BIOS recognition of a damaged hard drive

I have an  IBM laptop whose HD crashed.   I have another open question here on EE, and am getting good advice re: recovery programs  However, these cannot work unless the HD is recognized by BIOS.  So my quesion is: how do I determine whether the BIOS recognizes my drive?     I am slaving it via a powered sata_>USB adapter to my desktop computer, which is a server.
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RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
One other things: Should I connect the damaged hd to my laptop and boot to BIOS and see if it recognized the HD? This would be preferable.   Also, I have Ult Boot CD, but don't know how to use it.
Get rid of the USB bridge, because the BIOS is actually talking to the bridge chip, which are never designed to work properly (nor can they be) when the disk isn't healthy.

Crack open the case (easy, just download the manual and it walks you through it, may only be a few screws), and you can plug the disk into a SATA or IDE controller in another computer.  

Then you will know for sure.  Unless it sees both the make/model/serial, AND a capacity other than zero blocks, then you need the guys in bunny suits and $500++

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RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the clarification.   So you're saying I can open up a Lenovo T400 and find a SATA connection?  Or do I need to do this on my deskop (server)?    

Now, once I plug in the drive, how do I activate the BIOS?  Do I just reboot the desktop computer and hit F8 (or F11)?
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"via a powered sata_>USB adapter "
Not a case but an adapter? right...

Then The drive (if recoverable ) will show in Computer Management & can be recovered with such software as ( Get Data Back )
No.  Direct attach. These USB adapters do a protocol conversion.  They make the disk emulate a SCSI device.  The BIOS is not talking to your disk drive directly ... ever.  There is no direct translation of many SCSI to ATA commands, certainly not diagnostic ones so you can never deal with a questionable device if a bridge is in the way.
After reading your other questions suggestions:

I see that you tried to refrigerate (freeze) your drive...
Thats probably the end of it, as this has caused moisture to enter the drive.
Cooling or heating a drive can help with recovery?... but only in a dry room environment.

Additional info.
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
Michael- I realize condensation can happen, but I have no other options that have worked.    Will the moisture destroy the data even if the drive is taken apart in a clean room?
Freezer trick?   Really now. This is an act of desperation that is right up there with trying to find a magic leprechaun to fix the disk for you.

Besides the symptoms don't indicate that there is a sure-fire problem with the media.  You might get away with a $200 repair instead of a $750 repair.  But throw the HDD in the freezer and you very well could have a $500 repair.

Get a free estimate from a professional recovery firm, and if $200+ is to steep, dispose of the drive and save some grief.
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
Yes,. it was an act of desperation.
With drive at room temperature, it is not read by the computer.
After putting it in teh freezer for a few hour, it is always read by the computer.  But after running for 5 minutes, it becomes unrecognizable again.  
What am I supposed to conclude?
I did take it to a professional computer tech.   I had the hd in a styrofoam box w/ blue ice.  I pull it out, he plugs it in, and it's read.  After five minutes, computer no longer recognized it.

He thinks it might be a controller card, in which case I would purchase a used identical drive.  He didn't know if soldering would be necessary, or whether the drive has connectors.  I'm wondering what everyone thinks about this option.    

I appreciate your sarcasm.   If none of the options work, I'll leave the drive out and hope the Great IT Pumpkin comes to fix it.
replacing the logic board did work for older models, but does not anymore afaik, since it contains the drive layout
that said -you are free to try -  but be sure then to have the same model and firmaware level
It is probably the controller card, which means it won't be as expensive.  Take it to a pro.  Many major cities have data recovery firms.

Note - one just does not replace logic boards and spin it up and expect it to work.  That computer "tech" is not a data recovery professional.  Take it to somebody who knows what they are doing.
"Michael- I realize condensation can happen, but I have no other options that have worked.    Will the moisture destroy the data even if the drive is taken apart in a clean room?"

