Can you recomment tools I might use to recover data from a hard disk drive?

I have a HP P6320Y desktop that has a bad c:drive.  The c:drive is 1TB in size.   BIOS does not recognize that the drive is even there.  I took the drive out and connected it via USB. Windows/7 recognized that a drive was attached and created a disk drive D:

When I try to look at the drive using Windows Explorer I am told:
"You need to format the disk in drive D: before you can use it."

Please advise me on tools I might use to try to recover data. Ideally, I would like to recover the drive and make it bootable again. I don't know what damage the drive has.  It makes no funny noises when loaded via USB.

Thank you.
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I've used a tool called Recuva in the past and it has recovered data from the drive.

Anothet way to try get the data back would be to plug into a pc via a usb converter and then see if the files are accessible. Once connected to another machine successfully then run chkdsk :driveletter /f /x /r and see id that helps.

I cannot guarantee you it will work.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
I just tried Recuva.  I have the file attached via USB (sata drive).  Recuva gave an "unable to determine system file type" message.  Can't go any further.

Maybe I need a lower level tool.  The drive must have serious problems.
Hmmmm, the only other tool I used a few years back was something called RecoverMyFiles. But again not guaranteed to recover your data. At this point there's 3 options,

1. Try installing Recovermyfiles on the PC you have the drive connected to currently via USB and see if it can recover anything.
1. Try and format the drive and install Windows over it and then run Recvua/Recovermyfiles to see if anything can be retrieved
2. Send the drive off to a company who specializes in Data Recovery.

At this point its a hard hard lesson learnt but always back your data up. This year internally we have not been able to recover data off 2 drives out of 5 so I know how it feels to lose data.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
you're pretty much left with using Spinrite ($89)  to try and recover the drive or sending the drive off to a hard drive recovery facility ($500+)
The best tool available is Getdataback. If it is unable to see your data, your only chance is to send the disk to a professional recovery agency, which is by no means cheap. If the trial version of Getdataback sees your files, register it so you can copy them off.

Anyway, why do you even bother? Just get a new disk, do a factory restore from the recovery media you made when you got the PC, then restore any data from your backups.

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When BIOS does not recognize the drive then it means drive electronic circuits are in big troubles or (better) the low level info about the drive type is damaged... The question is if they are still readable.

The Windows message asking for format when you connect it via USB points to the recognized USB disk driver NOT the disk itself.

In no case format the drive or install something to it!!!

My recommendation: Ask any data recovery company in your area for the disk investigation and they will tell if the drive is readable by their tools or not. They will also tell the price for data recovery. The investigation itself should be free.

If you are mechanically strong to disassemble the drive and remove the plates in a dust free environment you may mount them into the brand new drive of the same type and manufacturer and try to read them by a C program which calls the disk hardware functions directly... Documentation is available at manufacturer's web pages. A lot of work but you may sell such service to others after you become an expert in this area. Data recovery is a service with very high added value.

OTOH, on-line backup services are free up to certain amount of space.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Try to scan the drive with GetDataBack as suggested above. It is the best of available tools. If it fails then you can do the recovery at special clean lab service. Which is not cheap one. If the data is not important you better use your backups to restore from.
i  use the HDDRegenerator instead      

it recovered many drives for me
Richard SchilkeOnline Marketing and ITCommented:
Under no circumstances reformat the drive as ejaz suggests. What is the hard disk brand and model? And try to plug these values into the bios. Old fashioned I know but but might work.
You may have a boot sector virus I would try to create a sep. Bootable USB with an antivirus on it and check the boot sector on the old c drive.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:

I'd download the manufacturer's util for that drive and see if it recognizes the drive.

Then choose the Quick Test option.  If it fails then you send it to the Data Recovery experts.

Seagate -

Western Digital -

Other manufacturers have their own utils as well.
I think everyone should stop attacking my comment and rather focus on the task/question at hand. (agreed it was a stupid suggestion, but a suggestion none the less)

Funny that I recommended something and everyone else below pretty much recommends the same but no-body mentions that.....
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the many suggestions. I appreciate. I connected the bad drive via a USB connection. I then tried the Getdataback function and it has found files.  The disk is 1TB and it suggested that it would take 22+ hours to do a full run. I was told to add the drive as a 2nd drive in my PC.

 It also cautioned me to make sure that I have enough space on my c:drive for the recovered files.  I don't, so I installed a 1 TB disk  (was going to do this anyway) and have copied an image of my c: drive and am now restoring it to the new disk. Then I will run Getdataback, and buy a license if it can recover the files she wants (this is a friend's PC that has the problem -- and she has no backups).

