Help - can't read data from failed hard drive - what can I do?

BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelp used Ask the Experts™
I have a hard drive with lots of data I need. And of course I didn't back it up (well, I did 2 years ago).

Any tips?  When I connect it to a win xp PC (would win 7 make a difference? it was on an XP machine) with a USB enclosure / SATA -> UBS adapter, the drive spins up.

sometimes, the drive management sees the drive, gives it a drive letter, says it's healthy, but doesn't show that it's NTFS.

when you go to that drive letter in windows explorer, it says this drive isn't formatted. do you want to format it now?

one time when I connected it, I got that autplay? window where it scans the drive.  it hung in the middle.

I tried sticking the drive in the freezer, but same results.

Every few seconds, you get a faint clunk.

I tried recover my files and easus data recvery wizard pro. the easus app ran for a while, started copying files with the names file000.___ to a different hard drive.  but those files were different sizes but all had the same square character.  I searched that folder for the letter a and it didn't find it! so those files weren't worth much. and I stopped the process.

Do I want to (try to) repair the partition info or get the files off?

I hate to admit it, but this is the 2nd time I';ve had this problem.  2 years ago I had to spend $2K to have a clean room get the data back.  Think I'd learn?
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I think you should learn, yes :)  Been there myself, but only with my own personal data...

There are 2 possible ways I know of to go about fixing this.  From the sounds of the "clunk" you mention, the drive itself is faulty and it's not just a case of fixing a bad header block.  Or maybe it is.... dlethe may have a better idea.  The easy way (if it works) would be to get hold of trinity rescue disk, boot from CD and try to copy the files off.  If that doesn't work and you basically can't get the drive robotics to work, then one thing that worked for me (a few years ago when drives where big and clunky) would be to get hold of another drive of the same type, open both up, and swap the disk platters.  Head or platter damage in the process isn't a negligible risk in doing this, but it should get around any issues with the drive motor spinning at the appropriate speed or the heads being able to be aligned & positioned correctly to read.
Data recovery costs have come down over the past few years

A typical recovery now costs lesss than €500
IT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009
Don't panic. Connect it to PC where the system detects drive as unformatted. Then use GetDataBack (select the version of file system you had NTFS or FAT32) and scan the drive for data.
Or use R-Studio Data recovery software:
If these tools fail to recover the data due to drive damage then yes, the only way is professional lab like
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Top Expert 2012
I would advise against opening up the drive - a single speck of dust can cause a head crash.  The more you work on the drive, the less likely you will be able to recover data from it.  If the data is important, pay the money and have a professional data recovery service handle it - is recommended.  Putting your drive in the freezer is not a good thing to do, given how easy condensation will form and crash your heads.  Gillware published a video on what happens inside when you do that.
had a bad experience with gillware, but yeah, I may have to pop for one of those services....

The freezer trick?  I tried it with no luck.  I'm taking it a step farther - it's in there for a few hours.  Now I'll take the laptop and SATA => usb and plan on running the drive IN the freezer to see if I can read things.  

back in a bit.
OK, plugged in a laptop with usb cable coming out of freezer.  Drive made loud clicks and laptop didn't recognize it.

Moved it into fridge and power cycled the drive.  came up as D drive, but when you click on it in win explorer, it says it's not formatted, do you want to? I say no.  Under drive management, it shows up as healthy (yeah right) but without the ntsb indication that the c drive has.

Any thoughts on where to go from here? I'm going to try getdataback, but I did that earlier at room temp and didn't get anything - just lots of errors.

Data recovery firm recommendations anyone?
Top Expert 2012
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009
If GetDataBack fails - get to data recovery company. This is the only way.
Top Expert 2013
i would connect the drive directly to an IDE or Sata cable  -to avoid possible USB bridge problems and slowness
then run the free trial of HDDRegenerator on it, and check if it finds & repairs the first sector; if yes, buy it abnd run the full version :
I had GetDataBack running overnight with the drive in the fridge.  Came down this AM and the machine had rebooted overnight to apply patches!?

Started GetDataBack again, came back in just a couple hours and it had the directory tree.  I'm having it copy the data to another external hard drive (not in the fridge : )

Checked the first folder and there's actually data there (Easus, I think it was, got back file000.___ and they were all blank.  GetDataBack is keeping the file names.

it's a 1 gig hard it will take a bit to move it all....

I like that HDD regenerator!  Once I see what I can get with GDB, I'll experiment with this one.  Today's looking a little brighter (that first folder doesn't have important data - I debated getting the important files only, and then go back for the less important.  I opted for all.  Yeah, the drive's failing? so I don't really have the time.  But the moron  side of me is saying 'get all of the files'.  that's the side that also said - 'don't bother backing up'  : (
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

But the moron  side of me is saying 'get all of the files'.  that's the side that also said - 'don't bother backing up'  : (
LOL =)

Good luck
Top Expert 2013

we'll see you again soon - if you don't backup, i think
another question related to this, if you guys want to comment:
and another related to getting data back, this time from a system reimage:

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