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Best course of action for recovering data from failing HD?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by James-, Apr 19, 2010.

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  1. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    I think I'm close to solving this - I just need to know the best tools. My main hard disk suddenly failed the other day... I'm not sure if it's a mechanical failure, or was just seriously corrupted by a faulty CPU (due to overheating maybe).

    Anyway, it's a SATA hard disk (WDC WD4000KD-00NAB0). It's split into 4 NTFS partitions, with the Windows (C:/) seeming to be the most damaged. I removed it as the main HD and connected it as a secondary to another computer. Didn't want to boot into Windows, because it kept trying to run chkdsk on it, and I want to access it as little as possible to preserve what's still there.

    What I'm thinking at the moment is to make a clone of the disk, and then run data recovery on that, so I'm not reading from the failing HD more than is necessary. I don't know too much about this, but I think software that reads by sector rather than by file would be better? I have UBCD4Win ready on a boot disk, and a few external HDs which I can partition if necessary.


    I already tried making an image/clone of the smallest partition with RunTime's DriveImage XML (not in RAW mode). It gave me a 40gb .dat file (which is about right), but the XML it gave me was very incomplete. It had only 'indexed' 1/10 of root level folders, the rest were empty. Maybe because the folder structure was corrupt (I got about a dozen Cyclic Redundancy Check errors during the copy)? Is there anything I can do with this massive .dat file or is it worthless?

    Something I am thinking about trying next is Roadkil's Raw Copy. If I understand correctly, I can make a 50GB partition in one of my externals, then RawCopy will duplicate the drive contents into it, so I can do recovery on it without making the condition of the failing HD worse by accessing it too much.



    So, what I think I would like recommendations for (preferably free software):
    1) Programs to create an image of the HD, that won't give up on read errors and will just get the job done
    2) Data recovery programs to use on the image

    Really grateful to anyone who can help me with this. Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    When I attempt a data recovery, the very first thing I do is make an image of the drive. You can then mount the image and copy/recover whatever you want.

    I use and recommend acronis true image for all imaging/cloning. It is not free however it is the best imaging app you can find.

    If you cannot make an image, then you can attempt to recover files using a recovery app. There are many free ones however I use O&O recovery; not free however it works very well.

    From your post, I assume you do not have a backup of this drive. Remember data you do not backup is data you do not care about. All drives fail; it is only a question of when your drive will fail.
     
  3. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    Yeah I was careless by not backing all of it up :/ won't make the same mistake again.

    I've heard a lot of people mention Acronis TrueImage, and I suppose $50 isn't that bad. But I'd like to know: is it possible to run without Windows (from a boot disk)? And when you say 'mount' it, what program do I use for that, or does TrueImage cover that as well?
     
  4. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Yes, it runs from a boot disk that the program has you make. You must first install, then make the boot disk. What is the problem with running from windows?
    BTW it is only $35 and no tax however there is $2.00 shipping.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832200011

    To mount an image, you simply choose to mount it from the acronis app. This gives the image a drive letter and lets you copy whatever you want. I do not think you can mount from the boot disk however I would have to check that.
     
  5. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    When I tried booting into Windows (Vista) it said it needed to run checkdisk on it. Even though I skipped the operation before it could start, it got stuck on "Checkdisk has been stopped" and the HD started making a lot of whirring and clicking noises.

    This didn't happen anywhere through the process of making an image with DriveImage XML, so I just feel it's safer not using Windows which might try to fix the drive itself, causing more damage.
     
  6. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Here is what I would do.
    1 Install acronis
    2 Make the boot or rescue disk
    3 Shutdown and connect your problem drive to the system you installed acronis on.
    4 Boot with the acronis boot disk and make an image of the problem drive. Save it on a working hard disk.
    5 Shutdown and pull the pw connector from your failed drive. Now pw on.
    6 Boot into windows and run acronis ti. From the tools and utilities menu, choose mount image. Your image is now given a drive letter ie K, Q, whatever. In windows explore or my computer, simply click the drive letter and copy whatever you want.

