but the raw data is most likely still there.

I would recommend not doing anything (like chkdsk) that tries to fix things (at least at first), as it might make things worse.  Instead, I'd try some file recovery software that doesn't depend on the pointer tables being intact or correct, but rather searches the entire disk looking for recognizable data.

One that does a decent job (there are many) is Recuva ( ), and it's free.

Install it (on the system drive, of course, not on the failing drive), and then run it on the failing drive, making sure (1) to pick "Other" for the file type you're looking for (so it'll try to find everything it can) and (2) MAKING SURE TO TELL IT YOU WANT TO DO A "DEEP SCAN" when it asks.

It'll take a while...but it won't try to change anything on the failing disk, so it won't make anything worse.  If it finds files you want, you'll save them to a known good disk, rather than to the failing disk.

Give that a shot, see how it goes, if it doesn't work there are others.  But I'd hold off for the moment on HDDRegenerator, chkdsk, or anything else that tries to "fix" (rather than just "find") your lost data.

JenInNYAuthor Commented:
I started running recuva a few minutes ago...deep scan, as you suggested.  So far, it's stuck on the first screen (Scanning for deleted files, current progress 0%) for a while now (about 15 min). I'm wondering if I should cancel and re-start?

I read some stuff on how if the master file table is corrupt, there is no way to get the data back without spending of $1000s of dollars. Is that true?

Also: I noticed something. Last night, when I posted, I had to plug the external (in the new case) into my mac becuase my pc laptop is acting sketchy and I might have to rebuild (one of the reason for trying to back stuff up ASAP before all this happened)
That is when I was able to see the "found" folder and the info that there is 499 Capacity but only 421 free.

When I plugged into the pc this morning, I had different information.  The "found" folder was not there. I could see hidden folders that the macbook put on there for bootup (with little to no data in them).  The drive, when connected to the pc, is back to what I saw earlier in the week.  Only 465gb capacity and 392gb free (72 used).  I know this doesn't help much, but I'm hoping that somehow, this means my data IS there and I can get it?

Connecting it to a Mac was not something I would have foreseen you might do.  That would have made yet more changes to the drive, oh well.

The whole point of using "deep scan" mode is to recover files despite the fact that the master file table is corrupt.  It is not necessarily true that if the master file table is corrupt there is no way to get data back; this is exactly what programs like Recuva are for.  

If the drive is behaving exactly the way it did in the previous enclosure, then the enclosure was not the problem.   Have some patience with the deep scan mode, it can take quite a while.  (Perhaps an entire day for a 500GB drive.)   If it stays at 0% for more than an hour or two, though, I'd try another recovery program.

here some recovery soft links  - free, not free:      pc Inspector -FREE -            FREE  -  Recuva                        FREE Data Recovery                              Stellar                              GetDataBack                              Ontrack

also it may be worth trying this amazingly FREE service :
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
yea, akahan, I didn't forsee me connecting it to a mac either. Totally unplanned and I kinda panicked..

It's good to know that there might be a way to get this information off the drive, after all. Maybe I'm just being too optimistic...but my fingers are crossed :) I just keep getting beat down by this hard drive!

Ok. I left the program running while I'm at work - I'll check it when I get home.  

and remember in the future to backup in different locations
JenInNYAuthor Commented: this morning the drive was "stuck" while running Recuva (as I mentioned above).

Before I saw the response, after about 30 min, I clicked cancel and it showed a bunch of files (looked like all .jpgs with names like Image001.jpg, but I don't remember exactly) and they said recoverable.

I figured this was a good thing, so I exited out and ran the wizard again.  I left it to run all day.  I'm home now, it's still running.  The pop up window still says it's at 0% (which is what is said this morning when I clicked cancel and found that it did find some files).

So...I guess I'll wait it out overnight?
If the disk seems to be accessing (disk activity light is blinking irregularly), then yes, I'd let it keep running.   If it's still at 0% in the morning, I'd cancel out, recover the files it's found so far to another drive, and then try another recovery software package like one of those identified by nobus.  They work sufficiently differently from one another that where one might hang, another might sail along.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Ok...I def. will do that...

FYI: light is flashing fast and quick....but not irregular. Consistent. Mean anything?

