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Retrieving Data From An Old Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by krayfish, Jan 26, 2011.

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  1. krayfish

    krayfish Thread Starter

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    Hi guys, my old PC crashed a year or so ago and I'm trying to retrieve data from the hard drive that I kept. My old PC wouldn't get past the welcome screen then restarting. I tried a recovery disc and did things that were beyond my level of capability. In the end the PC wouldn't even boot up, if I recall, it wouldn't even recognise the hard drive as being there. To cut a long story short, I'm not sure if my old hard drive is damaged or not. I don't have the model number to hand but it was a 160GB sata drive

    If the hard drive is undamaged can I retrieve data simply by buying a sata hard drive enclosure (my new PC is sata too) and either transferring files to my new PC or even keeping my old drive as an external drive?

    If there is a virus on my old drive, can it infect my new PC?

    If there isn't a virus, is there any danger of any damage whatsoever being done to my new PC by this process?

    My old OS was XP, my new one is Windows 7 - is this of any importance?

    A less important question is do I have to have my new PC switched off when I plug the enclosure in (I believe they have their own power source), can I turn the external drive on/off or unplug it whenever I like?

    If the old drive is damaged in some way, would putting it in an external enlcosure be pointless, or is there still a way to retrieve data from it?

    Many thanks
     
  2. pip22

    pip22

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    If the hard drive is undamaged can I retrieve data simply by buying a sata hard drive enclosure (my new PC is sata too) and either transferring files to my new PC or even keeping my old drive as an external drive?

    Yes you can.

    If there is a virus on my old drive, can it infect my new PC?


    Yes it can, but only by actually running an infected executable file which is on the old drive.
    The first thing to do therefore, immediately after connecting the old drive to your PC, is to run a full virus check on it before opening or executing any files which are on it.

    If there isn't a virus, is there any danger of any damage whatsoever being done to my new PC by this process?

    None at all.

    My old OS was XP, my new one is Windows 7 - is this of any importance?

    No, not for what you want to do.

    A less important question is do I have to have my new PC switched off when I plug the enclosure in (I believe they have their own power source), can I turn the external drive on/off or unplug it whenever I like?

    Most external enclosures plug into the PC using a USB cable -- you can plug the enclosure into the PC even with the computer switched on (USB was designed to allow this). However, before you unplug any usb storage device from the PC
    you must click the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon which sits in the System Tray of Windows 7 and wait until you
    see the "this device can now be safely removed" message.

    If the old drive is damaged in some way, would putting it in an external enlcosure be pointless, or is there still a way to retrieve data from it?

    The only surefire way of knowing if any data can be retrieved from it is to put it in an enclosure and try it, rather than just taking someone else's word that you're wasting your time. It won't damage your new PC, and if it does prove to be unreadable you can always buy a new drive for the enclosure and use that for extra storage or backups, so either way you won't be wasting your money.

    Just remember to first check the old drive for any viruses as soon as it's connected up and Windows has detected it.
     
  3. krayfish

    krayfish Thread Starter

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    Great information there pip - many thanks :)
     
  4. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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  5. pip22

    pip22

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    You will most likely need to take ownership of the files in question.

    True, I just didn't want to cause "information overload" for the OP to take it all in!

    Thanks for that, crjdriver :)
     
  6. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Just for info, you do not have to use the safely remove icon. What that does is flush the cache. If there are any files being written, etc it will finish before telling you it is safe. If you just wait a few min after copying or whatever, you can just pull it out. I do this all of the time with flash drives.
     
  7. krayfish

    krayfish Thread Starter

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  8. krayfish

    krayfish Thread Starter

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    To update:

    I found it very easy to use the enclosure, no problems setting it up or using it. My old hard drive appeared as drive P, I scanned it and was shocked to see it had over 900 infections, all win32/virut. I was prompted by AVG to fix them, but recieved a warning message that it could cause system instability or even a crash, but I went ahead

    After fixing the infections, I noticed my P drive shrank from 120GB of used space to 60GB - half of my data had gone! I was able to access files on the P drive without doing the ownership procedure. So the good news is that I have recovered half my files and have a clean 180GB external drive to use, should I need extra space in the future

    The bad news is I have also lost half my old files. It was strange because some pictures within a folder were saved and some were gone. I really don't understand how that worked

    My final question is, have the files that AVG 'fixed' now gone for good or is there still a way to retrieve them?

    Thanks for all the advice
     
  9. calvin-c

    calvin-c Banned

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    Much depends on how AVG fixed them. It doesn't sound like it was able to clean them else they would still be there-so it could have either quarantined or removed them. If it removed them, they're gone-but if it quarantined them they should still be in the quarantine vault which might be on your new drive, thus explaining why they disappeared from your old one. The question is, if they're infected & can't be cleaned how can you safely remove them from quarantine?

    Regarding unplugging USB drives, IIRC the default setting for XP was write caching so it was nearly required that you 'safely remove' the drive-but the default for 7 (don't remember about Vista) is to immediately write the data so, unless it's a big file that's being copied (or something else that you should know is going on) it should be safe to just unplug it-but my question is, why take the chance?
     
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