cannot access laptop hard drive

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xnera

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Jul 12, 2005
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I left my laptop running the other night and in the morning I had this error: 'A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart.'

Now, whenever I try to boot from the HDD I get this error.

I ran HDD Regenerator on it and it fixed(?) a bunch of bad sectors. I also ran SpinRite on it and no errors were found. I ran the Dell Diagnostics on the HDD and all the parts of the laptop (it's a Dell Inspiron 8100) and everything checked out fine. The bios still recognizes the hard drive and the size etc. The diagnostics and SpinRite also gave me all the proper disk information. So I know the disk is there, it's being recognized, the diagnostics says it can read/write/access/etc the entire disk.

But I still can't boot from it. When I boot from a floppy I can't type c: to access the drive (it says no drive found). I tried running the Windows XP installation to see about doing a repair, but the install hangs right after getting to the 'Setup is inspecting your computers hardware configuration' part.

I know I should try to put the drive in another computer to test it out, but I have to order the adapter to do that (the one computer store around here doesn't have it) so it will be a week or so until that comes in.

Until then, does anyone have any ideas on what else I might try? I'd really like to access the data on the hdd if I can.

Thanks.
 

DaveBurnett

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There is not a lot you can do until you can access it from elsewhere, and even then you must be careful you don't dig yourself into an even deeper hole.
The first thing you should really do is a full sector level (or forensic) back up of the disk. You can then try a program called PC Inpector File recovery, or one of the various partition recovery utilities and see if they can recover the partition table and let you get at the lMFT (NTFS) or FATs (fat32).
 

xnera

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Jul 12, 2005
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How do I do a full sector level backup? I assume I have to have it connected to my other PC to do that... (that cable is on order). If the other PC doesn't recognize the drive is it basically hopeless?

Also - any ideas on why all the utilities and bios and such think the disk is fine but I am unable to read it?

Thanks
 

DaveBurnett

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I use GHOST. See if you can borrow a bootable floppy with it on.

Those utilities may not check the file structure.
 

xnera

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Joined
Jul 12, 2005
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3
Well I got the adapter and put the laptop hdd into my desktop. Recognized by the bios etc all fine. On bootup for windows it said it needed to run chkdsk. The first time around I skipped it and looked at the hdd in explorer. It said it couldn't read the filesystem was corrupt (or something like that). the properties said the disk was 100% full (maybe why it got corrupt?).
Second boot I let the chkdsk run, and there were tons of messages flying by the windows was fixing this or that index or deleting this or that - too fast that I couldn't write it down exactly.
After the chkdsk, everything boots up fine and I can now see the disk in windows explorer. Only all my folders aren't there (and of course some of the few that I wanted!). I started browsing around to see what I could copy over to my desktop hdd, when I get a message saying the folder is inaccessible - then the whole drive disappears from the list in explorer.
So I rebooted to see if it shows in the bios, and wham, no longer is the bios even recognizing it.
Thoughts?
 
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