The data stays on the platter(s) untill overwritten or pysically or magnetically damaged....the retries to read the drive can cause pysical or magnetic damaged.
Better to go to a data recovery professional before the drive is weakend / damaged further.
You must decide is the data worth the $$$ to try.
Some data recovery services offer no charge for no recovery, so good luck & I hope you have success.
here some links, ask for their fee, and  policy :                        data recovery Company                                 "           "                   "                     "           "
You can test it using the trial version of get Data Back
That's what this is for to recover from a non functioning drive
and so far it works for me.
I tested it on half doz old drives non functioning, and I had packed up in bubble wrap from systems that we threw out but kept the drives
Get Data Back is well worth buying. Reasonable price.
To get round the fat and ntfs I bought an external USB Enclosure case that has the switches.
You pull out this draw and plug in the right connector for the drive so all will fit into the USB
My joke is,
 it kinda makes the old obsolete drives really encrypted no one can access them unless they have this kind of tool.
Just posted about this as well here
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
I actually own GetDataBack.    I just don't quite know how to use it in this particular instance.   From a practical standpoint, I cannot easily get into the computer on which GDB is located to hook my drive directly to a sata connection.   What would you suggest?
Buy another sata controller board that you can connect to, or take the disk to a desktop PC.  Bottom line, you'll never be able to properly diagnose, let alone fix, a HDD if you can't talk to it.
yes I understand, I didn't want to start pulling off the side case either no need to.
I bought this external enclosure case that has both IDE and Sata connectors.
the stand is optional I just lay it on the back.

It's very simple
it has a draw that pulls out you insert your sata HDD and use the sata connector to connect
the drive
then plug in the power from external enclosure to an outside source, so you may need an extension cord for the power
 then plug in the USB cable on the PC USB and the one on the external enclosure
I managed find a reasonable guide how to
Tutorial: How To Slave A SATA Hard Drive Via USB
Then open Runtime Get Data Back go next  it will show the drives connected
and point it to the USB drive or second drive not your main drive
Runtime step two what it looks like
Here I took a photo of mine,
see the power cord no need to use the internal power from the PC at all
Note also the two cables.
 I have pulled the draw out all together you can even leave it like that
It has a power switch make sure it is turned off so there is no spark/arc when connecting it.
I didn't include the USB cable supplied in my photo I forgot to put it with it, still in the box
 but refer to tutorial to see that.
The yellow cable under the red is the IDE.
It will all make sense when you buy it
Power cord for external enclosure
Amended comment
you need a  2.5 external enclosure usb 2 for laptop sata
same as mine but includes a 2.5 adapter
you'd need to contact the store for details on a supplied AC outlet with this external enclosure
I actually couldn't find one with an AC plug.
But will look again
Here's some I found to give an idea, those that dont have AC you can buy a separate ac adapter if needed.
some seem to get the power from the USB directly.

Connect any SATA or IDE drive to your computer's USB port
- Perfect tool to duplicate, copy, backup, or transfer large amount of data from one drive to another
- Use your 2.5"/ 3.5"/5.25" IDE hard drive or SATA hard disk as an additional external hard drive
- Supports Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/MAC OS9.0
- High-Speed USB 2.0 (up to 480Mbps) data transfer rate and backward compatibility USB 1.1
- Support ATA66/100/133 addressing mode and compatibility ATA1.1
- One Touch Backup function
- AC Power Adapter Input: 100~240V, 50/60Hz; Output: 12V/2A, 5V/2A
- 1.8"/2.5" IDE female connector
- 3.5"/5.25" IDE female connector
- 2.5"/3.5" SATA female connector
- Package included:
- 1 * USB 2.0 to SATA / IDE Adapter with Power Source Port
- 1 * Power Adapter (100~240V AC)
- 1 * Power Cord (US Plug)
- 1 * IDE Adapter Cable
- 1 * Driver CD
- 1 * USB to USB + USB 5-Pin Y-Cable
- 1 * English User Manual
 gets the power from the USB directly.
i avaid recovering date over USB at all costs
reasons :
1-it adds an interface (usb bridge)
2-it adds a software protocol
3-it is MUCH slower than connecting directly to Sata, or IDE cable
4-not all software can talk to USB devices
@ Nobus you may avaid recovering data over USB at all costs
however it is just fine from my own experience.
Using 400 gig to 930 gig external drives.
As per my screenshot above.
On the 930 gig or 1 terrabyte it takes only minutes to scan.
It depends on how much data is in the HDD I suppose.
No software was installed with this external enclosure I use either.
Also no one uses USB 1 anymore so it has speedied up a lot with the scans if that is where you are coming from.
 Get Data Back manual stipulates either slaved or USB2 as well. And recovery works the same as internal drives.