Since doing this work I have read newer comments that are interesting to me.  HDDRegenerator (but I am already going a different way).

" boot sector virus I would try to create a sep. Bootable USB with an antivirus" - I havent done a bootable USB - creating the tools take some time to. But I like this idea. May do that later if needed.

Thanks again.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
To recover the files you do not need to point it to C: drive. Just get a USB external drive of bigger capacity and point GetDataBack to restore the files to it. So you will have then your "bad" drive as internal and target for recovered files as external.
Plus you can later take backup copies of working system to this external drive.
usb drives will take much longer than internal drives  : "22+ hours to do a full run"
with internal connection  - it may be below 5 hrs
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Scan - yes but data copy from an internal drive to USB drive should be ok in speed.
you should explain why the speed is ok; afaik usb2 is limited to 480 mb/sec
while sata interface is at 3 or 6 GB
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
If you compare the time t install Windows on new 1TB internal drive all actions you should take for it. Plus the fact that USB drive can be later used for daily or weekly backups - the USB will get mo pros as cons. Plus there is always a USB3.0 interface that can be used for USB3.0 drive.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
II used Drive Snapshot to capture an image (Windows 7 Pro) of the old c: drive (256gb), then I restored this image to my new HDD  c: drive (1tb). All went well.  When I try to boot the new drive, I get  "BootMgr is Missing".  I have checked the boot sequence. DVD first then the new disk drive.  Do I need to activate the drive?  I've been thru this before - can't recall what I did.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
No, you need to clone not only the C drive but the 100MB partition which contans the boot files too. In other words copy not just C drive but the entire HDD.
Is the C the only partition on original drive?
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Thanks.  Is there any way I can repartition and add the 100mb partition without having to restore the entire drive again?
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Yes, but for this you will need 1) a partitioning tool 2) wait long enough till the resize is done 3) be precise that you make the resize for 100MB exactly.
Or you can simply copy th of content of 100MB partition to copied C drive and then set this partition active. At start it could complain but with Windows repair from and installation disk it will bootup.
So, I still think the new backup/recovery is going to be simpler and faster.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Thanks again.  I used Disk management and "shrunk" the partition size by 100MB.  Then I used snapshot to move the 100mb image to this new partition - which Snapshot named "F".  I set F active.  

Then hooked it up as my new drive and tried to boot it.  But it hung with a overscore like character in the far upper left of the screen

The new drive now contains the c: partition, followed by the f:partition (100MB).  Activation problem?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
from the installation disk boot into repair mode command prompt
bcdedit /createstore  == this creates the BCD store
find which drive holds windows (the drive letter may be different than what you see when booted into windows)
bcdboot X:\windows   == replace X with the drive letter you found from above
bootsect /nt60 /sys /all
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Actually the 100MB partition must be BEFORE system partition. As I said exactly the same way as it was on original drive. Otherwise you will crapeTe a weird configuration of Windows.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
OK. I have restored the 100MB partition before the system partition and I am now restoring the system partition behind the 100MB partition -- but this partition will be extended to utilize the rest of the 1TB disk (the original disk was 250gb)

David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
The 100mb System Reserved Partition is not mandatory but simply the default behaviour personally I set it to 350MB instead only because backup copies the files to this partition and they must fit to be backed up or you will get an error.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
So, is your restore finished? Did the system boot after it?
Am I understanding you correctly, you have copied your directories from the old, corrupted disk to the new one, and are now trying to run Windows from that???

A corrupt Windows is a corrupt Windows, the original has errors and missing things. So that won't work. Rather install a clean Windows version on your new disk, or use the recovery media you made when you first got the PC and restore it to factory restore, or use another backup you made when it was still working, and restore that.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
No, rindi. He is trying to move his working system to bigger drive so that he could restore his data from corrupt drive to C: partition. Personally for me it makes no sense as the new 1TB drive could be made as second data drive in system and then data restore to this drive.
But looks like Henry is trying to shoot two birds with one shot. Move the system to bigger drive and restore the data to this new drive.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
The new 1TB disk drive is showing disk errors.  Maybe I need to go to church more?

