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HDD Disaster Recovery

Posted on 2013-05-14
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Let me start off with saying that I have a fairly thorough backup plan in place for such instances; however, due to circumstances out of my control, I was not able to perform my incremental backups for roughly 1 week, so reverting to my backups is not an option at this point for the data I currently need.

With that said, I just recently returned home from a trip where my laptop was damaged in transit.  The screen was cracked beyond use and I am awaiting a replacement that should arrive within the week.  What I am currently trying to do is mount the laptops's (Sony Vaio E Series) Seagate Momentus 2.5" 1TB SATA HDD (runs Windows 8) as an external, using a Rocketfish RF-HD3025 Drive Enclosure to capture my files and continue working until the screen has been replaced.

After securing the drive in the enclosure and attaching the drive via USB 3.0 to a Dell Laptop running Windows 7, I am unable to get the drive to mount.  I have done some preliminary searches on the web and have run across a few instances where the jumper pin is to blame; however, this HDD did not come with a jumper pin, so I am tenatively ruling that out for now.  I can guarantee the drive is fine.  No clicking of any type, and the drive has a nice constant motion.

Has anyone else had any issues mounting a HDD like this before?  Any ideas on how to proceed with recovering the files?
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Question by:Steven Harris
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by:ScottCha
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Do you have a desktop handy do you can directly connect the HD to the SATA cables and access it?

If you can do that, then you can copy the data to a flash drive then transfere it to the laptop you are currently working on.

Even if you don't have a PC, maybe a friend can let you try this on his computer.
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by:BigPapaGotti
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I've had some luck getting the drive to mount when booting off of  a Linux CD such as Ubuntu. From there I was able to copy the files to some other media for recovery. Even though the drive is not ticking that is not to say the hard drive is not damaged. A true test would be to put the hard drive back in the computer to which it belongs and run a diagnostic test to see if the drive is seen as well as to see if the test passes/fails. Since it was damaged in transit and the screen cracked this could be enough of a "drop/impact" to damage the hard drive making it unusable.

Best of Luck
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by:dlethe
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Well, here is the deal.  Professional data recovery for $500 or so is pretty much a sure thing of  100% recovery.   Your HDD did experience excessive Gs and that WILL cause damage.  You could have a tiny bit of ferromagnetic material just hanging on ready to fly off and crash the heads at any moment, and that could mean loss of all of your data.

Nobody can tell you if this will or will not happen, and there is no software product on the planet that will decrease your odds of this happening.  That is why recovery labs have $250K or more worth of equipment and take disks apart.

So it comes down to risk management.  If the data is worth thousands of dollars, turn off the HDD and take it to a pro.  If it is worth less than approach your answer in the same way you decide if you pay for a $1000 or $250 deductible on your car insurance.   How lucky are you?
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by:thegu99
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Agree with dlethe....if your data is important to you, don't mess around with it.  power it off and take it to a pro data recovery firm that you trust or at least comfortable with.
Repeated pwr cycling, holding drive while spinning, repeated access attempts, all can lead to minor issues developing into the dreaded "non recoverable" platter damage.
Momentus drives are notorious for having heads issues anyway.  Even not being subjected to shock trauma.  Just sayin'.

If your data is not that important and you want to work on this yourself, then I would do the same as Scott and bigpoppa recommend and attach to SATA controller directly to a desktop PC that I am familiar with and boot to Linux and see if anything can be accessed.
If not wanting to go Linux boot, and drive can be recognized in Windows, then I would go for GetDataBack right away and start copy good data to a different working drive.
GDB - http://www.runtime.org

Good luck and hope it works out for you.
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by:dlethe
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One more thing, since it "appears" to work, and the damage was a drop, then recovery could end up being rather inexpensive.  All they would need to do is take the HDD apart to physically inspect for damage and to mitigate risk.  Doubtful they will have to go to any extraordinary effort.

So you might end up just paying $200 or so.  Because of that reason, i formally change my answer to just turn it off, and find a LOCAL data recovery firm that has their own equipment onsite, tell them it was a drop and appears to be OK, and ask for an estimate.  If they don't offer a free estimate based on the likelihood the HDD is OK and you just want to do a lab-based recovery, then find somebody else.

But please do not be tempted to power up the HDD again, at least not before getting some quotes and deciding it isn't worth the money.
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by:Steven Harris
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Hey guys, thanks for all the input so far.

Where I sit now:

The best quote I have received is $1200 up front with a 50/50 chance of file recovery.  At this point, the files are more of a 'want' than a 'I'm going to die' scenario.  I can recreate all of the files from backups of course and build up from there; however, like everyone, I am still looking for that "one button solution".

