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how can I backup or save data from a defective external USB harddrive?

Posted on 2013-01-24
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Last Modified: 2013-02-06
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

            Yesterday, I was alarmed to find out my external USB 256GB harddrive has become defective.  While I do have a backup of some of the end user files on the harddrive, there are many things which do need to be saved if possible.  Basically, the power light on the external USB harddrive does come on; I do hear a noise inside the external encasement which seems to indicate the drive itself is trying to load the data.  Unfortunately, it never fully loads the data; the drive letter for it never appears within the Control Panel of Windows 7.  

             In closing, I know I have merely outlined the actual problem which is before me.  If more information is needed, I will certainly reply back right away.  In the meantime, I truly hope someone can give me some suggestions or tips for saving my data on this external USB harddrive.  By the way, I have purchased a new 1TB external USB hardrive just in case there might be a way of accomplishing the goal of backing up the data on this harddrive.  If other hardware or software is needed, I will certainly purchase it.  That will not be a problem.  At the moment, my main concern is saving the data.  

              I look forward to hearing back from everyone regarding this very important concern.  

               Thank you.

               George
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Question by:GMartin
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Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 150 total points
ID: 38816425
First of all check if the problem is with drive at all.
Get to disk management via right click on My Computer - Manage - Disk Management.
These see if the drive is detected. If it is then right click on it and select Add or remove drive letter.
Select one from the list and assign it.
Does the drive get detected in My Computer now?
If not then try this drive on another machine. If no luck then open the USB case carefully and connect that diprive internally to PC mainboard free sata or ide connector (depending which hdd type you have) and go to disk management to see if it helps.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38816876
Hello

            Thank you for your quick reply to my question.  I have tried all of the suggestions with the exception of opening the USB case and connecting the drive internally to another functionally working PC mainboard.  If it would not be an intrusion, could you provide a multimedia link, prefereably a YouTube link, which demonstrates the logistics of carrying out this goal?   Unfortunately, the other suggestions given did not work.  

              Thanks so much in advance for any additional help given to this concern.

              George
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 38816897
Hi George,
What is the exact model of your drive?
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38816990
Hello

             I did take a look everywhere on the external USB harddrive, but, could not find a model number.  It is an older one because it uses a USB 2.0 interface.  

             I know this is not much help, so, I do sincerely apologize.  

             George
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Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 350 total points
ID: 38817674
george, post a picture of the drive  then, for exact suggestions
also - can you tell us if the drive is spinning? you can feel that by twisting the drive in your hand- you feel opposed force if it runs
if it is not spinning, there are little chances for recovery; you can try replacing the logic board, but it does not help in all cases
otherwise, if the data is needed, you need a recovery service, here some links :
http://www.lowcostrecovery.com/index.html                        data recovery Company
http://www.gillware.com/                                 "           "                   "
http://www.drivesavers.com/services/estimates.html                     "           "                   "
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 38817878
Take a photo of it with a handy or digicam and post it here.
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Author Closing Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38845176
Hi Everyone,

             Thanks so much for the feedback given to this question.  After looking at this external USB harddrive closer, I did notice that the harddrive itself never really spins up to read or write date.  Instead, it makes peculiar squeeking noises.  Normally, when I feel the external encasement, I generally notice it to be warm in addition to a smooth, but, mild vibrating sensation coming from it.  The external harddrive never becomes warm despite of the amount of time the external USB harddrive is on when it normally would warm up in the past.  

              Luckly, I had a backup of the most important end user files on 2 of my other computers which are not commonly used.  Since the external USB harddrive does not spin up, I decided to abandon the idea of trying save or backup the data on it.  

              George
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 38846198
send it to me- i'll have some fun with it...lol
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38846564
Hi There,

              Thanks for the offer.  I did find a YouTube video which illustrates the steps in disassembling it.  When I have some extra spare time, I will take it apart and tinker with it some.  

               Thanks again for your help given to this question.

