December 29, 2012 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Might the Toshiba HDD Recovery tool save my ailing hard drive and me a wad of cash at the computer repair store?

I own a Toshiba Satellite laptop, couple years old. I put the old fellow through the ringer (it gets hours long daily use) and about 6 months after purchase the hard drive started to fail. I'm assuming that it's finally on it's way out now -- programs won't open, it's slow, attempting to backup the computer stalls, I've got I/O device errors out the yang, etc.

I've backed up everything I want to keep in the way of files -- I basically just copied all my photos and music and what-nots to an external hard drive -- and I plan on having it repaired next month.

I'm wondering though, Computer People, is it a good idea to attempt to repair it on my own if possible first? By that I mean is it a bad idea to attempt to run the HDD Recovery from the computer? When I get into it it warns me that when the recovery is executed, all data will be deleted and rewritten in big red letters and whoa, that's scary!

I'm fairly computer literate (meaning any issue I've ever had with my personal or work computer I've been able to fix with stealthy googling and hours of my time) but I'll be honest, I can't figure out if wiping the thing and running the repair might work in this instance, where I know the HDD is failing.

Is it worth a shot? If it's not, are there other remedies I should examine before shelling out a fat wad of cash to have this professionally fixed?
posted by youandiandaflame to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What option are you choosing from the recovery tool? Ordinarily a repair attempts to recover data, it doesn't delete it. Is it warning that data might possibly be lost or that it will be lost?
posted by empath at 5:13 PM on December 29, 2012

Oh, just read the documentation for the program. It doesn't repair, it just restores it to factory default. So yeah, if you run it, all your data will be deleted. There are other programs out there that will actually try and repair the drive and recover your data. If you've already got all your important stuff off, then I wouldn't bother. Just replace the drive.
posted by empath at 5:16 PM on December 29, 2012

If you know your hard drive to be failing, running a recovery tool isn't going to fix it. The Toshiba website states that all the HDD Recovery tool will bring your computer back to factory settings. It's not going to fix a dying hard drive - you'll still see I/O errors, freezing, slowness, etc.

Fixing the issue is going to involve a new hard drive, and reinstalling your OS of choice.
posted by smangosbubbles at 5:19 PM on December 29, 2012

I just went through this with my 1 1/2 year old Satellite. I saved what I wanted and bought another hd on ebay, but I never made the recovery discs beforehand. Toshiba charged me $30 (US) for shipping and handling to send me them.
posted by jara1953 at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2012

Response by poster: Welp, hell. I'll go ahead and order my discs from Toshiba (as I mentioned, I can't back up or pull anything from the computer other than pics, etc., because of I/O errors) but if I wanted to buy another hard drive for this laptop, how would I even know what to get?

Recommendations? Advice?
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:46 PM on December 29, 2012

You really don't need to order the disk from Toshiba - it is quite likely that your laptop can use any common 2.5" SATA drive. (To be sure, google "replace hard drive on YOURcomputerMODEL", and see if there is a lot of moaning about not being able to replace the drive.) Most 2.5" disks are 9.5mm thick, but there are some computers which require 7mm disks. This might be a problem if you've got an ultraportable laptop.

I would recommend buying a cheap SSD disk if you don't need a lot of storage (i.e. 512gb or more), or a disk with an SSD cache if you do need 512gb/1tb. An SSD can really make your computer fly, and they're not that much more expensive than the old "spinning platters" disks.

It might be worth it to buy a cheap external case for your existing disk, since it is a laptop 2.5" disk it can most likely be the simplest kind, without an external power adapter. That way you can connect your old disk to your computer if you should need to.

What I personally do when a disk is failing is to boot from a Linux (usually ubuntu) USB stick, then DD rescue to copy the old disk to the new one, with several retries on any IO errors. That might take a day or two, but it unattended. This is not what I would call straightforward, so should only be considered if you want the learning experience. (After having done it once it is of course much easier)

Oh, and as someone else commented, you might want to find or create the "restore CDs". (If you can get your hands on a Microsoft OEM installation CD you might also reuse the serial number on the sticker on the bottom of your computer.)

Good luck! :)
posted by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen at 6:06 PM on December 29, 2012

My Toshiba netbook started misfiring about a year ago and after some online research I flashed the BIOS which gave it a new lease of life.
posted by essexjan at 6:28 PM on December 29, 2012

I support the Baron's response, above, and contribute only to add this: sometimes SSDs come with disk enclosures. My employer is an OEM that buys off-the-shelf SSDs and some of them come with enclosures, while others came with a clever cable that was 2USB plugs at one end, a full SATA (power+data) at the other. 2 birds, one stone in your case.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:08 AM on December 30, 2012

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