Getting data off a failed? hard drive? Companies or techniques?

BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelp used Ask the Experts™
We have a hard drive that was working but now we get d:/ is not accessible.  Access is denied

It has been a while since we've used a service and I remember it wasn't a good experience although the details escape me and I won't bias people's answers with who the company was.

Could people offer their recommendations on companies that could potentially get data off a 3.5" WD drive from 2009. It is SATA. There's no encryption on it.  And it has been a while since we've used a service. What is the going rate these days along with lead time for the less expensive service?

And am I missing anything while I tried connecting to my computer, it shows a drive letter, disk management says it's NTFS and healthy. But when you click on the drive letter in file explorer it says D:/ is not accessible Access is denied.

I had hopes it was an NTFS permissions issue. I booted RescueCD, a linux product and googled how to mount external hard drives from the command line - I would have thought there's a way from the GUI?

I got the following message:

The disk contains an unclean file system (0,1)
Metadata kept in windows cache, refused to mount
Failed to mount '/dev/sdd1': Operation not permitted
The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown windows fully......
or mount the volume read only with the ro mount option.

We aren't up on Linux. Is there another product we should be using?
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Top Expert 2014
Have you tried adding " -o ro " to your mount command? so it reads something like "mount -t ntfs -o ro /dev/sdax /mnt/tmp"
Andy thank you so much! I did add the dash r and have access to the hard drives files!!!! So I guess it’s not a hardware failure of the drive just something corrupt in the NTFS permissions and other stuff that I need to use read-only to make it readable.

is there a GUI way to access hard drives or do you have to do it from the commandline in Linux. IsIs there a different Linux I should be using other than what’s in this rescue cd that would give me the  flexibility to access another hard drive in GUI?  I don’t really know the first thing of Linux :-)

I am using MC-  Something like an old DOS file manager I remember  to copy files from the old drive to a Nother new drive just to make sure we have a back up
Top Expert 2014
I think you'll be safer with something like getdataback from or Easeus recovery from both about $80 rather than spend ages working with a free Linux based software but I don't know how urgent it is to get the data available again. It must be able to be resolved via the running Windows but would take ages to troubleshoot it.
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Technology Scientist
I usually use a linux live CD with a GUI. Scientific Linux comes to mind. I like this one because it is a Red Hat Enterprise Clone and I like seeing the progress of the files moving (Good GUI, low overhead). Connect another drive that is good into the system; then, simply move the files from the dying-drive to the good drive. It'll almost be like working with Windows, sort of.
Top Expert 2013
is that an internal drive, connected with  a sata cable ?
acompany with a fairly good name and fees :
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

What OS did the drive belong to? You can boot the system from Ubuntu distro and use its gui to access the data after your mount it.
Thank you all.  At this point I am getting data onto a newer hard drive using Linux.  

The question for me now is mounting the drives in Linux:  is there a GUI way to do it / what distro allows it. Or is the arcane commands the only way to go?   I was using these couple lines from

Looking up the drives (frisk)

Make directory?
Then mount?

And who is sudo <g>??
noxcho; the drive is ntfs from a win 10 machine.

i know beyond compare from scooter

am I being too picky - a graphic (or really just simple) way to mount the drives (the problem drive and a new replacement) then a way to compare the 2 drives / move files.

is there a page to help make a debian bootable USB? you mention it and it's what scooter says can run beyond compare...
i did some googling about making a debian bootable usb and got to this page:

so even choosing debian over ubuntu or others, there's still different versions under that! : (

to install debian on a hard drive (downloaded / made usb stick with that ISO by accident 1st time) there's just 1 choice, once you choose hardware you have,

and this page talks of things like fedora gnome? is that different than the debian gnome?
Top Expert 2013
you took the Linux way- look how i handle disk problems :
Thanks!  Funny, 5 min before reading your post / the article,it dawned on me to stop connecting the bad & good drives via usb and just use the internal SATA cables.  The transfer rate was so long - 40+ hours it said were left.  Total data is 700gb and some already moved.  