SO, with all of that said, I am to the point that I will continue trying to extract the data instead of shelling out the cash (call me cheap).

Just to keep anyone who is interested still in the loop,  I will post a follow-up shortly.
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by:garycase
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Murphy, of course, guarantees that "...  a fairly thorough backup plan ..." will never help, since any problems will occur when you're NOT backed up.    "Fairly thorough" is kind of like "almost always" wearing a seat belt -- guess when you'll have a bad accident !!

Having said that, since the drive seems to be physically okay as near as you can tell, I'd connect it to an internal SATA port ... USB bridge devices are usually okay;  but a native port is always better.    If this was a pre-configured Windows 8 laptop, the drive will also have a couple of other attributes:  GPT formatting, and a Secure Boot partition structure (this shouldn't impact accessing it -- you'll just need to be sure you're looking at the actual OS partition).

I'd connect it internally, and then see what Windows Disk Management shows for the partition structure.

r.e. data recovery companies => Did you contact Gillware?    They're very reasonably priced by data recovery standards (start ~ $400);  and have a "no recovery, no fee" policy.   You may want to get an estimate from them, just in case an internal connection doesn't work.
http://www.gillware.com/

If the drive is "seen" by Disk Management;  but the partition structure doesn't look right, or you can't access it;  then you can try some good data recovery software ... GetDataBack;  Easy Recovery Pro; etc. all have free demos that will show WHAT they can recover without requiring a license purchase [You do, of course, have to buy the license to actually do the recovery].
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by:pgm554
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If the screen is doa,have you tried an external monitor on the laptop?
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by:dlethe
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$1200 and 50-50 chance???  Let us know who they were so can tell people to avoid them. I  question whether or not they even do the work themselves, and say flat out they are trying to screw you.
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by:thegu99
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I also agree with dlethe...sounds questionable.  Heck for $1,200 up front, I will recover the data for you and give you 80-20 chance of recovery.  :D
Like dlethe said, should only be a couple hundred or so for a recovery.  Assuming the drive is functional and there is nothing mechanically wrong with the drive.  A mechanical rebuild on a Momentus could go up to the quote price and I've seen some go beyond even that depending on other factors.  (encryption, size, OS installed, etc.)
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by:garycase
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When you say, "... The screen was cracked beyond use and I am awaiting a replacement that should arrive within the week "  ... are you referring to a replacement laptop;  or a replacement screen?

If you're just replacing the screen, BE CAREFUL ==> you do NOT want to alter your drive in any way or it may not boot correctly on the laptop once you've replaced the screen.

If that's the case, you should do as suggested above:  just connect an external monitor to the laptop and use it like that ... or, at least boot up that way, and if it boots okay, then copy what data you need to another system until you get the replacement screen.
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by:pgm554
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Sometimes you just got to point out the obvious.
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by:Steven Harris
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Internal SATA is a no-go.  My older systems cannot detect an OS.

I am able to locate the drive in Disk Management; however, the drive shows as a 7.28TB drive, which leads me to believe there is some other type of error going on.

$1200 quote was from GeekSquad, which we all know to avoid anyways for our own reasons, but they are the only ones in my area willing to look at it soon.  I have a few more places to check about 50-60 miles drive from me, so I will follow up with those places as well to see what they say.

I have already tried the booting to a monitor scenario; however, with the Win8 OS, only the main screen will show the login screen (for password input) and obviously I can't see where to move the cursor to select the password field.  I can hear the startup sounds; however, switching projector options from the login screen is not possible, even using the built-in [Fn] + [F9].

Let me define "fairly thorough" in my terms:
I have a 3TB NAS which is setup to perform a full backup every Sunday @ 10pm.  Each evening @ 10pm after that, I capture incrementals.  This goes on until the following Sunday, in which case the last full backup and all of the captured changes form the week is archived.  Every 4th Sunday, the full backup will begin to overwrite the oldest archived data.  So in essence, I have a 3 week hold on files.  In my current situation, I was unable to capture my Friday-Sunday full backups due to being in transit (it would have kicked off as soon as I got booted up since I missed it) and it "crashed" during transit.
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by:dlethe
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Geeksquad????  They send that out to somebody who sends it to somebody else.  No wonder.

