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Hard Drive Partition Unreadable

Posted on 2012-04-09
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
I am attempting to troubleshoot a hard drive that appears to have gone bad.  I removed the drive and using Acronis to access the drive via an external usb connection.  The drive appears in windows with a drive letter but no drive letter in Acronis and the status is Healthy and active.  In Acronis the file system is reported as Not Formatted.  It takes a long time for this to finally appear in Acronis or windows explorer.  Recovery Expert does not appear to detect any problems.  Is there a better program to use to attempt to recover the disk?
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Question by:ws11
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37823604
I forgot to say that there is another partition that is readable which is the recovery partition.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 37823620
Getdataback is by far the best recovery utility available. You can use the trial version to scan the system to scan the disk, but when you want to actually copy the data off, you will need to register the tool with runtime.org:

http://runtime.org
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37823708
Great thanks for the suggestion.  I was hoping I could repair the partition to be able to read the disk does Getdataback have that ability?  I would really like to clone the disk or get an image that I could restore from.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 37823846
No, but trying to repair is the worst option you have, as that writes to the disk, and any writes can make things worse. It is better to leave the disk as is and just read the data from it, and that is what getdataback does. Even better would be to do a raw copy of the disk and then try to get the data from the copy, but that needs a further disk of at least the same size, and isn't always successful.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37824946
As rindi noted above, you do NOT want to do ANYTHING the writes to the disk.

The #1 rule of data recovery is STOP.    Do NOT do anything that writes to the disk -- don't boot from it;  don't copy anything to it;  etc.     GetDataBack (and virtually any other good recovery utility) will "obey" this rule -- they will refuse to recover data to the same disk ... you have to provide another physical disk for them to store the recovered data.      There are several good recovery tools, but the two best ones are GetDataBack and OnTrack's EasyRecovery Pro -- but the OnTrack product is quite expensive, so I'd go with GetDataBack.     There is a "Lite" version of EasyRecovery that's about the same price as GetDataBack ... but it restricts your recovery to 25 files per session -- a real pain for any serious recovery. [http://store.krollontrack.com/fiche.html?REF=721771 ]
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37825131
Using GetDataBack the program can not identify the file system type.  So the NTFS partition is not being identified.  The fat partition can be identified by windows.  What does this mean as far as the method to use to recover with?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 37825165
If the File-system on the HD was NTFS, then you need the NTFS version of getdataback for recovery. If it was FAT, then you need the Fat version.

Internal Windows Disks are normally using the NTFS file-system, External USB drives usually use FAT32 as that is compatible with other OS's, not just those of M$. Depending on that you will have to decide which GDB version to try...
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37825195
Active Partition Recovery may help -- I've seen cases where it could restore a partition that other recovery tools didn't "see".    http://www.partition-recovery.com/

If the drive is connected to another system running Windows, the Windows version is fine;  otherwise you'll need the bootable DOS version.    As with other recovery tools, you can download it and try it for free -- but it will only SHOW you what it can recovery and not actually do the recovery until you buy a license.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37825783
How about HDD Regenerator?  The free version of Partition Recovery for windows will not scan the drive.  I did not want to pay if it does not work with the bootable disk version.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37825797
HDD Regenerator is like Spinrite => it MAY be able to "regenerate" bad sectors through statistical analysis;  but otherwise is not a file recover utility.    It certainly won't hurt to try it if you have a copy -- if it happens to recover the bad sectors that contain the partition info the disk might "magically" be readable.

Just remember that it violates the #1 rule of recovery -- by writing to the disk.    It is, however, like Spinrite, very "safe" in this regard, as it's only rewriting sectors that were otherwise unreadable.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37825806
Doing a prescan with HDD Regenerator I get bad sectors all the way accross so far.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37825808
Sorry I did not see your post.  I don't want to violate the rules so should I go ahead and pay for Partition Recovery then.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37825812
Not necessarily --- if the free version doesn't show anything is recoverable, then it's likely that you can NOT recovery the partition.

If HDD Regen is showing all bad sectors, the disk is most likely not recoverable -- at least not without professional recovery services.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 37826329
I agree with the above, if the trial scan using getdataback gives you no result you shouldn't bother registering the tool.

As HDDReg shows you so many problems also it probably won't be able to do any good (apart from that, in order to actually do the regeneration you would also have to pay for it as the trial version only allows you to repair one bad sector at a time, having to restart the tool for every bad sector would probably fill your time up for decades, and also the payed version will take very long, depending on the size of the disk).

