Hard Drive spins up but is inaccessible

I have a hard drive that has suddenly become INACCESSIBLE and all data is not able to be read.  Of course, this is the only copy of SOME of the data, and it would be great to recover it without shipping off to OnTrack or some other such entity.  Here are the details:

- No drop or electrical issues
- Drive is SATA
- Drive spins up when plugged in without stutter or grind
- Drive is NOT recognized by BIOS - no autodetect cylinders, size, model, etc...
- When attached to a USB cable / external power adapter, Windows indicates that the drive needs to be initialized.  It has NOT been initialized.

What can be done to get to this data?  Does anyone have any ideas?  I've tried a few systems, swapping SATA cables, verified that the contacts were clear and that there was no damage or leaked capacitors, etc...on the motherboard of the HDD upon visual inspection.

If anyone has any ideas, I'd welcome them.  Thanks!
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Thomas GrassiSystems AdministratorCommented:
How hot did it get?

I had a 500 GB sata drive inside a external usb drive and the cabinet got to 88 then all of a sudden I was not able to access the drive.  Turned of the drive removed from the cabinet and then from the case. After a few days I put the drive back in and it worked. I was very lucky.

Normally when the drive spins up and you can not access the data it lost its format.

Best bet would be to send it out to see if they can recover it.

No magic tricks

Good luck
"Drive is NOT recognized by BIOS" -- that indicates a drive electronics failure. Unless you can find an exact replacement for the interface card on the drive and swap them out, your only option is a data recovery service. This one is very good and reasonable: http://gillware.com/

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Bottom line, if the  BIOS doesn't see it, then you need the guys in the bunny suits and be prepared for $500 - $1000.  If the BIOS doesn't see it, then certainly no recovery software can see it either.

Don't power up the disk any more.  For all you know, tiny pieces of HDD are flying around the inside crashing into the platters at 5400 RPM just creating more damage.

The USB is a red herring.  Windows sees the USB bridge chip. It never talks to the drive directly with a USB dongle.

So sorry.
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jkeegan123Author Commented:
I really don't know the answer it is an old white box server at a client site,and the hard drive is a Western Digital blue 250 gig 16 mB caChe and the area was well ventilated from what I could tell but white box being white box it could very well have been due to an overheat. Thank you for your input, I'd think may try my luck on ebay to get the exact same drive and then try a motherboard swap, it is just a couple of screws and the experiment will probably not cost more than 20 dollars. Most of the time I think that is all drive recovery people do,collect old hard drive and use their mother board when in a pinch.
The interface board must be an exact match. The same model hard disk can have multiple revisions of the interface board.
No, most of the time that is NOT what data recovery people do.  I assure you. (My company writes software that data recovery people use).

Firmware matters.  The data in the NVRAM of the "motherboards" matter. Revisions matter.

If you are willing to risk 100% data loss to the extent that professional recovery will fail, then go for it. Just know the odds are at least 10:1 against this working, and even if it does "work", you'll certainly end up with some corruption.
Wait this is a customer's disk???  Then you owe it to your customer and your professionalism to just tell them to pay for professional recovery and move on.  You may even open yourself up to a lawsuit by trying this yourself and damaging the HDD should they decide to spend the money for professional recovery when you fail.
jkeegan123Author Commented:
@dlethe: of course you're correct, but they already swore off recovery costs and since on track diagnostic alone is mode thanks they're willing to pay, the motherboard option is all they're going to get. They approved the possibility of course, and this kind of thing is not the time or place to be reckless like that.
i had luck with replacing the disk logic board - on older models, like the 20-80 GB series
but on modern drivers i have not seen yet one board replacement that worked.
it did get a non -running drive running again, but that was all.

so your options are really reduced to one= recovery services
try these, and ask for their fee and policy - there are price differences :
http://www.lowcostrecovery.com/index.html                        data recovery Company
http://www.gillware.com/                                 "           "                   "
http://www.drivesavers.com/services/estimates.html                     "           "                   "

i hope you find one you can use
Thomas GrassiSystems AdministratorCommented:

Any luck on this?
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