Retrieve Data from USB Win98 Disk

Very old Gateway2000 4DX2-66 (Win98) (use it to send programs to robotic welder.)  Need to retrieve file to send to vendor.  Bad floppy, no rec. CD drive, or network card.  Thought easy thing to do would be remove drive, connect to my  USB To IDE & SATA Cable & plug into my Windows 7 laptop (seemed to work with other drives in past.)  Got message device is ready to use, but no drive letter in my comp.  Opened Computer Mgt>Disk Mgt, got Message "Initialize Disk", left default at MBR, clicked OK, got pop up from Virtual Disk Mgr:  request could not be performed because of I/O device error.  Now when I put the drive back in the Gateway, get message no OS found.  HDD is WD Caviar 2700, 730MB.  Tried various utilities (Recuvu, MiniTool Partition, MiniTool Power Rec, and finally Find and Mount.  I know I made the ultimate IT mistake by rushing through the procedure, but it's somewhat crucial I get the 98 machine running, or at the very least get the robotic program files.  Did the initialize disk wipe the drive?  I've seen yes and no while searching the web.  Can anybody make any suggestions?  If there is no utility, does it even pay to have a disk recovery company look at it?  Very desperate.
Thank you in advance,
Bob G
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First, you need to get a native HDD connection.  The drive is IDE, so you need an IDE controller.  Any other controller uses a bridge which is a interface/protocol converter.  Commands and status bytes relating to I/O errors will get lost in the translation.   Your controller now is talking to a stupid bridge chip which isn't translating error/status info to the host. Everything you see is suspect.

After you get an IDE controller & drivers for your working O/S, then find a freebie "binary editor" program that will let you look at the raw physical drive.   Look at physical  block #0.  Is it all zeros, FF's, or mostly zeros but it shows small strings like MSFT or boot, or do you get a read I/O error?

If it is the latter (as I expect), then you need the services of a data recovery firm.  Nothing YOU can do to fix blocks that will not read.  In fact, if the HDD is in stress, every moment it is powered on risks further data loss.

Gut feeling, your drive took the wrong time to have a catastrophic media failure.  One way you can tell, is if it says the HDD capacity is 0 bytes.  If it says that, then you're screwed and no software product on the planet can fix it.  Only the guys in the bunny suits with expensive hardware and clean rooms can help you.

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The drive had an error according to your post, so it appears to perhaps have gotten worse. What you have done has not worked.  I have used SpinRite to recover Windows 98 disks successfully, but further action in this case may make things worse.

So I agree with the above - send it out to a data recovery firm and do not nothing more to it.
bobgrafAuthor Commented:
Many thanks to both of you.  There is a local PC chain store down the street that does data recovery,  so I'll take it there tomorrow when they open (9am CST).   Hopefully they can tell me soon if there is any hope.
I will follow up then.
Again, thank you.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Windows 98 has a FAT32 file system. Have you tried to scan it with GetDataBack
Mr TorturSystem EngineerCommented:
First if you initialized your disk you have done worst.
I think you may have lost every data on it because of that, but maybe it only just broke the partition table or something like that.
I would have recommand GetDataBack too as this is a pretty old soft (good for win98 too) and when I had one time in my life to recover my data I tested a lot of things but only this little soft found helpfull.
Could be time consuming to scan and recover the disk but it worse the try.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Initializing the drive does not delete the data. It writes only few bits at the start of the drive. After drive initialization one can use Undelete Partition Wizard and the partition will be there.
Mr TorturSystem EngineerCommented:
I don't know this software or wizard you are talking about but if you are right it would be helpfull for him.
It would be the first thing to do then.
Or Bobgraf if your datas are really that important and you don't want to take any risk then I would avise send it to recover at your charge.
Local PC store chain that does data recovery???   I doubt that. They probably send it out to a data recovery firm and mark the price up 33% so it is worth their time.   Do your homework and find a LOCAL data recovery firm in your home town, or at least try to.  

You want to go to the place that has the engineers where they do the work.   Then you can even talk to the person who will be doing the assessment and get the straight story.

 Check online yellow pages.    I'm in the Dallas area and there are several firms that are 24x7 and you can just go there any time any day, and get an assessment within a few hours, and if recovery is necessary, can have the data the next day.  (Or if you want to pay more, can have it in a few hours).
I have had a similar situation with a older machine like you are having. It turned out the vendor decided to make his hard drive
propriety by changing the bios settings for the  cylinder, heads and SPT so auto detect would not work. If you can get at the bios settings on the old computer it might be worth a look to see if these settings were manual or auto, If they were manual
check to see what they are they may not match what written on the drive, Any auto detect bios will set it to whats its suppose to be. Did you check your jumper settings on the drive? The machine I was working on was in a automotive wheel alignment setup with a generic white box. Just a shot in the dark here.

bobgrafAuthor Commented:
I was unaware that the USB enclosure (bridge) would cause any issues.  I took the Win98  drive and added it as a slave on an XP desktop (via the HDD ribbon cable.)  The drive shows as the E: drive, and all the data appears to be in tact.  I was able to copy all the files I needed to another location.  Since that was the main answer I was looking for in my post, I have to give dlethe the points, and a big thank you.  The drive still won't boot into Win98, but  since I didn't have that in my post, I will ask in another post.

Thanks to all who replied.
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