I am out until Thursday. I will update you when I have had time to  look it over again when I return.  I did have plans to upgrade my c:drive to 1TB so I did try to mix that in with this work --  bad call I guess.  Oh well, If I didn't make a few bad calls, I wouldn't need you guys.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Don't think going to church can help with a bad HDD :)
What kind of errors are these? Maybe the errors are in file system but not with the physical drive itself.
he said in his Q ; "I have a HP P6320Y desktop that has a bad c:drive."
it can be that the image will "repair" itself, but there is no guarantee
i also suggest - like Rindi -  to do a fresh install
but of course, determine with the diagnostic first if it is ok - or not
what disk model is this?
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Now I am screwed. The okd C drive is now D drive. But this D drive is too big. For this he tried to restore data to current C drive which is small. Then he bought new drive and copied there the C drive. What did I miss??
not sure, but if he has the data - all is ok for a frsh install
Henry -  plse state what you have : disks, data, and their status
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
I got us off the track by trying to upgrade my hard disk drive (on my PC) at the same time I was trying to resolve this issue with the HP6320Y PC.  Let's leave that alone.  

Let me start over.   I have a Lady's PC (HP P6320Y with 1TB HDD - Seagate) that will not boot.  Power on produces "Reboot and Select proper Boot device".  

Reboot/pf10 to BIOS shows 1st/2nd/3rd/4th drive = none,
It also shows: 8gb ram, Model - p6320y, Product Number ay748aa-aba

Initially, I had asked for advice on tools I should use to recover the data on this drive.  I should have asked "What should I do ?"

Nobus comment - "it can be that the image will "repair" itself"   sounds like a good first step --  how does this "repair itself" thing work?
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Also, while I am in the BIOS, I look at the Boot device priority and it shows that I have no devices installed -- 1st Boot device says CD-ROM Group -- but CD ROM is showing [Not Installed]
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
So I understood you correct. The advice remains the same. Connect the "Bad" drive as slave or through USB case to a working PC and use GetDataBack to copy out the data from this "bad" drive.
The HDD itself could be failing and the sooner you get the data off from it the better for you.
Only after this try to fix the "bad" 1TB HDD if it is possible.

I guess nobus was referring to the image you've taken with snapshot tool. But this is a different story as you said yourself.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Thanks.  GetDataBack warns me that I must have enough space on my system drive to handle the recovered data.  (That is what took me off the track the first time - trying to upgrade to a larger c:drive on my own PC). I have about 40gb left on my system drive. I didn't think that GetDataBack gives me the option to copy files to another drive?
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Indeed it should give this. Have a look carefully in settings. For this you need to have your good 1TB drive in your system with a partition on it which has a drive letter.
In options select Environment and Default Save Directory. Point it to the second good HDD.
Attention! Make sure that you specify the correct directory and not the same drive where you want to restore data from.
You only need enough free space to hold the data you need recovered. You probably don't need everything on the disk, and it probably isn't full. Besides, the first part scans the disk without recovering anything. Once it has finished the scan, you can look through the directories and files it has found, and if there are any files you want save, you register the tool so you can copy them off. You can save the data to any other disk, which can be attached via USB, or connected to the LAN etc. It just needs to be seen by your OS and have free space available on it.

Of course if Getdataback doesn't see any data you want recovered, the data is either lost, or you would need to send it to a professional recovery agency, and that is not cheap. So the most likely call is that the data is lost.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Thanks much.  Good advice.

Another simple side question.  Part of my difficulty is that I have only two sata connectors - one for drive c: and one for my CD ROM.  How do I add more?  

If I do the scan and use USB connected drives, the time could be enormous -- but still may be easier???
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
You can connect the second HDD instead of CD-ROM. Means that you do not need CD-RIM urgently and it can be disconnected for some time or?
Yes, with USB it will take longer but as I said earlier - it is easier.
i have recovered many drives with HDDRegenerator :
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Getdataback data:   Searching for File Systems (L10)  NTFS FAT12, FAT16, FAT32

Files Identified: 156,000 file starts, 0 usr
Directories: 6 starts, 1600 conts

12% done  15 hours remaining.
yes - it takes a long time, certainly on bigger disk sizes (which ar rather full)
Richard SchilkeOnline Marketing and ITCommented:
It will be interesting to see how points are awarded for the final solution
i'm not interested in points, but in finding the solution

I don't know when the GetDataBack scan is due to finish, but it is fair to warn you that a significant number of recovered files may be duplicated, may have the file names slightly modified, and quite often they will be in new folders with alpha-numeric names that don't reflect their original source.  It can take a fair amount of sorting out after you copy out the recovered files to the other drive.  Copy out the whole lot to the other drive and do the sorting out afterwards.  Don't try and spend time previewing and trying to figure out the duplicates in the GetDataBack interface.

