Can I recover my data from my hard drive?

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casimps1

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Jun 17, 2004
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OK, here's my setup:

Athlon XP 2200
512 MB DDR RAM
20GB Primary IDE master - C: (with OS installed)
80GB Primary IDE slave - D: (no OS - data and other stuff)
CD/CDRW Secondary IDE
Win98SE

Everything has been working fine for about a year now and then suddenly, this weekend I hit some problems. While my computer was sitting idle I noticed it suddenly went to a blue screen that said something like "error writing to C: drive". So, I rebooted and then the BIOS (Phoenix) started hanging on the "Detecting IDE drives..." POST message. It hung for about 10 seconds and then couldn't find either drive on the Primary IDE channel.

So, my first impression was that the master drive was at fault. Through some trial and error testing, I found that actually, the slave drive (80 GB) is the problem. The master works fine without the slave attached, but as soon as the slave is there, it freezes on the POST message. Sometimes the 80GB drive is detected by the BIOS, sometimes not. It seems to be fairly random when the BIOS can detect it. Even when it is detected by the BIOS, Windows/DOS cannot read from the drive (gets a "cannot read from media" or some such error).

I've narrowed it down to definitely being the slave drive because the same symptoms show up when it is plugged into a different system altogether. As a sanity check I have also tried different IDE channels, different cables, different jumper settings, and making the drive settings in the BIOS manually rather than auto-detect - all with the same results.

So, there's obviously some issues with the drive. Now the big question is, can I get the data on the drive off of it somehow? More specifically, can I (or someone else) do that without voiding the warranty and without costing me several hundred dollars? I have a lot of game saves and other data on the drive which would be a real pain in the butt to lose, but not enough to pay that much cash out.

Or is there something else that I might be missing? Is there some kind of boot disk tool that could maybe access the drive when Windows cannot (on the occasions when BIOS can detect the drive)?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
 
Joined
May 5, 2003
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1,298
The freezing idea can work. First you put it in a plastic bag to protect from condensing moisture. Suck out the air and seal tight. Put in fridge overnight.

A couple other things to try.

Put the slave drive into another WinSE machine, sometimes it will work.

Change the CMOS battery. When the battery is on the verge of failing very strange hardware things can happen that make no sense.

Set up the drive to be the only hard drive, configure as Master and boot in DOS from a bootable floppy. Attempt to switch to the hard drive. See if you can read the drive that way.

Down to searching for straws but sometimes it can work.
 

casimps1

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 17, 2004
Messages
4
Cosmic said:
The freezing idea can work. First you put it in a plastic bag to protect from condensing moisture. Suck out the air and seal tight. Put in fridge overnight.

A couple other things to try.

Put the slave drive into another WinSE machine, sometimes it will work.

Change the CMOS battery. When the battery is on the verge of failing very strange hardware things can happen that make no sense.

Set up the drive to be the only hard drive, configure as Master and boot in DOS from a bootable floppy. Attempt to switch to the hard drive. See if you can read the drive that way.

Down to searching for straws but sometimes it can work.
Well, apart from the freezing (which I am really hesitant to do since it is currently warrantied and I don't want to jeopardize that) I have tried all of the other suggestions with no success. I've tried different systems, different jumper settings, different cables, different OS'es, nothing seems to help.
 
Joined
May 5, 2003
Messages
1,298
They won't know you gave it a bit of a chill. Lots of people have done it.

There is another theory that it can be made to work by giving it a gentle shaking in different planes. Put your elbows on a table, grip the drive with both hands, rotate it into different planes and gently shake it.
 
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