It is also a good way to test if the drive is accessible and RaiderNationDelegate owns Get Data Back already and states it is difficult to put his laptop drive inside this computer where GDB is installed.
So USB 2 is a good option.
merete - i post only my opinion, you are entitled to yours

You are not a hardware expert.  Please pay attention when others who understand hardware say the asker needs to connect the drive directly to a controller and not through an adapter.  Understand your own limitations in this and learn from people who know, instead of throwing in advice which does not apply - the symptoms have been hashed over again and again.  Someone already had recommended freezing the drive, doing more damage in the process, and someone else recommended trying another controller board, which may introduce more damage if you don't know what you are doing.  In the past, I have tried to steer you away from topics which involve more than rudimentary knowlege, so help the question askers by recognizing your own limitations.
Merete - I concur with the other hardware experts.  Your advice shows no understanding of the difference between a damaged hard drive, and a damaged FILE SYSTEM.

The author has a damaged hard drive.  One does not and can not diagnose behind a bridge that does a protocol and data conversion.  You are not talking to the hardware.

Now if this was a damaged FILE SYSTEM, then a USB would be slow, but your advice would be valid on using getdataback via USB.
gees is this an attack or what lol, lots of testosterone boosters here.
The difference between file system problem and hardware.
Bad platters no spin and corruption. I know what that is.
Who doesn't??
I cannot believe how you all just throw in the statements.
If you want a private conversation please do so dont type in public domain. .
I speak from experience/
Freezing a drive is an insane idea who said that?
  dont put me in that conversation.

We are attempting to determine if it is hardware or file system
so please all you experts
refer to Raiders last comment>
  From a practical standpoint, I cannot easily get into the computer on which GDB is located to hook my drive directly to a sata connection.   What would you suggest?

Stick with question.
Merete - we already know that the first barrier IS the hardware.  The file system is certainly going to be corrupted.

Now I only have 20+ years as a storage architect, designing diagnostic software, RAID controllers, writing firmware and such for companies you probably have in your office, and have NDA developer agreements with many of the controller and subsystem manufacturers.

Your information IS incorrect, and information you have put on this thread can result in permanent data loss.  

I am not politically correct at times, and have no problems if a moderator wishes to delete or edit this in any way.  I also welcome the opportunity to have a private chat with you to explain the technical reasons why your advice is incorrect and dangerous.  

To be blunt, you know enough to be dangerous, because you can run an off-the-shelf product that can fix up a file system.   But you do not consider the stress of such a job, and the obvious-to-hardware-experts that your software isn't talking to the disk.  It is talking to a SCSI target device.   Vital error-related data is not translated, so the software won't get all the information it needs to make a correct decision.

Example, assuming that the hardware is fully online, and the filesystem is merely corrupted, have you assessed whether or not the hardware is likely to even survive the process?   Do you know if an unreadable block is supposed to be unreadable, or if it is timing out, so the recovery software is making the correct decision?   If the retry count is high, but data is readable, then the FS recovery loses data forever.  No going back.

The CDBs for READ/WRITES and ASC/ASQ bytes that the SCSI target device returns serially don't translate to the 16-bit feature, sector, cylinder, error , device status, and other registers that disk which speak the ATA protocol use.

As such data IS LOST in the translation, vital data, and the software does not have what it needs to make proper decisions.

Of course, this is just a small sample, but hopefully enough to understand that you are in over your head on this topic.
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
Hi Folks-
Let me interject here.

First of all, I want to thank Merete for the thoroughness of some past questions I've had, many of which centered around video editing.    You routinely put a lot of time with thoughtful, comprehensive answers that have, at the very least, provided a broader understanding of software issues.  So  thank you.

But I also greatly value the advice from people such as Nobus, dlethe, Callandor, Michael_Best, etc. who  have a deep knowledge of inner sanctum of OS, firmware and how these interface with hardware.    In all fairness, Merete, this question is related to another one that they also spent a lot of time on.    

The issue is finding a non-destructive way to test the hard drive.  I'm concerned that the advice I took on freezing the drive may irreparably destroy the data.  Because the data is important, but not priceless,  I'm trying to exhaust reasonable option.    I've used (and own) Get Data Back.   However, from what dlethe, etc are saying,  this is a file system utility that is probably ineffectual here.  Were it not the case that damage to the drive can happen with each attempt, I'd be more open to trying it.  

What's obfuscating all of this is that freezing the drive DID generate a different result by revealing the existence of two partitions on the damaged drive in "My Computer".  So now all that's left is getting into the partition that has been to this point inaccessible.   When I (and the tech I took it to, who connecdted the drive directly with SATA, incidentally) right click on the drive, it goes into an infinite loop.  