The Recuva program mentioned earlier is designed to recover files that have been deleted, but where the space they occupy has not yet been overwritten by other files.  GetDataBack will find deleted files as well as files that are in storage areas that are not accessible to Windows Explorer (eg. bad structure, damaged area, etc).

Files are stored in millions of small "pockets" on a drive.  Tiny files will occupy one of these spaces and have some unused space left in it.  Files larger than the size of one "pocket" will be spread over other storage spaces, and they won't always sit right next to each other on the drive, especially if the drive is "fragmented".  An index on the drive keeps a note of where all these file fragments are on the drive.  GetDataBack needs to hunt out all of these file fragments that are scattered all over the drive and then reassemble them into complete files that can be copied out to another drive.

If a file existed in one location, was copied and pasted elsewhere, and then the original was deleted, the deleted file will probably be recovered as well as the version that was copied, and if the recycle bin was used there could be a further instance of the same deleted file being recovered.

I am not trying to put you off.  This is just how data recovery works.  There is usually still quite a lot of file shuffling and sorting to do after the data is recovered and copied out to another drive.  There are "duplicate file finders" that can help with this task if needed.  Remember, you are only really interested in the user's personal files, not the Windows system files or those for different applications.  You will no doubt be reinstalling Windows and the applications anyway.

I wish you luck.
Getdataback tries it's best to keep the directory structure and filenames the same as the original. If the directory structure is different than the original, or the file name has changed, then it is very likely that the file is either corrupt or incomplete. So I suggest only copying out those files where the data structure is the same as it was on the original. With the others you'll very likely just be wasting your time having to open each file in it's original application and finding out if it still works.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all of you for your help!  I did a few of these recoveries the hard way.  But I am understanding the tool much better now. The GetData Back tool is working well.  I think i am going to have much (maybe all) of the data restored.

Once I have recovered the data, I will close this question  ---  "Can you recommend tools I might use to recover data from a hard disk drive?"

I would like to explore the possibility of recovering/repairing the original disk drive.  It doesn't boot but much of the disk is functioning fine.  I will open a separate question for that. You guys have spent enough time telling me how to do data recovery. Thanks again.
post the link to the new Q here, if you want us to follow up
For the original disk, just run it's manufacturer's diagnostic utility on it. If the tool tells you it is bad and should be replaced, do that. As it is a large disk, chances are, there is still warranty on it. You can usually check on the warranty status online via the manufacturer's web-site. If there is no warranty, you could still RMA it...

If the diag tells you the disk is OK, or offers to try to repair it, allow it to do that, or use the tool to zero-fill the disk. After that it should be usable again.
i don't agree fully with the above
i had a bad disk from a friend in -  windows said it should be formatted, other software threw i/o errors  - in short, NOT accassible, diags did not run
i ran hddregenerator (took 40 hrs) and then i could run Getdataback and recover his data
in the past, i could even reboot from it without problems  - not sure yet if this also  is the case

so -  i suggest that not always the disk is bad even if software says so
but it's up to you if you want to trust this disk further
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
I opened a second question on full restoration of my client's PC.

I will close this question out soon.  I want to make sure the recovery is as good as I think it is.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
One last question.  I have recovered all the ntfs files to my USB drive.  GetDataBack also has a FAT (16,32,...) recovery version -- I do not have to worry about FAT files do I?
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:

FAT is generally found on floppy disks, USB drives and sticks, Windows 95 to Windows ME machines and some Recovery Partitions.
HenryWilfredAuthor Commented:
I was very pleased with the attempts to help me.  Quick responses.  Different alternatives offered.  And, the PATIENCE  of the Experts was very good as I stumbled to get through this.  I got the end result I needed - All data was recovered.
Hi Henry.  Good job and well done.

>>> "I have recovered all the ntfs files to my USB drive" <<<

I suggest that you now make an additional backup of the files on the Flash Drive by copying them to the hard drive of another functional computer, just in case the Flash Drive becomes inaccessible.  Although such bad luck would be highly unlikely, you can never be too safe with somebody else's data.

What you really need to do now is encourage your friend to either create backups of her files on a regular basis, or create an image of the hard drive on a regular basis.  A drive "image" is a complete clone of the drive (or partition of a drive) that can be reinstated in one go should the drive become so messed up that it needs to be replaced or wiped.
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