Recently Dead Hard Drive - Help recovering files

So, i was stupid enough to not have a Backup of one of my Harddrives, and in these last days it broke down. It was my 2nd HDD on my 2nd computer. So gratefully it DID NOT CONTAINED MY MOST PRECIOUS INFORMATION, but nevertheless i had some important files and photos that would be nice to recover.

So, this question is exactly this: Can you help me or guide me on how to recover my files from this recently dead drive?

I have removed it from the computer and i have attached it to my external Thermaltake BLACX Docking Station, and it does not recognize it. It keeps making a ticking noise, and then a message appears on the screen saying that it can not find the software to install it, or something like that.... I have tried other good drives, and it recognizes them inmediately...

This is the first time i have had a drive die on me, so i dont have any idea on what to do. I remember reading a decade ago that some people put the Drives on the Freezer (Does this work?? and if so, why could this make it work?... Also i read long long ago that recovering files from dead drives was EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE, and only VERY SPECIALIZED companies did this... Is this still true now on 2013...?

SEAGATE BARRACUDA 7200.11 500 Gigabytes

It is 3 or 4 years old... I think...

If there is any additional info you think is important to mention, please let me know.

In the meantime, i will have my fingers crossed... i hope i can recover at least some files... photos specially...
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Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information TechnologyCommented:
Most of the time, failure is with the circuit board.  Find another Seagate Barracuda drive (same model) and change the circuit board.  If that fails then your choice would be to send the drive to a recovery provider and hope they can recover the data.

Could you elaborate as to what kind of problem you are having?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The "freezer trick" is NOT something I recommend.   It rarely helps;  and even then only for a few seconds -- and if you get ANY moisture in the mechanism while doing this, you make further recovery much more difficult.

The best choice is professional recovery.   Yes, it is fairly expensive ... typically starting at around $400 and going up from there.    This is an excellent company with very reasonable (by data recovery standards) pricing:

You MAY be able to recover the drive by doing as suggested above -- i.e. finding another drive of the exact same model with the exact same printed circuit board [it must be the same revision and have the same firmware level] and very carefully swapping the circuit boards.   But anything YOU do is likely to make professional recovery more difficult (and thus more expensive).

There's also a chance the drive can be accessed with data recovery software that will bypass the standard access methods.    I'd try GetDataBack  [  ]  and Easy Recovery Professional [ ]  and see if either can "see" the drive.    In either case, if they can "see" the data they'll show you what they can recovery -- but you'll need to buy a license to do the actual recovery.

... but your best bet is a professional recovery company.

And in the future ... BACKUP !!
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
How do i change a Circuit board? I am a newbie on this thing, i have never had a dead drive before, but dont get me wrong, if  you tell me how to do it, or how to get another circuit board, i am up for it and do it myself... I do not live in USA, so sending it to a RECOVERY PROVIDER seems difficult.. i don't know of any here, and i dont think there are...

 So, the first step will be to get another Seagate Drive? Does it has to be the same model and capacity?  Does it has to be a Drive that it will not be used anymore? or if i put back its circuit board it will keep working?


Per your request, this is the problem that i experienced related to this Drive:

- Lately my PC started behaving strange, this was my 2nd HDD, but the PC started Freezing randomly and frequently, and in the last days it also started to BOOT extremely Slow.... When the computer frooze, which happened somehow frequently the last 3 or 4 months, this drive was working OK, and also I HAVE NEVER HAD a HDD Error or Warning on the "EVENT VIEWER / SYSTEM during all this months" .
- During the last week, the Booting time started to became quite slow, like 5 minutes to boot... But also there was not reported HDD Error or warning on Event Viewer
- I decided to Remove the Drive from my PC, and all this booting and freezing problems disappeared.
- When i was having this freezing and booting problem i opened another question here on EE, and GARYCASE told me the following which i think explains my problem:
Yes, a failed drive can easily cause what you've described -- it seems very likely that was the cause of the issue.    The drive simply failed in such a way that it was electrically overloading the bus, and making all disk-related access VERY slow (in fact it likely had caused DMA transfers to fail, and they were being done in PIO mode -- which is very slow).