Thank you again for all your help...
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Just got a quote from a company that said this:

Your WD hard drive has bad sectors due to degrading heads or media and needs proper imaging using professional tools and possibly head assembly swapped from a donor. Any further attempts to read disk with Windows software may result in more data loss and severe head crash.
We can give it a shot but there is a chance after all the actions data is now overwritten permanently.
Data recovery in your case requires a lot of experience and use of class 100 cleanroom and specialized equipment; we could do it for $590. This quote will never go up. It's a final invoice price including all parts, cleanroom fees and labor. Evaluation is free of charge. At any time you can cancel the job and we will ship the drive back to you at no charge in its original condition. We guarantee full confidentiality of your data. And of course we won't charge you anything unless we recover your data.
If the drive is not making any strange noises, and nothing has changed in the past few days, I doubt very much that it has mechanical problems; it seems much more likely that it was unplugged, either from power or from the PC, in the middle of a write, so that what it was writing got scrambled.  If $590 doesn't mean much to you, then by all means send it in and have the professionals deal with it.  I would go with , they're usually the most cost-effective.  But if $590 is a lot of money to you (it is to me!), I'd continue with what you're doing, until it's proven fruitless, and then consider whether I want to spend the money for the data recovery specialists.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Believe me, I work for a non-profit and we get paid in breadcrumbs...$590 is a lot for me :)

Thanks for the reassurance...I think I needed to hear that I'm not killing my drive by running recuva.

No guarantees, but it doesn't sound like it.
try thesee guys for a quote first :                        data recovery Company                                 "           "                   "
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Ok...some good news (finally!). Those data recovery people are not gonna get my money (yet!)

Recuva ran all night, stuck at 0%. As suggested, I stopped it this morning and recovered the files. It found approximately 1200 files (mainly photos, a lot of duplicates though...which is weird).  They are not coming through with the correct file names and the path is unknown, but I really don't care...if I get them back, I'll sort 'em myself :)

I really wish I could stick with Recuva, super easy to use, you both recommend it, and it had really great reviews online.  Unfortunately, my laptop keeps stalling at 0%, so I am going to try a different software.

I looked at the list nobus posted - any suggestions on which to try next? They are all brand new to me. I'll look at some reviews online while at work and try and figure it out.  At this point, I'm willing to pay for recovery software if it will work better :)

Thanks again guys, I really hope this is almost over with...I feel there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel...

"here some recovery soft links  - free, not free:      pc Inspector -FREE -            FREE  -  Recuva                        FREE Data Recovery                              Stellar                              GetDataBack                              Ontrack

also it may be worth trying this amazingly FREE service :"
Stellar  is using a different approach ) that may help
Getdataback is known also for very good - but both not free
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Also some suggestions...I've been doing software Data recovery for some time.  If you are not pressed for time...and can afford to wait a tiny bit, shut down windows and shut the system off.  Let the drive cool down and wait a day....or half a day...and try again.  I've had to do that a few times on a failing drive.  Bad sectors.  First few times I got nothing.  Drive would halt on me.  So I let it sit for a few days....and then rehooked it back up and was able to grab most if not all of my customer's Data.  

There's also the "Freezer" trick...but I wouldn't suggest it unless you have exhausted EVERY LAST bit of resources and you are at the final tid bits of getting what you need and you feel there is no hope/alternatives.

Since the drive is showing no signs of mechanical failure, and if you have time, I'd try another free one next, like PC inspector.  Again, pick the option that sounds like "thorough", or "deep" scan.

It makes total sense that it is finding the files, but not the filenames; this is consistent with the theory that the index is what got trashed.  So rather than there being a table telling the operating system where each file begins and ends, as there normally is, there's nothing... which means the recovery software has to go from the beginning of the disk to the end, looking for the patterns of characters that are typically found in the first sector of a JPG, or a Word file, or an Excel file, or what have you, and then assuming that a file starts in that location.  No matter what you use, it'll most likely take a good while.
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Also another decent program:

It is free and has worked well for me in the past.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the recommendations and the advice.  I understand now why it can't find the names and stuff.  It makes sense and I really don't mind losing that info if I can get the data back!  
I also don't mind waiting...Recuva makes me think it is "stuck" because it won't go back 0%, but it's finding info apparently. It bounced back and forth saying it needed 33 days (what??) down to 9 hours and back up to 10 days then 28 days to complete it.  
I feel so much better now that it found some files (even though there were 4-5 copies of the same file). I didn't have that many copies, but they were pictures I had totally forgotten about. I'm really hoping it finds my quicken and work files :)
I'll keep updating as I know more....
did you get a quote yet from the 2 companies i linked to ?
you know ther's always a risk when you keep running recovery softs that the "plague" spreads
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hi nobus,

