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Hard Disc Failure

Posted on 2013-06-19
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Last Modified: 2013-06-20
I have a Hitachi 320GB drive with Windows 7 that will not boot.  Connected the drive to another PC via USB adapter and only 1 partition pops up after about 1-2 minutes.  It is a partition labeled (System) with about 200MB.  At first the main partition would pop up after maybe 3-4 minutes...  I started copying files in a desperate attempt to save the data, but the partition disappeared after a while and I got "write delay failed....  etc.). After that, the partition is not showing up at all now.  Obviously the drive is failing, but...

My question is: is this a logical failure or a mechanical one?  Should I waste my time with software recovery tools or just seek a hard drive professional recovery expert?
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Question by:john_square1
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by:
aadih earned 200 total points
ID: 39259738
(Recommend): Seek a hard drive professional recovery expert.
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by:Thomas Grassi
ID: 39259779
In the future get yourself a usb external drive and copy all data to that drive as a backup.

This way if you loose your hard drive you will not have to worry about an expensive recovery process.

sounds like a logical failure a recovery should work.

When  you boot to the bios does the computer see the drive listed ?
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 200 total points
ID: 39259790
Purely a hardware problem.  If you value your data you need to cut power to the disk and take it to a recovery firm.   Be prepared for something in the $750 range.   But most recovery firms offer free estimates.  

I suggest you look for a LOCAL recovery firm with 24x7 walk-in service.  Most major cities have them.  This tells you they do the work with the right equipment onsite, instead of sending it out and marking it up.
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by:rindi
ID: 39259802
Use the manufacturer's diagnostic tool on the HD, it will give you more details on it's state. You'll find those diagnostics on the UBCD:

http://ultimatebootcd.com
http://pharry.org/data/ubcd524.iso

Also, don't run the diags with the disk connected via USB, most of them don't work that away, and besides, they add a further point of failure. Connect it directly to a PC internally.

Depending on what the diags propose, replace the disk, then reinstall the OS using the recovery media you made when you got the PC, then install a good AV utility and run all Windows updates. After that restore your data from your backups. Or if the tool offers to repair any bad blocks allow it to do that. Then try booting the PC with your HD again (it will probably be necessary to run a chkdsk /f /r too).

You don't need to do any recovery if you took your backups seriously.
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 200 total points
ID: 39259816
I respectfully disagree with Rindi.  You have all the information you need.  Your HDD is doing deep recovery and has unreadable blocks.  Diagnostics will tell you the same.

But the diagnostics will also put HDD in additional stress.   The chkdsk will also write to the drive and make data recovery impossible for any blocks that it changes, and also risk catastrophic drive failure depending on whether or not small pieces of ferromagnetic material is flying around inside the HDD.

There is nothing to be gained by running more tests and everything to lose.
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by:kadafitcd
kadafitcd earned 100 total points
ID: 39259864
I agree with dlethe.  If you have any information that you Have to have no matter the costs then stop where you are and take it or send it to a Recovery expert.  The more the drive is on and spinning the more damage you are doing and the less likely your data will be able to be recovered.
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by:tmoore1962
ID: 39260276
Sounds like a Hardware failure specifically a thermal problem, if you have a stay dry pack ( little package that comes in the HDD ./ DVD / MB antistatic bag to prevent moisture you can try this trick  put drive in a resealable plastic / antistatic bag with the staydry pack put in freezer for several hours remove drive and connect immediately to your adapter, you may be able to get the data off before the partition disappears again as you describe what seems to be a thermal failure on the drive
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Author Comment

by:john_square1
ID: 39260428
I tried the "freezer" trick.  Didn't work, but good suggestion--I've seen this mentioned elsewhere.  I tried Prosoft's Data rescue3 to no avail.  The program hangs when this drive is attached and won't even open.  I have removed the drive and will have to send it out for recovery as suggested.  Fortunately, it is not my data!  My data is imaged to external drives with Acronis, but trying to get customers to do this is hopeless.  Now he will need to fork over 700.00-2000.00 bucks.  Maybe that is how I can convince him to back up his data!!  Thanks to all for the suggestions....
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by:dlethe
ID: 39261423
The freezer trick? (I would have told you by the symptoms it would have been a waste of time, and I assure you this technique made things worse)

Rule of thumb -- Give your customer choice of spending the $$$ now, BEFORE you try such things, and tell them if data is worth a few thousand dollars or more, to just send it out.   NOte, do NOT tell the recovery firm you tried a DIY recovery and hope for the best and they don't see any cold-related damage like condensation.

They MAY rat you out to the end-user and say there is environmental damage that makes recovery more costly.   Too late for you now, but just be aware that this can happen.
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by:john_square1
ID: 39262131
Ok!  Thanks for that info...
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