And now, what i have noticed with this drive is the following:

- When i attach the drive to my external docking station (BlacX) it starts spinning and it makes like 10 or 11 ticks, around one tick per second....
- Then the FOUND NEW HARDWARE WIZARD appears, and asks if Can Windows connect to Windows Update to search for software?. After selecting YES, It asks to Install the Software Automatically, NEXT, it searches for a USB DEVICE, and then it says " CANNOT INSTALL THIS HARDWARE ".  As a note,   If i Attach another HDD to this same Docking station, it recognizes it Inmediately...

Hope this explains better the issue.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Switching the circuit board is a VERY delicate thing to do.     To remove it, you have to unscrew some very small screws;  VERY gently remove the drive -- unplugging a VERY DELICATE ribbon cable (that if you break will render the circuit board useless).    And you have to remove the boards from BOTH the failed drive and another good drive -- and then put the board from the good board in the failed drive.

And Yes, the other drive has to be EXACTLY the same model with EXACTLY the same circuit board  [same revision number and same firmware revision].    For an older drive, this can be very difficult to find.

I'm not certain, but I'm fairly sure Gillware will ship internationally, so you may want to give them a call.    They have a "no recovery, no fee" policy ... so if they can't recover your data from the drive there's no fee.

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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
replacing the circuit board is (a) not for the faint of heart and (b) you need a working circuit board from an identical drive (same make and model and place of manufacture).  If you do not know what you are doing you could end up with 2 bad drives.

Spinrite ( has rescued some drives for me. (these had physical errors on the drive platters)
Kent DyerIT Security Analyst SeniorCommented:
If you have any option - Use a BART (Ultimate Boot CD for Windows)..  Sysinternals used to have an Emergency BART CD.. There are others..  Then, when you boot into the OS on the CD, load the USB driver and try to copy/salvage what you can.  Otherwise, you will have to go into the forensic recovery mode.


Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I already noted it above, but I'll re-emphasize it:  your best choice if the data is important to you is to STOP -- do NOTHING with the drive.    Send it off for professional recovery.

If you're not willing to spend the cost of that; THEN it's okay to try other techniques ... but be aware that the more you USE the drive, the less the likelihood of recovery.

The one thing that IS a reasonable thing to try is a new circuit board .... but swapping them is (as I noted before) a VERY delicate operation => and you have to have the exact same circuit board, the from the exact same model drive, with the same PCB revision number, and the save firmware level that's on your drive.

Professional recovery companies have specialized firmware that they use that bypasses that stringent requirement and allows more precise control of the read/write operations on the drive.    You can actually buy that firmware ... but it costs more than a professional recovery of your data would cost.
What country do you reside in?  I'm pretty sure there will be another of comparable reputation to in Europe, or closer to your country of residence.
replacing the logic board on modern disk drives does  not work, since it has the disk geometry +  bad sectors (+ whatever the manufacturer chooses), so it is specific to this drive.
You are free to try it - i would love to see someone succeed (0 up to now)
so i recommend a data recovery service, like suggested, here a few :                        data recovery Company                                 "           "                   "                     "           "                   "
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys, i live in COSTA RICA, so i have not heard of any Recovery Service, but i will look for one.

If not, i have friends and family in USA, so i might be able to send it there to one of the recommended companies.

Do you have any idea of how much does this companies charge for this? Just an approximate to evaluate my situation.  I will write to them ans see if i can get an estimate, but in the meantime if you know about this, please let me know.