So the question is the cause of this loop and whether it suggest damage that can only be remedied by a hard drive surgeon.     So, yes, I guess I'm hoping for some sort of magic remedy.  But it seems clear that, under the circumstances, no such tool exists given teh type of damage.

Anyway, I'm going to look into which company to send it to.  If there are any suggestions for a last try, I have the drive frozen (I tried to create a vacuum in teh baggies to prevent condensation) and am willing to hook it up one last time.

Thank you all very, very much for everything....

My dilema, as it were, has been to discern between varying opinions.
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
One other thing that I've asked before is whether anyone things I have a chance with UBCD, which would allow me to "slave" the HD directly to the laptop. IF you think this has any merits, I'd need to know exactly how to navigate UBCD.  If this is viable, let me know and I'll post another question.

Thank you all again for your patience.
ZERO chance - UBCD is a linux distribution with a bunch of open-source stuff (and arguably pirated software).  It can't talk to the hardware any more than windows can.
Most major cities have HDD recovery companies. I live in the DFW area, and is great.  24x7 drop off & free estimates.  All work done onsite, and they have the proper equipment.
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
I called LowCostRecover and they said it SOUNDS like a head issue.  They're cost is $499.   Do you know how this compares to 24hourdatarecovery?
Every deal is different, but your problem is pretty off-the-shelf.  If this was a partially reconstructed degraded RAID with a non-windows file system, then I wouldn't use either company.

My advice, is if a company is local, go with them.  You won't pay shipping, and won't have to worry about it getting lost or needing insurance.  Just make sure they can give you a free estimate, and find out if your current HDD has any warranty, if they destroy it so you can't at least get a warranty replacement.

In grand scheme, a warranty replacement probably isn't as big a deal, but the reason why you ask this question is to see if they do enough volume with Seagate and other manufacturers to see if they are an authorized repair center . That gives you an idea on how good they really are.   If they don't offer this, no problem,don't let it discourage you.   It is just something that proves a company is above and beyond the others.
If GetData Back used correctly does not work then a last resort is a data recovery service that can remove the platters & relocate them in an exact drive housing.

"I have the drive frozen "
Posted on 2012-09-08 at 02:29:43ID: 38377301
That is a bad situation....
Defrosting will cause further moisture damage (no solution possible to stop moisture during defrost)
Good luck with a data recovery service  is as good as I can suggest.
GetDataBack is a file system repair utility.

One must never run it on questionable, or in this case, known BAD hardware. (or in a disk that was in a RAID set, or a non-windows file system, or a lot of other situations)

 If the HDD was talking to the BIOS, AND if it passed diagnostics indicating excessive stress of I/O to reconstruct a file system was somewhat safe, then it would be a different deal.
"GetDataBack is a file system repair utility"

This is a data recovery tool that I have had 100% success with.
(even when the drive sounded like it was grinding metal)

Your possible chances were diminished when you froze the drive (sad but true)

You have had many opinions / comments to deal with, but the bottom line is that you have frozen the drive which limits /eliminates your options....
Good luck  (& a cometent recovery service) is your last chance.
Michael - feel free to talk to me offline about this.  I've got 20+ years writing HDD diagnostics, RAID firmware, etc, and have developer agreements with the HDD/Controller makers. I know exactly what getdataback is and is not capable of doing, and how it works.

Even using such a product directly on a "grinding metal" drive proves it.  Let's leave it at that.
No dispute with you, just my opinion...

Freezing the drive has eliminated most / if not all options.

The mechanical side / condition of a drive is my main concern.
I concur - at this point, the less you use the drive before sending it off to a data recovery company, the better.
dlethe you seem to be very knowledgeable on this, could help me and maybe inturn help others understand how I was able to recover my files off this 1 terrabyte drive
Here was my situation, This WD drive is called a My book,
Not realizing it was different from the other USB drives I have, I store all my video work on these drives.
It was different from the others in that it created some kind of Virtual CD rom drive whenever I plugged it in. Looking at this from disc management it was actually a small partition in front of the main partition which had all my data.
And is used to backup I dont know never used it never seen it before.

So after about 2 weeks the drive suddenly stopped functioning.
When I plugged it in windows reported in order to use it I had to format it.
Nothing I did would see the drive.
Was this file system problem or HDD problem or Partition problem.

