Getting data off a failed hard drive - does SATA controller vs. PATA controller matter?

I have a 160GB hard drive from an external Seagate USB drive that we can't get data off of it.  

I took the bare drive out of the USB box in case there was something wrong with the USB box's hardware.

The drive is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 from 2006? 2007? and has PATA / IDE connectors.  

I have a couple USB gadgets that let you connect to bare drives and then plug this gadget into a PC's USB port.  I tried a couple of those gadgets.  The drive spins up and doesn't clunk.  But the PCs hang when opening drive management / can't read from the drives.  I've gotten an older computer with PATA connectors.  Put that drive in and it doesn't see it.

A couple people suggested getting other seagate hard drives and swap the controller boards.

I got 2 drives from ebay.  Both Seagate Barracuda 7200.9, 160GB drives.  But I screwed up and missed that they are SATA, not PATA.

Putting each hard drive in a PC, they work fine, show the correct amount of storage / can read / write to them.

I took off the controller boards and tried them on the failed drive.  Both hang when booting up.  

Anyone know if using a SATA controller rather than PATA matters to the hard drive? (the drive and controller talk to each other the same for PATA and SATA? It's just the controller talking to the PC that's different?

I tried the controller boards without a hard drive and the PC kinda acts the same way as when the failed hard drive is connected to the controllers.  is it 'cause the (SATA) controllers can't talk to the drive because its failed or because they are sata and the drive is PATA?

Looks like the drive is going to a data recovery service at this point : (  $$$$

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There are still many PC's with mainboards that have IDE controllers builtin. Many have both, IDE and SATA. Just attach the disk to one of those PC's using the IDE connector then you can try getting the data off.
Scott GorcesterCTOCommented:
Many motherboards have SATA and PATA connectors or you can use adapters or external USB hard drive housings. It sounds like you have done these things and the drive is not showing up or you are seeing some lock up. My opinion based on your comments is that the drive you are trying to access is simply not functional, clunking or snapping can be a sure sign its damaged but the lack of these symptoms is not an indication the drive is functioning of course. I think you are right that the drive may need to go to a recovery service.

Scott Gorcester MCITP

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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
It just dawned on me.  I was taking the known good SATA controllers and putting them on the questionable PATA drive.  And the systems not seeing it.  So either the SATA / PATA are not compatible or the PATA hard drive is bad.

So I took a known good SATA hard drive and put the questionable PATA controller on it.  That didn't show up in the computer either.  So is that because of SATA / PATA incompatability?  Or the PATA controller is bad also?

Don't want to, but I kinda feel I should buy a PATA drive and take that controller off and put it on the questionable PATA hard drive.  that woudl take the sata / pata compatability out of the equation.

But hoping someone will say one way or another that the controller on the bottom of the hard drive matters whether it's pata or sata for the hard drive to talk to it?
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You probably have to enable the IDE controller within the BIOS. Another thing you usually also need to do is set the disk's jumpers so they are either set to "Master", "Slave" or "CableSelect". Normally if there is only 1 device attached to the cable Master or CS is fine. If there already is another device on the cable (Optical drives often still are IDE), the jumper needs to either be set to the other setting than what the Optical drive uses, or CS. For CS to work properly, you should use the 80 wire and not the 40 wire cables.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
Sorry, didn't mention about the bios.

On the test computer(s), the IDE / SATA ports are already in use.

On 1 machine, it has SATA hard drives and a working IDE connector for the CD drive.  I shut down the PC, disconnect the IDE connector from CD drive and connect to the IDE controller on the drive.

When it restarts, the POST fails that an expected drive is not found (it's looking for the CD drive / IDE drive).  I try the jumpers for Cable select and then for master and connect the drive to the end connector of the IDE cable, the same connector that the CD drive was connected.