It is a 500GB 7200 HDD...  Of that i guess 80 Gigs can be Photos... and another 200 can be old but usefull files to my work. (I have a home-office)... These work files i can live without... Photos are important, i would not say i could not live without them... but it will be nice to recover them... good memories

I have decided i will not touch this drive until i know about how much could a proffesional recovery service could cost me... If it is out of my budget, i then will try the Circui Board Method (because i THINK i MIGHT have an identical drive in another computer...not 100%sure tough...) And if that does not work, i will go with the Software options recommended here.

Thanks everybody
Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information TechnologyCommented:
I have replaced circuit boards for.various drives which.had suffered blown circuits from lightning, etc and in two instances I found out that you could use circuit boards from.different capacity drives as long as the.manufacturer and product line is the same (ie Seagate Cheetah)
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... I have decided i will not touch this drive until i know about how much could a professional recovery service could cost me...  "  ==>

Getting a quote for professional recovery is a good plan for the first step.    My guess is this will be ~ $400 from Gillware ... but that may have changed since I last checked.

That's by far the most-likely-to-be-successful approach.

But if the cost is more than you're willing to pay for the data, then it's time to try the other approaches we've suggested.
google for one in the city you're living
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
So, Definetely $400 is more than i am willing to  pay, i will say $200 for sure or $300 tops it will hurt...hehe... I hope this kind of service is cheaper over here...But more importantly that there is a company that can actually do it, and do it well.. I dont want it to be just an enthusiast that will try to do it... For that matter, i will prefer to send it to USA, i will wait for a friend or family to travel... or i might...

Nobus, right now i just googled and i found some... But without refererrals i dont trust the websites... I will start asking people around and go with the one most recommended, and that seems legit and with experience.

Just to be 100% SURE... If a drive has  a TICKING (clicking) sound, it is "possible" to recover the info with the CIRCUIT BOARD METHOD? or this Circuit Method only applies to other kind of problem with the drive?  I ask these thinking not that i want to do it myself, but just to know if it is a real "possibility" for an expert to use this method, since it seems to me that this sound is a "physical" problem, and my "limited" logic and knowledge points me toward CIRCUIT not having anything to do with a physical thing... Or am i completely wrong?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The "clicking" sound is probably an electrical issue that's causing the heads to load/unload or possibly the seek mechanism to seat/unseat.    This can be caused by a defective circuit board; or by a failed actuator unit in the drive itself.   No way to say for sure without actually troubleshooting it ... but it's very likely a good PCB will solve the problem.

If the data is important, however, it's always best to let the professionals do the recovery.  Yes, it's pricey ... but you'll almost certainly get your data back.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Excellent Garycase, now i understand that a Circuit Board CAN make the heads do this clicking sound. I tought the sound had to do with a mechanical fault...  But a mecahnical problem was less likely in this case because the drive never felt or was hit... I am more inclined to the ELECTRICAL theory, since it makes more sense to what i experienced with this computer.

I once dropped an external HDD while on, and it inmediately started doing the clicking noise, that why i tought the click was only Mechanically related...

No worries, my first bet is to look for a proffesional for this. I have all the panorama clearer now.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
heads do crash, sectors do go bad on drives. the drive is trying to find out where the head is and not detecting what it needs, so the heads just keep traveling until they hit the stop (click).. From now on you will remember from bitter experience about the value of backups (3 backups in 3 locations)
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Thanks a lot guys, i know i will visit this question in the next months to re read all your advice. For the moment i will just keep my dead HDD on a box, and when in have time i will make up my mind and perhaps send it to some professionals for recovery.... If still out of my budget, i will then do the CIRCUIT BOARD, since i am almost certain  i have 2 of these drives

I think i might try the FREEZER method in a very old dead drive that i had in a box, which right now i don't really care about, and neither remember what it contained.. it is old and small capacity...

Thanks everybody for your advice in this issue. As always the best, fastest, personalized, and more reliable support that one could ever find on the web in times of need!...
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
By the way, i just opened this new question regading a NEW Harddrive that i want to buy. Not for this same computer, but for a SMALL QNAP NAS that i own.

Please take a look if you can:

Most recommended Hard Drive for small NAS
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