External drive was dropped and now won't mount, what are my options?
October 30, 2010 7:19 AM   Subscribe

I've got a great 1TB drive that was yanked off the coffee table...later started clicking...now won't mount...what to do?

Here's the error when I connect it to my Mac:
NTFS-3G could not mount /dev/disk1s2 at /Volumes/1000GBNTFS because the following problem occurred:

Failed to open $FILE_LogFile/$DATA: No such file or directory
Failed to mount '/dev/rdisk1s2': Input/output error
NTFS is either inconsistent, or there is a hardware fault, or it's a
SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows
then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very important!

If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g. /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the 'dmraid' documentation for more details.

I don't know think there's any SoftRAID or FakeRAID involved here, but I coule be wrong. By the way, I am (was :/ using MacFuse to mount it on the Mac.
When I connect it to the little Acer Aspire Revo running Windows7, it says it's corrupted and can't be read. There's a lot of great tunes on it, you can feel my pain.

Can you all help with a solution I might be able to do myself? It was a hard disk + enclosure purchase that I put together, so I can remove it and do something with the disk itself if that's necessary. But I was hoping there was a software based solution.

Whatcha got?
posted by talljamal to Technology (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

1_ First try putting it into a freezer bag and freeze the drive. Than mount it this probably wont work but apparently it does in some cases. (you put it in a ziplock bag because otherwise your GOING to get condensation on the drive which can be VERY bad :P
This might give you another hour or so's worth of life out of it.

2_ Try to use linux I have no idea if there is still a working Ubuntu for mac but... here is a good link for a software fix to possibly combine with the FREEZER Method above.

3_ There is a way to do it thats the not so quick and dirty method....

Build yourself a glovebox and point a small fan directly at the drive inside the glove box and transplant your platters into an identical but functioning drive... With this method you will have to be sure to have the exact same model drive as your failed one EBAY is your saviour unfortunately here.
posted by Chamunks at 7:37 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Heres Some Simple Audio Diagnostics you can do with an ear and a sata cable...

Either way you are going to need to buy another drive to store your data on it because if your drive sounds anything like these noises your Pretty Close To Toast.
posted by Chamunks at 7:40 AM on October 30, 2010

She's dead Jim. Disk Warrior might get your directory back, but I'd be taking that drive out of service in the future even if you get the data back.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:40 AM on October 30, 2010

The freezer and fan method are usually helpful in keeping the drive cool, but they're often not necessary (or even particularly helpful).

Take the drive out of the enclosure and connect it to your Windows 7 system. Run GetDataBack for NTFS on the drive. If that doesn't work, then you have larger problems. In which case...

You might try using software such as X-Ways Replica 1.3. You would need another 1TB or larger drive and after getting a (mostly) valid copy of the drive, you might still have to use some sort of data recovery software like GetDataBack to actually get your files back. You would also want to take your drive out of the enclosure.

If BIOS doesn't recognize your drive and that data is really important to you, I recommend these guys. Their website is pretty cheesy, but I know from experience that they're very good. And if you don't get your data, you don't get charged.

Regardless, if your drive is clicking, it's shot. It's theoretically possible to repair, but it's a lot cheaper to just buy a new one. (I'm not going to describe how this would be done because you would only want to try it in a clean room environment with the appropriate equipment. A tiny little mistake could corrupt large swathes of data.)
posted by GnomeChompsky at 7:41 AM on October 30, 2010

Other than that Be Prepared to face the data recovery agencies and they will recover your data for a price of course.. (probably ranging from 500$ and up.)

Also there are alot of people on the internet who say DO NOT Open the drive as this is very true if you have some pretty big Cahone's you can like I said point a fan at the drive inside a glovebox and be pretty sure you wont have issues with contaminates but if anything at all gets on that platter it will cause problems.