And same situation when testing IDE.  I'll disconnect the CD drive on another PC that uses SATA for the CD.  the drive under test is not recognized.
Then the disk is bad and you will have to dispose of it.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
what is making you come to that decision though?  I am trying to figure if it's an PATA / SATA incompatability (the controller board vs. hard drive itself) or bad hard drive.

I get the same no drive detection when taking the PATA controller with SATA drive and Sata controller with PATA drive.  I would think if mixing isn't an issue then 1 or the other combination would work unless both the controller and drive are bad.
Using a USB or SATA bridge is going to be a big problem.  Both involve protocol conversions and data regarding I/O errors won't get propagated properly.  (Example a USB interface makes the HDD emulate SCSI commands, and 100% of the error information will be lost).

Only way to do this right (beyond leaving it to a professional who has guys in bunny suits and a lab) is to use the NATIVE IDE interface on your PC.

The drive-not-found thing is proof that error information is being lost.  If it was a direct IDE attach connection, you MAY get more information, or you may actually get some data).

But realistically -- if you want the data back, turn the device off and be prepared to pay $500+ to a recovery lab.
If your mainboard's IDE connector doesn't see your IDE disk, but it sees the IDE Optical drive, the disk is gone. An IDE disk has nothing to do with SATA.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
thanks guys. just to be clear - I'm talking about the circuit board screwed onto the bottom of the hard drive. didn't know that the same model hard drive comes as an IDE/ PATA and also SATA.
The circuit boards are matched to the disk. You can't change those.
Don't even think of changing the circuit board.  It not only has firmware settings, but knows where bad blocks are.   You'd be throwing your money away because no way will you be able to source the circuitboard that has the correct firmware unless you already knew what the firmware was ahead of time on the drive that failed ... and you cannibalized a working drive that just happened to have the same firmware.

Not only that, but odds of the circuitboard even being the problem are close to 20:1 against.

Spend your time trying to get an estimate from a company that does data recovery.  Some offer zero-cost assessment.  But again, unless you are prepared to spend something in the $500 range, then cut your losses and give up.
put the original board back on the disk drive
if it is an IDE, connect it to an IDE cable - watch the M/S/CS jumper !
look in the bios -  the drive should show up; if not - your only possibility for data recovery is a  recovery service like :
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
the original board could be the problem though, right?  Taking a similar board from a close match hard drive might solve it then?
No. The boards must match exactly, with the correct firmware as dlethe mentioned, and the proper values of your particular disk must be included. You won't find a board that matches exactly.
They do NOT necessarily have the firmware marked on the board either.  Think about it, if you upgrade the firmware, do you put a new sticker on the board?

Getting the right firmware is impossible unless you knew what the firmware was on your failed disk, AND you take a working drive that has the correct firmware and cannibalize it.

(Or you have the $50,000 worth of equipment necessary that can detect this).  

Did you know that powering up a drive in stress could very well cause additional damage?   What if there are ferromagnetic particulates flying around at 5400 RPM smacking around inside the sealed canister bouncing off the platters?   You don't know if this is the case.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
dlethe: that's certainly a fear of mine - that trying to recover the data is messing things up worse.  But it's kinda the only option.  They don't want to pop for the expensive service, so I'm taking the risks that I'm making things worse.
Counting all the time you have wasted on this already a professional recovery agency would probably have been cheaper....
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
Rindi - not to get into a debate, but really.... you haven't worked on something for the challenge?   Maybe with all the points you have / experience, you don't fall into that 'trap' of working on something long past the point you should.  But I haven't gotten there yet.
Fair enough BeGentle .... but If you have not done so, I strongly suggest telling customer that odds are much higher that any further efforts you take will make professional recovery impossible.  As I wrote, you can get a zero-cost assessment with some data recovery firms.  

I'd do that first. Then at least the customer has a quote and they can make the decision to risk 100% data loss, forever, if you are unsuccessful.  -- Hope you're on the clock for what you have done so far ;)
The "challenge" should be solvable. If they aren't to begin with it really isn't a challenge but rather just "futile".
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