    Remember this is predicated on being successful in making the image from the boot disk.
     
  7. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    Ok thanks, I'll give this a try. I've installed Acronis, made the disk image and just having a look through the backup options. What would you recommend for the following options:

    1) "Sector-by-sector copy (requires more space)" (default NO)
    2) "Ignore bad sectors" (default NO)
     
  8. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    You posted you already made the image; can you mount the image and copy data?
     
  9. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    Sorry, my bad, I meant I made the Acronis boot CD. Haven't performed any backups with it yet, was just familiarizing myself with the options.
     
  10. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Leave sector by sector set to no.
    Have it ignore bad sectors; this will give you a better chance of recovering data. You may find a few files that are corrupted however if it does not ignore bad sectors, the image may not complete.
     
  11. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    Plugged the faulty HD in and rebooted into Acronis Boot CD again. As it's initialising (which is taking a lot longer than without the HD plugged in) it's giving me a lot of errors like:

    Failed to read from sector '78,104,241' of hard drive '2'
    [ Retry ] [ Ignore ] [ Ignore All ] [ Cancel ]

    Is this to be expected? Should I just 'Ignore' for them all?

    EDIT: I noted the numbers in the last 5 error messages:

    781,013,177
    781,013,178
    781,013,179
    781,013,181
    781,013,182

    There's about 30 seconds in between each message. I hope it's accessing them in some kind of random order, and there's a clump of bad sectors, and it's not crawling through at 30 seconds per sector?

    EDIT2: Never mind, after that last error message it finished initialising. So throughout the whole initialisation process there were only about a dozen sector errors.
     
  12. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Good luck. Remember there is no guarantee that you can recover anything. If you are not successful, then you can try taking the disk to a recovery shop however this is NOT cheap. If they have to disassemble the drive and attempt to read the platters, it can cost a lot of cash.

    It depends on how much the data is worth to you.
     
  13. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    Hmm, well I made an image of one of the partitions. Started up windows normally, opened up TrueImage and tried to mount it. It spent a couple of minutes on "Assigning letters to partitions", then blue screen of death :/. Any other ideas of what I can try with this image?

    EDIT: Ah, saw this: http://forum.acronis.com/forum/6202 and realised you can browse the image just by double clicking on it. Most of my files seem to be there and able to be copied out :). Thanks for all the help (but I may be back with more questions if the other drives don't work out so well)

    EDIT2: Actually, one question - after backing up this drive I noticed the HD was pretty hot. I've got it outside the casing of the computer, resting ontop of a cardboard box. Is that a bad idea? (It used to be in a cage so with the base exposed). Also would pointing a fan at it be any help?
     
  14. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    That is how I connect a drive to recover data or do a clone. I usually use a book to rest the drive on :)

    So you were able to copy your files?
     
  15. James-

    James- Thread Starter

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    Yep, the image looks perfect and I've been able to copy large amounts of files out of it already with no problems :).

    So you don't think the HD getting hot is a problem? The partition I recovered is the smallest one (40GB), but the largest is about 230GB, so I'm wondering if overheating might become a problem.


    Notes to self/anyone who finds this thread:
    * Can take up to a minute each time it reaches a bad/unreadable (?) sector before the message pops up, but after pressing 'Ignore' it continues onto the next sector.

    Failed to read data from the disk

    Failed to read from the sector '...' of hard disk '2'.
    TExT_LINEX_ERROR_COMMON_DIRECT_RW_FAILED (0x590001)


    * The bad sectors for me were usually in groups of 4/8/16 consecutive sectors, which can mean long patches where it looks like its frozen, but once it gets out of them it transfers fast. Same thing can happen during initialistion (bad sectors slowing it down), so it may take a while.
    * Don't press 'Browse' when choosing where to place the image - type the path in manually, othewise it reads the drive all over again
     
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