What's left to try on a dead SeaGate before paying for data recovery?
July 3, 2009 3:30 AM   Subscribe

500GB internal SeaGate hard drive disappears from Windows, Linux, and the BIOS. What can I try before I pay to have the data recovered?

Tested it with a few different operating systems and a few different machines, and though it always "spins up" this year-old SeaGate drive, configured with no operating system and a single partition, doesn't show up anywhere to mount or browse, like it's just not there. Besides the well-documented freezer trick, what's left to try before I send it to one of several MeFi-recommended recovery companies for $1000 or more?
posted by Avenger50 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard some people have success by swapping out the logic board on the hard drive with one from a working (new) drive of the same model. Assuming the mechanics of the drive are still functional, this might work in your case.
posted by knave at 3:45 AM on July 3, 2009

With Linux, the dmesg command shows you the kernel's mumblings to itself. If anything odd happens with a piece of hardware and the kernel notices, there will be at least one, if not a seemingly endless stream, of messages about it. Just open up a terminal and run dmesg, or "dmesg | less" to scroll through the output more slowly. lshw, lspci and/or lsusb should show something about the drive if it is spinning up, perhaps this could give some more info.

Some basic knowledge about the hardware plus some googling and these tools can tell you quite a bit, in many instances.

Things to look out for in the dmesg output are a corrupt and therefore unmountable partition (data still available to an amateur via raw device with no special hardware needed), and input-output errors (be patient and give it lots of tries, but this will probably need a pro with special hardware).

Things to look out for in lshw, etc. are whether the controller for the device's bus is working properly, whether the device is present and recognized (if the device is not even being properly recognized this is also a hardware issue but likely an easier fix than input/output errors).
posted by idiopath at 3:55 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

If this is a SATA drive, and the controller is on the motherboard, make sure the SATA-related BIOS settings are all kosher. I have seen several BIOSes mysteriously forget how their SATA controllers are supposed to be configured.
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 AM on July 3, 2009

No help here, but a note that the freezer trick is only useful if the drive fails to spin up. Since yours in already spinning up, freezing it won't accomplish anything useful.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:51 AM on July 3, 2009

Maybe the SD15 bug? info here
posted by rus at 5:20 AM on July 3, 2009

As rus suggested, your drive may be affected by a firmware bug. See here, as well as the link provided above. Note that the person from the AskMeFi thread I linked to got her data back intact after sending her drive to Seagate, free of charge.

Hote that helps!
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:09 AM on July 3, 2009

I know people who have had luck recovering data with tools like Disk Warrior or you can try software for repairing "bad sectors" of your disk like MHDD or HDAT2.

Hiren's Boot CD (you can find it to download around The Bay area *wink*) also has a ton of recovery/repair tools you could look into.
posted by tybeet at 6:11 AM on July 3, 2009

Does it show up as RAW in Disk Manager? If so, you may have botched the permissions on the root node before installing a new OS.

Approach to this is to boot Windows in Safe mode, see if the disk appears in My Computer, and if so, right click the drive and select Properties. You will have a Security tab, which you wouldn't have had in regular Windows mode. You can take Ownership of the root directory and all the folders and files.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 9:11 AM on July 3, 2009

What was the partition formatted as?
Have you tried switching the header or swapping the cable that the drive is plugged into (on the motherboard)? Ensure that the port is enabled in BIOS
I have a motherboard where the first SATA port never worked right. I just have to remember to use the others instead.
posted by ijoyner at 7:18 AM on July 5, 2009

I want to sincerely thank everyone who replied to this thread. rus and Simon Barclay had the particular solution, and my drive is being shipped free from Seagate with my data recovered. It was 500gb of music and I could cry.

Thanks again.
posted by Avenger50 at 11:26 AM on July 8, 2009

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