If you really didn't have a working backup of the data you will have to go for a professional recovery agency. One of the best is supposed to be Gillware:

http://gillware.com/
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37826617
Get a copy of R-Studio http://www.data-recovery-software.net/ and try to scan the drive with its recovery feature.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37831996
I have been running HDD Regenerator.  I could not boot into SpinRite.  I bought a copy of HDD anyway since I thought it might be good to have on hand for my other computers.  It has been running for more than 24 hours and it has covered 450 or so sectors.  This is a 750 gb hd.  So that does not sound good.  Does this further indicate this is a done drive that has no recoverable data?  Thanks for everyones freedback.
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LVL 87

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 37832137
Professional Recovery Agencies can probably extract the data for you, it's just very unlikely that you'll be able to do that yourself. If the data is worth the price I suggest you contact such an agency and ask for a quote. Many (like Gillware I linked to earlier) also have a policy where they don't charge you if they can't recover the data (this means that it is very likely they actually can do the recovery).
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37832139
Actually that does indicate nothing. HDD Regenerator tries to write/read it each sector and if successful goes to the next sector. This can take much time plus heat your drive.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37832167
What do you mean "heat your drive"
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37832171
If you mean literal heat as in temp what can I do about that?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37832564
The software spins the drive all the time and moves the heads in order to read/write the sectors on the plates. This raises the temperature of the drive. That what I meant by heat. Set some ventilator working on this drive - or cooler. If you decide to let HDD Regenerator work further of course.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37833837
Given what you've tried to date, it's almost certain you will NOT be able to restore the data on this drive.    A professional data recovery company MAY be able to -- either with specialized firmware or by mounting the platters on a special recovery platform in a cleanroom.     This is NOT inexpensive -- Gillware (mentioned above) is an excellent company with very reasonable (by data recovery standards) pricing ... and they start at about $478 -- and cost appreciably more if they need to use the cleanroom.   They DO, however, have a "no recovery, no fee" policy ... so it costs nothing to send them your drive and find out if they could recover the data.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37837404
I appreciate everyones help.  I decided to stop the HDD Regenerator for now since it was taking so long.  I did a search on Seagate ST3750630AS 7200.11 and found that the bios tends to be a problem.  Is that something I could update myself?  It appears this site sells something for this but not sure it is a risk in purchasing it.  I will continue to search as well.

http://www.hdd-parts.com/10120302.html
http://www.hdd-parts.com/se72re.html
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37837472
Do you want the drive back functional or just data from it?
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37837503
Please tell me about both scenarios.

Here is the Seagate bios link.

http://knowledge.seagate.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/207951en
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Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 250 total points
ID: 37837527
If you want only data from this drive then it is best to let professionals do this by calling local data recovery shop. I recommend you trying your luck with this guy: http://freedatarecovery.us/ Completely free and professional.
As for the drive to be again functional - there is no guarantee that changing the logic board could fix it. You will spend $50 for nothing as a result because you need to know exactly what is the culprit in your case. As the drive is seen - I doubt that logical board is the cause of the problem. Could be simply corrupt file system or physical damage of the plates as well.
Of course updating BIOS a good try, it is free and when done properly you loose nothing. So it is really up to you to decide.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37837826
I said bios I ment firmware.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37837916
The firmware update link for Seagate noted above is for end users => this firmware makes some improvements in the drives (they had some reliability issues these updates address, as well as timing issues when used in RAID arrays) ... but it is NOT the same as specialized recovery firmware that is installed by data recovery specialists.    That specialized firmware bypasses the normal ECC code and drive mapping tables and directly accesses the raw sector data, regardless of error state -- it can then be processed by specialized software that MAY be able to read otherwise unreadable sectors.

You've detailed enough to know that IF there is important data on this drive, you should be sending it off to a data recovery specialist before doing anything else that may reduce the likelihood of a successful recovery.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 37837921
Yup. I used your wording not to mix you. I see nothing bad in upgrading firmware of the drive. Just do it carefully.
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Author Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37837943
Seagate will not assist.  The drive is from a Dell desktop and the drive is oem.  They said this drive was not covered by the firmware issue as well.
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Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 250 total points
ID: 37837975
Not surprised by Seagate's comments ... as I noted above, the firmware updates were to provide fixes for very specific problems that some models were having -- if your drive isn't one of those models with the specific firmware revisions that were having the problems, then there's no benefit to installing the different firmware.

In addition, the problems you're having (many bad sectors) wouldn't be helped even IF you had one of old firmware revisions that were corrected by Seagate.
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Author Closing Comment

by:ws11
ID: 37838003
Thanks for your help.
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