The good news is if you do this you may be able to provide this service to friends in the future:P (I dont reccomend this lol)
posted by Chamunks at 7:44 AM on October 30, 2010

For what it's worth, data recovery services are cheaper than they used to be. They're still expensive, but it's easily possible that your data's worth it.

(Alternatively, if you ever manage to get the drive to spin up and mount, make sure you have another drive handy, and try ddrescue. It's a magical tool.)
posted by schmod at 7:54 AM on October 30, 2010

Don't put your hard drive in the freezer. If that ever worked, which I doubt, it was on older drives. Newer drives use fluid bearings and making the fluid cold like that will hasten the death of the drive. Plus, it is clunking and that is not the symptom of failed bearings in the first place. You are going to cause more trouble. If ANYTHING, this is a LAST resort, not a first try.

As for recovering the data, your options are pretty thin. It is clunking, that is a hardware fault. You are going to need a hardware solution. Sending it out is pretty much the only sane option. An insane option that might work is to open up the cover and see if something in there is broken. But doing this guarantees that you only have one shot at recovering it. Dust will get in there and louse everything up in short order.
posted by gjc at 9:05 AM on October 30, 2010

The freezer trick is for another issue where the heads are stuck to the platter. That doesn't sound like your issue. If your computer recognizes that there is a drive and you have ubuntu, you could use the disk utility (under system->administration) and check its SMART status, which might tell you more about what specifically is wrong, but that only really matters if there's data you care about on it that you haven't backed up elsewhere.

Otherwise either RMA it and have the manufacturer send you a new (to you) one. Most recent drives I've seen are rated to take shocks up to 150G (or 300 for some) if they're not operating at the time, so I don't think it's unethical to request a warranty replacement.
posted by wierdo at 12:49 PM on October 30, 2010

I've had luck reviving a couple of laptop HDs that wouldn't spin up using percussive maintenance - just plug in, lift a couple inches, and drop. It's going to corrupt some more sectors, inevitably, but basically I have to second what the platter-transplant guy says - these things are more robust than you'd think.

Good luck getting your data back, and as others have said, have a spare hard drive and dd-rescue standing by before you try anything.
posted by marakesh at 2:55 PM on October 30, 2010

I stand by my previous answer. You're not going to want to hear this, but there's nothing you can do. Put it in a fridge or decorate it with voodoo bones, it's not going to change the reality that the drive is dead.

Drive Savers can probably help you, but they advise against trying anything yourself. People do all kinds of things out of desperation then finally give them a call. They have a section on their site basically debunking the freezer method (and suggest that at that point you'd do that it's best to call in a professional).

They are super expensive. I could never afford them. You can find cheaper options (but not by much) and you get what you pay for.

Data loss sucks, but there's an axiom that "data that does not exist in two places does not exist."

I feel your pain. I did this exact same thing once. Once.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:30 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: So I gave the little drop method a go, since the freeze idea seem too far fetched, go figure. X Ways Replica seemed too complicated for me. I might try the platter swapping route, when I can find a doner drive. Btw, I just want to get the data off the drive, then I'll retire the thing....

Now the Windows machine can see the disk, although it said I have to format to use it. Not going to do that.

I found the open source testdisk_win SW and am seeing what this can do. I don't really understand what it does other than tell me about the problems with the sectors and cylinders etc...stuff over my head. It's running and analyzing 121600 cylinders of the main partition one by one. Even if I'm patient and let it run to completion, this won't solve/repair anything, so how do I get the data off the platter? Hmm, I'll continue my efforts.

Thanks for the help all so far! Any more guidance is welcome :)
posted by talljamal at 3:42 AM on October 31, 2010

Response by poster: ps. I'm going to print a poster that of the axiom cjorgensen shared. They're words to live by, digitally speaking.
posted by talljamal at 3:45 AM on October 31, 2010

Freezer Method Just haven't had it work for me yet. http://www.datarecoverypros.com/hard-drive-recovery-freeze.html Also, http://goo.gl/HCDU..
posted by Chamunks at 7:55 PM on October 31, 2010

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