I didn't try one of the places, but I did get a quote from gillware. The woman was very nice and understood the problem but said she wasn't sure if I was "Tier 1" or "Tier 2". She wrote " estimated standard service fees will be $350-$500. Typical recoveries will take 6-10 business days. There is also a 50% chance that this case will be classified as a Tier 2 recovery with estimated service fees of $500-$1200"

Not ready to go there yet....but gillware does seem very reliable.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hi again,

I kinda think someone is playing a big joke on me. I downloaded the demo of getdataback as nobus recommended. It doesn't see my drive.  It is formatted as FAT32, so I downloaded that version.
It didn't see it, so I downloaded the NTFS one, since I thought maybe I messed up.
It doesn't see my hard drive OR my external.
what the heck? Cruel joke.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Oh wait. Forget that. I'm a dummy and forgot to run as admin.
Please ignore :)
Did you try PC Inspector?
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
not yet. Downloaded it but might try next. This is running better recuva but so far it keeps giving bad sector errors :(
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
getdataback islisting many I/O "error 23" - Keeps going to not responsive.

Looked into PC Inspector but even though I told it what drive to search, it would not allow me to go to the "next" section. Will try again when I'm a bit more awake..
If you're getting bad sector errors, it's probably time to try HDDRegenerator.  It will (hopefully) fix the bad sectors, and you'll then be able to (again, hopefully) run one of the data recovery programs without all the delays and interruptions.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
ok....will try it next...running out of steam...recuva actually recovered some files, so i had high hopes :)
did you try the free service i posted??
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Also remember to give the drive a break sometimes.  (however that could be a hit and miss situation as well).  Again having done HDD data recovery many times in the past (only software recovery, don't have the tools for hardware recovery), sometimes you have to either 1.  keep at it while it's up and spinning (cuz sometimes it won't spin up), so you gotta keep at it and not give it a break.
2.  Sometimes you have to give it a break because it is overheating and is not performing like it should let alone getting anything.  (sometimes a day or two break).
3.  Sometimes plugging it into a different device.  USB(sometimes differet USB ports/enclosures/converters), direct Sata/ide to motherboard connection, firewire, esata, etc assuming you can get your hands on some of those things.
WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
4.  And last but usually when you've done all you can, is to do the freezer trick. (I won't post instructions here because it should be a last ditch effort, as this ca ruin the drive completely.)
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your help and assistance. I'm still kinda stuck. The drive has been at my brother in law's house.  I thought it was safer there since I kept hitting road blocks.  Of course, as soon as he plugged it in, it started a check disk and he couldn't stop it. Long story short, the drive is still busted and my info is still on the drive (70gigs worth).

He tried Recuva...let it run for two days and it got to 13% and then stopped. Showed him the files that were missing. He plugged in his extra hard drive to transfer the files and windows ejected my drive (connected via eSATA).  So, he started again. he's going to let it run for another day, recover what he can and then we will try HDD Regenerator (as you guys suggested). I think another one was suggested too, but I'll have to scroll back up and see which one, I think it was sprinnite but I'm not sure. I don't mind paying, but I just wanted to exhaust my options. I even brought the hard drive to my brother in laws brand new super computer so I wouldn't have to worry about my laptop being the issue.

Anyway, thank you all for your help. I don't know if there is much more you can do and you have answered everything so patiently, I really appreciate it. When I try the recuva/HDD Regen and it doens't work, I"ll start a new question :)

I'm off to a meeting, but when I get back I'll go through this thread and accept answers...thank you so much!!


WakeupSpecialist 1Commented:
Good luck, keep us in the loop.  IF you need to keep this question open you don't necessarily need to open another question, you can leave this one open and keep us updated and we can keep giving feedback as needed.
IF you would like.
Hopefully HDDRegenerator will get things to the point that you can use Recuva (or similar) to recover your files.
jenny - did you try the free recovery service  i posted?
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
hi nobus,
sorry I didn't respond earlier. My drive has been at my brother in law's house on his new computer running there. It was running Recuva, it got to a certain point and stopped.  Brother in law tried to plug in a USB drive to copy what it found windows somehow unbooted/ejected my drive. So, he started again. it got to the point that it was stuck for 2-3 days so my brother in law stopped it manually and was able to recover whatever files Recuva found (~5000 files, most old deleted files that I didn't want, but it's something...).
I picked it up this weekend.