Not wanting to lose my important video work I used Get Data back,  it also reported a serious problem did I want to continue.
I said yes and it scanned the other partition and low and behold all my stuff was there and dutifully recovered it all.
It had by passed this partition.
I then formatted it assuming removing the first partition and as you can see in my GDB screen shot
http:#a38365974 that secondary partition is My Book and I have never had a problem with it since.
As it turned out it was the first partition

Any insights may help Raider as well  myself as this is where I was coming from.
It intrigues me no end how why it runs okay now.
Regards Merete

For interests sake
 My Book loads today in Computer and still has this Virtual CDrom??
My Book and this CD romAnd also in Disc management and after I formatted the drive
Disc manager
Anyway, Merete - Ignore my previous response.  To answer your question, I really have no idea why w/o running some detailed diagnostics to provide insight into root cause.

The hardware "stopped functioning" for a reason.  Since this is a my book, then the drive will have to be taken out and connected to some software which can look at the last error codes, SMART pages, error logs, bad block tables, and a few secret-sauce things which are function of the specific make/model

I'll make an educated guess and you probably had a large number of unrecoverable read errors that caused the HDD to appear to stop functioning.   For most make/models of disks, then one can figure out the block numbers and possibly time stamps and last few commands that failed, their parameters, and error codes.  Based on the pattern, one could confirm root cause for some scenarios.

But, absolutely no way to do this w/o the hardware in the lab.  The software one needs to do this sort of work isn't available retail and most of it is built in-house.

This might explain the presence of the virtual drive on your MyBook, and why you had troubles with it:  It's there by design to provide encryption, it seems.
You guys are awesome thanks so much.
Now I have learnt something and hopefully Raider will to.
With this new knowledge and understanding maybe he can make a calculated decision as to the course of action to take knowing what the risks are.

The link you posted Callandor helped filled in some blanks thank you!!
Explains somewhat why the Virtual drive stayed after I formatted it.
I should state I did not format it windows did.

I just figured whatever was wrong with it must be the file system it was new HDD, however  windows wouldn't allow me to access it message was "must Format it"
If I may offer my thoughts.
 I had nothing to lose once I got my stuff and went ahead and allowed windows to do it.

Here in lies the key in my opinion, going on what I learnt from dlethe in this question, there is different methods in which a USB or slaved or secondary drive is accessed seen / written to within windows if the drive is healthy.
Here in lies the key.
My drive was healthy but the file system must have had some problem, or the partition/s table.
the point is I didn't rightclick the drive and format it as per a healthy partition,
as windows could not see the drive let alone access it.

When windows reformatted it it must have rewritten the partition header/s  ie
GUID Partition Table
 When windows can see the drive and read it it is scanning the data on healthy partition.
that's the danger dlethe was explaining.
If the data is bad or the platters bad runs a high risk of losing any chance of accessing the data.
The partition table header defines the usable blocks on the disk.
I believe I was lucky.
And I won't buy a My Book range for storage for this very reason.
It sticks a partition in front of the main partition.
If that has a problem then 2nd partition is not accessible.
I have used it now for near on two years without a problem go figure.
I definitely take your wise advise dlethe and thank you for the learning curb I'll award points now lol.

RaiderNationDelegate - i suggest to contact more than one recovery service; Gillware has a gaood fee/recovery  rata, and a good name; so don't stay tuned one one service
Really close, Merete - but let me clarify something important

If the drive is healthy then USB-attached is fine, since there won't be any error codes that will be lost or munged due to the vendor/product specific protocol translation from SATA/ATA -> SCSI target disk.   This is certainly root cause of all sorts of things like seeing a disk needs to be reformatted, when you might just have an unreadable block or several unreadable blocks next to each other that cause timeouts.

NEVER NEVER NEVER blindly just do a reconstruction w/o assessing the hardware.  Unfortunately to assess the health of the hardware you need to talk to it via the native interface unless you know for a fact that the software can deal with encapsulating the commands and you have a bridge chip in your enclosure that is capable of encapsulating, and the software supports that chip (odds are 10:1 against this)

Also, it is best practice to take a bit-level image of the disk with corruption and then work on that disk.  Better yet, use a hardware logical disk behind a RAID controller.  This will run faster and won't stress the busted drive.
RaiderNationDelegateAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for the great service...   I hope I distributed the points equitably.
glad to assist
Just happy to help Raider thank you...
Good Luck with it matey.
Regards Merete
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