I’ll try Knopf I’d or that winpe OS I guess

In rescuecd is I can mount  in read only mode and get data.  Other os and writable don’t let me get to data

Also, I tried cloning the disk w clonezilla bootable ant it failed 1/2 way through / 5 hours in. I have to check log
Top Expert 2013
i guess it was an usb 2 connection ?  the usb 3 should be nearly as fast as sata - but i don't know what happens if the drive has problems
then the usb protocol is not trustworthy, to say the least
thanks. yes, USB 2.  between the PCs and USB docking stations I'm using, I don't have a complete usb3 loop from 1 hard drive to the other... just put them inside the machine at this point.

 I'm muddling through with MC - midnight commander? an app that's on  this install of linux and the 2 drives connected direct with internal sata cables.

just taking time to move the data.  It seemed like 1.75GB / minute now... but it paused on a corrupt file and I lost time till I saw that.

Love to be able to get beyond compare working in linux.  Can't install it

I tried getting the .deb and rpx versions.  double click on those and it asks what I want to use to open them.

so I scroll down farther on

and see the tar.gz files.

got them unzipped and did the ./

it asks for the prefix folder [/usr] and I type that - /usr and when that fails, type other things,.

all the time giving error about a file not found

something like //usr/bin/.....  (not where the files were unzipped, which is Dwnloads/beyondcompare.....

 I think it is (sorry it was late and I can't reproduce it right now.)

Also, file / folder names are really long... is there only text / retyping the text the way to do commands in linux : ) ??
NerdsOfTechTechnology Scientist
I would never attempt to clone the drive 'directly' until after data recovery is complete (as a matter of fact, I wouldn't trust a system image from a drive with a high potential, or existence, of corruption either). I would consider the drive being fragile and would recommend using the drive minimally until all of your crucial files are recovered.

Personally, when I do data recovery on a drive that is malfunctioning, I'll run a live version of Linux (Debian or RHLE based usually: CentOS and Scientific come to mind) to see if the data is accessible (in the first place) and to bypass all of the windows permission issues.

Then in this windows-like-GUI Linux environment, I'll move the critical files over from the malfunctioning drive to a 'recovery' drive (usually a SATA or USB3 connected drive).

The main folders I start with are C:\Users\(username)\ ('C:' will be labelled something else in Linux). I'll start with the most critical or target files first (individually or small batches of files/folders; then, I'll move the less-important remainder in larger batches). I prioritize the files like this, instead of moving everything at once, because it is possible that the drive is ready to die at any moment or a full move could create more damage to the already fragile, drive.

Afterwards, I will install a new drive in place of the malfunctioning one, install the OS on the new drive, and move the files over from the 'recovery' drive to the new drive (and make the user of the freshly installed OS the new file 'owner' in Windows).

I hope this helps, as I have recovered countless drives commercially this way.
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

I would still suggest using Ubuntu ISO image to create a bootable USB Stick from it.
Ubuntu ISO can be downloaded from here:
How to create bootable USB drive:
Or here:

paragraph 1: yes, I agree with your thinking. I did get some critical files off the drive first, then tried the cloning.  Worthless background: I have a backup from 1 1/2 months ago. But there's a fair amount of end of year changes since that full backup. I think we got most of changes. But there were a fair amount of file rename / moving around of folders / files. So getting data directly from the old drive would be best.

para 2 &3 - exactly! just what I am doing (linux environment).  Funny you have to use something else to deal with windows.  I'd like a way in windows to have it ignore permissions. I think that's the key thing here - the permissions got corrupt / lost. Nothing more (yes, the drive IS old,so I am tossing it after this. and should have tossed it / moved to another drive a while ago. Moron me!

The key thing I think is my ignorance of linux. I know how to work around windows disk manager to access a drive (and windows will just give a working disk a drive letter when you connect it).  Seems linux is more tedious.  (more like it's just that I don't know what I am doing so it seems like it is harder than it should be.

for what it's worth, this is strictly a data drive. so no os reinstall, etc. just want to get the data onto a better drive.

I guess I will try to install one of the linux versions you suggest to see about installing beyond compare, a program I know from windows and would like to use their linux version.

So again, even under the different types (is that the right word - ubuntu, debian, etc..), there's subtypes - gnome,  etc?