What is your closest major city?
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by:garycase
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Your backup protocol is fairly complete -- the only missing element is the "what to do when in transit" part.    And since damage to laptops is FAR more likely when on the road, that's an important element that shouldn't be overlooked.    A simple 32GB/64GB/128GB (depending on your needs) USB flash drive would serve nicely for capturing "on the road" incrementals :-)

(or, a bit less convenient, an external hard drive like a WD Passport)
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by:dlethe
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I concur with Gary.  In fact, when I go on the road, I always do full backup, AND carry a portable HDD with image backup in case my macbook dies. I came dangerously close to having to buy another laptop in Seoul last year to get me through a consulting gig when my laptop died, but was able to get it repaired that evening.  If they couldn't fix it, I would have had to buy another laptop then and there.  [Other moral is name brand with international support so worst case, you'll be down 24 hours in whatever country you are located]

But I tell you, I wouldn't know what I would have done if I didn't have that image backup, they would have been within their rights to get their money back.   Having a local backup is well worth the $200 investment. I can't quantify that enough.
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by:pgm554
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What does the system BIOS see the drive size as?

You aren't using a USB external device are you?

I wonder if it needs to be an EFI BIOS?

Look at this,it appears as if Sony might have a special function key tied to the hardware that allows for the drive to be seen.

http://www.overclock.net/t/1321845/sony-vaio-uefi-bios-windows-7-8

http://askubuntu.com/questions/150174/sony-vaio-with-insyde-h2o-efi-bios-will-not-boot-into-grub-efi

Saw this on Dell Inspirions with media center in the past.

Maybe a call to Sony is in order.
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by:Steven Harris
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Hey guys, I just made a huge leap.

I was able to get the PC to recognize the external monitor and after about 100 "click > type password > hit enter" sequences, I was able to get into the PC and switch to the External montior.  Files are backing up now.

Now for the fun part.  HDD is in working order, so why will it not mount to another system?

I wonder if it needs to be an EFI BIOS?

I think you may be on to something...  I am going to keep trying until I see what I can find out.  After the files are backed up, I will keep playing to see how to bypass all of this mess for future reference.
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by:pgm554
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Sony over the years has done it's best to confuse and frustrate its end users and those of us forced to support their product.

It would not surprise me in the least that Sony has a proprietary hardware/software combo that is causing this issue.

I NEVER recommend their products because of the horrible tech support and the proprietary drivers you are forced to use (especially video).

They do make great looking product,but cosmetics is like shine on a bumper,you want it do what it was designed for in the first place.
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by:garycase
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As a minimum, get everything backed up; and change your backup strategy to incorporate "on the road" backups :-)

You dodged a bullet this time -- with a good backup, there won't be a next time :-)
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by:noxcho
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1)Connect the drive directly to PC SATA port. USB3.0 could be a problem

2)Make sure that system on the machine you connect the drive to is not Home edition. Must be Windows 7/8 Enterprise or Ultimate for Win7.

3)If the laptop has only screen damage then put the drive back to laptop and connect an external Display to laptop and try to start the machine. Does it boot? If not then boot the machine from Paragon Rescue Kit Free and try to browse the partitions.

4)The UEFI has nothing to do with 7TB size. Seems like the error with logical board of the drive.
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by:ScottCha
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Most likely if it mounted and you are able to copy the data off the drive should be able to be connected to another computer successfully.
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by:Steven Harris
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Issue is still ongoing.  I have been able to backup the files via the original pc conneccted to an external monitor, but the HDD will not connect to any other PC by any methods.
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After 7 months and tons of phone calls with Sony, I finally landed on an answer while I was talking with a Tier 4 Techie.  While I was happy to have finally figured it out, I am surprised this didn't come up a lot sooner...

The Vaio model I ordered came with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM).  Essentially, the HDD was encrypted the entire time.  While it was away form the hardware based security key, it could not be accessed.  The fix was even simpler:  I was able to export a copy of the security access key and .exe to a USB.  When I move the HDD to another system, I insert the USB and run the installer, which decrypts the HDD and then mounts it to the system.
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by:garycase
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Ahh -- of course.    Looking back through your thread your comment at http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Hard_Drives/Q_28127382.html#a39166863  should have triggered us all as to what was happening.   Since the drive worked perfectly in the correct system, it was clear there wasn't really anything wrong with the drive ... which SHOULD have made me (or somebody) think about encryption !!   Definitely gave me a slap-on-the-side-of-the-head moment when I read your last comment.    Sorry I didn't think of that way back in May when your post clearly gave us all the right clue :-)
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by:Steven Harris
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@garycase,

Trust me, I feel the same way (or worse) considering I didn't realize what was happening on my own system!

When I originally purchased the system, it was a factory order through Sony Business Services for an employee.  The part I had missed was the TPM (which is apparently standard through Business Services).
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by:Steven Harris
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Solved by contacting Sony Support.
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