I wasn't able to use the free service "" because although it sounded pretty awesome, I do not have a wired internet connection. It is wireless. One of the requirements is a wired connection, so I didn't pursue it.  

I am
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Sorry - hit submit too soon.

What I was saying was:
I am not sure what to do next. It looks like HDDregenerator is the beset way to go, but Ias suggested, I wanted to exhaust the options of recovery software first before I started fixing sectors and changing the drive.

Here is what I have tried so far:   - a few weeks ago it kept going non-responsive. Maybe try again? not sure if I am doing it right. it's a bit confusing.  - See my comments in response above. Worked for a bit then stopped. :(  - do not have wired internet connection, so not able to run program   - currently running.    (GetDataBack) -tried it, it found a lot of I/O Error 23 errors, then I think it went unresponsive.  - did not try yet.

you sure  work on it!
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
ni nobus...sorry, if I am confused, but work on what? There are a bunch of programs listed :)
i meant that you spent a lot of energy on it
I think he just meant that you are puting a lot of effort into this.   I'd go to Hddregenerator or Spinrite next, then back to Recuva and the like.  Currently, the recovery programs are all getting flummoxed by bad sectors, it looks like.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
ahhh....thank you both for clarifying. A lot of energy (and tears) but I also hate the idea of being ripped off by a data recovery service if it is something that I can learn myself. It's really irking me that it's not fixed yet :)

I let GetDataBack run overnight and, as I expected, it is not going well. Non-responsive, I try and end it and it starts working again, then stops responding again.  So,  I'm going to stop it and buy HDDRegen or Spinrite, as you suggested!


if the problem lies in the recording of the data on the disk, they surely help
personally, i like hddregenerator more, i found it faster, and it worked once when spinrite locked up
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Ok...bought HDDRegenerator and registered it.

I am back to using my laptop, so I am unable to connect directly to the computer. I'm using eSATA connection.  Earlier in the responses you mentioned that it will work with a USB drive. Do I have to switch to USB or can I use the eSATA?

I thought I could use HDDRegenerator on the external drive, but when I try and run it, it says it does not have exclusive access and to reboot. I do that, it still does not have exclusive access.  It says to make a bootable CD/DVD, I did that. I am not sure how to get it to access the external drive, not my laptop HDD, though.

Will it get any easier? :)
Thanks, Jen

Any suggestions? I thought eSATA would
Have you tried booting from the bootable HDDregenerator cd?
(If you do, you'll be able  to run HDDRegenerator but nothing else, until it's done and you reboot from your hard drive again.)

Alternatively, connect the external drive via USB.

>>  I thought eSATA would  <<  what?  make it easier?  NO -faster yes, but it has to be connected at boot, not like usb - unless your sata controller and device allow hot swap
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
I swtiched out the to USB cable and powered down. Started from the HDDregenerator CD
It ran until about 88mb and then it said "Hard Drive Not Ready".
I powered down and tried it 2 more times. Keeps stalling at same point with "Hard Drive Not Ready" -
Can you connect the drive in place of your system drive and boot from Hddregenerator cd?
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone -
Was unable to get hddregenerator to run. I think the drive it shot. I'm going to bring it to my brother in law's friend to see what he can do.  I think I've reached the end of my "do it yourself" limits. This drive is not behaving.  Thanks for the help. I'll update this question when I know more, in case anyone else reads and wants to know what happened :)
You may still want to try Spinrite; $89, but has a moneyback guarantee, and the company behind it (GRC) is VERY reputable, and won't give you any guff if you ask for your money back after trying it.
JenInNYAuthor Commented:
Just an update: it turns out my drive had about 2000 bad sectors and one bad head.  Recovered as much data as possible.  HDDregen didn't work for me, but I think that was due to my set up. They gave me a refund.  Thank you everyone for your continued help. I appreciate it more than you know. You guys are great!

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JenInNYAuthor Commented:
all solutions by other members helped me figure out what to do. All very helpful. Ended up getting drive looked at by someone else and they confirmed there was physical damage to the drive.
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