Noxcho: thanks for those links. I'll try ubunto.  that link you gave me is for the installer ISO? Which is also the live ISO when you choose the right number at boot, per the 3rd link?  Is that always the case? I thought I was seeing 'install ISOs' and 'live ISOs' ?
NerdsOfTechTechnology Scientist

Some distributions of Linux have no progress indicators at all or not-so-good UI which forces you to use crude commands like PV to see what is being moved over.

The key is that the Linux you use has the right GUI with bells and whistles (I like seeing progress bars and filesizes, etc. myself in this type of job). Enter modern distros like CentOS (RHLE  based) and Ubuntu (Debian based). Debian and RHLE (Red Hat Linux Enterprise) based distributions Like CentOS are extremely reliable.

this is strictly a data drive. so no os reinstall

With a good drive, you could use Windows to cascade 'ownership' but that is risky on a failing drive. It's best to go the safe route and move files via a good Linux distro.

Then verify the files afterward from the good drive. If you like Beyond Compare, it works on Debian based distros.

Live boot from DVD or bootable flash drive, move files, verify files, mission accomplished.
Nerds:  thanks again... and to everyone else.  It's turning a bit into a preaching to the choir here.

Being overly cautious, I'm gathering data from 3 sources - the problem hard drive, a file by file backup made a month ago and a shadow protect image made 1 1/2 months ago.

Then on the windows machine, using beyond compare, deleting dupes, at least from the 2 backups.

as you say, move (I;m actually copying, so not to disturb the old drive much / let me go back to it) the data...

Yes!  Love to do that. But using Midnight commander and it's tedious.  there's a 'dive into subdirectory' check box when copying.  I thought that meant to go into sub directories to copy files.  seems that means, if the folder already exists, copy the data into a new subdirectory of that.

so side by side compare of good and bad drive.  both already have a folder bob.  Check that box and it copies bob folder from old into the new driive making \ bob\bob, doubling the data (sometimes the copy said stall while copying a specific file and I would stop the operation (realize now... should just say skip). then repeat... and it woudl copy all the files again : (

I posted this question... if i could get beyond compare running, I think I would be set... has the features I know and need (just show differences, so I don't recopy same files, etc.

feel free to take a shot at that.
Isha RIkhiData Recovery Expert

The best and the easy to use method is recover your lost data through data recovery software.You can use Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery-Software here and easily recover data as the software has the feature of creating an image of your hard disk and recovering data through it.
Top Expert 2013

in windows, you can use the unstoppable copier :
Thanks but 2 things.  

1) I’m on this path / challenge now to get beyond compare working. I know in Linux with drive mounted as read only I can get to the data. Don’t want to add some extra apps to read the data, possibly leave off / add things to a file.  Just want to do things natively.

2). Along the same lines, with hundreds of gigs of data, when a backup program takes all that and combines it into a single huge file, if 1 or 2 bits get flipped, does that corrupt entire file?   Or individual files in there?

As I collect the data from the different sources, I am using beyond  compare on windows to compare same files on different drives.  All have been the same..... so far

Also realizing I will never use / need many of the apps I have on there taking up space - after dark Star Trek screen saver from ‘90s?  Old games that are on the web anyway, etc.
Top Expert 2013

most unused programs and softwares can be uninstalled from their directory, or from add/ remove programs
If anyone ever gets all the way down this far in this thread with really nice helpful people.... and one butthead on a slow long learning curve, keep this 1 piece of info I can offer the world:

The live versions of Linux are for TRYING linux and the apps that might come preinstalled on it.  If you want to do much more like install other apps, INSTALL LINUX ON A HARD DRIVE FIRST.

I wasted people's time here and in another question trying to get beyond compare installed on the Live version of Ubuntu and RescueCD.

I heeded NerdsOfTech's comment to install Linux on a hard drive and.... viola!!

BC installed with the 4 lines they supply. No errors, no extra commands.

I don't doubt the experts here COULD likely get BC and other apps installed on the live version. But for us needing to rely on the experts.... save them and your time and just install the OS on a hard drive. THEN install the app you want.
NerdsOfTechTechnology Scientist

We all learn together and I thank you for the question as well as the opportunity to solve the 'puzzle' presented.

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