               George
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 38846586
it'sq always nice working with you George
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38846976
Thank you...... You guys are so awesome : - )

George
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38853702
Hello and Good Evening Everyone,

                I am very pleased and excited to update everyone with some really great news regarding my interest in backing up or saving data from a defective, external hard drive.  First of  all, the hard drive itself was not actually bad.  Let me take a moment and explain.  Tonight, I disassembled the external USB hard drive by simply removing 2 philip head screws on the back of it and pulling out the hard drive.  Before pulling it all of the way out, I had to disconnect a tiny power chord which connected the hard drive to a small circuit board of the encasement.  Then, I had to disconnect the IDE cable as well which was interfacing the hard drive with the encasement.   After doing those things, the hard drive easily slid out without problems.  

                After removing the hard drive from the USB hard drive encasement, I then interfaced this drive with my main computer using a USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable kit.  By the way, this is an awesome kit which should be part of anyone's tech collection.  When I was about to set the jumper on the hard drive to Cable Select, I was alarmed to see one of the two pins corresponding to the Cable Select option was bent.  It was fairly easy to straighten this pin though using a tiny flat head screwdriver.  Since the encasement was never opened prior to this troubleshooting session, I have to naturally conclude this was an original manufacturing design flaw.  At any rate, once everything was connected and the hard drive set to Cable Select, I powered the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable; the computer's operating system, Windows 7 Ultimate, immediately loaded its native software for this hardware in addition to assigning a drive letter for the hard drive removed from the USB encasement.  
From there, I was able to backup the remaining files needed.
               
                I am so lucky I further pursued this instead of simply throwing away the USB encasement with the hard drive.  Apparently, it was not the hard drive at all.  Most likely, the culprit was a defective circuit board contained within the encasement which was independent, but, yet connected to the hard drive.  So, when the circuit board of the encasement became defective, it naturally caused the hard drive to stop working as well since it was interfacing with it.  

               In closing, I hope someone in the future finds this followup update useful if he or she should experience problems with an external USB hard drive and needs to backup their data.  If so, then, maybe this entire experience meant something.  At any rate, I am very happy this story has a happy ending : - )

             George
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 38853932
Glad you found the problem george!
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 38854089
Exactly how I suggested it in the very first reply:
If not then try this drive on another machine. If no luck then open the USB case carefully and connect that diprive internally to PC mainboard free sata or ide connector (depending which hdd type you have) and go to disk management to see if it helps.
:)
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38860864
Hi Noxcho,

              Thank you for bringing this to my attention.   I want to take a moment to explain exactly what happened here.  When I initially closed this question, I was under the strong impression the hard drive itself was bad given the symptoms given within this situation.  Luckly, I found out after the question was closed that the hard drive itself is just fine and good.  At any rate, I do hope you accept my apology for failing to investigate this situation at a more indepth level before closing this question.  

               With regards to the proper award of points and recognizing the accepted answer, please let me know what I can do to make this situation right.  Throughout my years of using the services of EE, I have and continue to believe in fair play.  With that point in mind, I am certainly willing and eager to rectify this situation in a way which is agreeable between Nobus, you, and me.  

                In closing, I hope to hear back from you regarding the necessary procedures to correct this oversight.  

                Thank you.

                George
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 38861126
Hi George,

Lets leave it as is. I am not a point hunter and we all are here just to help. Good deeds always come back to those who did them. :)

Have a nice day and take care.

noxcho
0
 

Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 38861958
Hello

              That sounds good then just as long as everyone is happy.  By the way, I am very impressed with what you had to say about doing good deeds.  Only if more people were like that in day to day life, this world would not be too bad of a place to live in.

               As always, I am grateful for to all of the participants of EE who are untiringly motivated and eager to help resolve concerns as they come up.  The attention to detail in addition to the insightful suggestions given always leads me in the right direction of resolving even the most complicated of computer concerns.  

               Thanks once again for being there : - )

               George
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