Is my HD SOL?
February 1, 2013 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I recently built a new PC and wanted to incorporate my WD green 1tb hard drive that contains my film collection. Many of these films were hard to obtain and would take a lot of time to replace. It is recognized in BIOS, but listed as 0GB? It is not recognized in Windows and I've tried all the standard troubleshooting methods...changing sata cables, ports, etc. It's definitely the drive :(

The drive was handled very carefully and is less than two years old so I'm not sure what's going on. It is recognized in BIOS, but listed as 0GB? It is not recognized in Windows and I've tried all the standard troubleshooting methods...changing sata cables, ports, etc. It's definitely the drive :(

I'm basically written it off at this point and I'm not willing to spend a thousand dollars at a data recovery center. Is there any hope of recovering this? Probably not but I love you guys anyway.
posted by WhitenoisE to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
What filesystem did you previously use?

Try an ubuntu live disk and see what it finds.
posted by srboisvert at 6:11 PM on February 1, 2013

In addition to the Ubuntu live disk, try connecting it to a Mac (if you have access to/can borrow one). This can work even if the drive is formatted as NTFS - it won't write to the drive, but I believe you can transfer data off just fine. I've seen a couple drives that wouldn't show in Windows or Ubuntu, but would in OS X (don't really know why).

But I agree with the above comment; I see at least a couple failing drives a week and we have the best luck with Ubuntu (not to say it always works).
posted by smangosbubbles at 6:36 PM on February 1, 2013

I agree with the above (i.e. using an Ubuntu live disk), however failing that try Recuva - I tried a few file recovery programs when I had a drive die on me a while back and this was by far the best. You might find you get them back minus titles (eg 000001.avi, 000002.avi, etc) but at least you'll have the content.

Good luck!
posted by etc at 7:37 PM on February 1, 2013

Hard drives are fickle and unpredictable. Age and handling make less difference than random failures. Always back up!

(But yes, trying different operating systems is the best way to solve the current problem.)
posted by gjc at 8:51 PM on February 1, 2013

Windows 7 can view HFS in a read-only fashion, and can also cope with FAT(12, 16, 32) and exFAT.

It's possible Windows is being a bozo about the partition type on the drive. Check disk-management (Right-click My Computer -> Manage -> Disk Management) and see how it shows up. Does it need a drive letter? Is Windows alarmed by its partition type? (Active, Extended, whatnot).

Recuva's a good program. Don't bother trying it if this disk is connected through USB-- it needs to be on the SATA/PATA bus.

Other things to check: if it's a PATA (IDE) drive, does it have the correct jumper position vis-a-vis master/slave/cable-select status? If it's SATA, can you try plugging it into a different SATA port? Or change the cable?
posted by Sunburnt at 9:17 PM on February 1, 2013

Was the drive working just fine until you rebuilt your PC, changing motherboard and other components? If so, try hooking it up to a setup as nearly identical to your old one as possible using your old motherboard and OS. If you can get it to work at all you can transfer the data to a second hard drive as backup, although you may have to figure out how to move the data from one OS to another. If you dumped your old parts and are desperate, you can pick up a used older computer from Craigslist with the same OS and BIOS you had before - it would cost, but not in the thousands of dollars.

I've built up and rearranged many computers and I'd be very surprised if a WD hard drive that's only a few years old had honestly failed for no reason. I think it's just a matter of making it happy in it's operating environment so it will talk to you again. Good luck.
posted by aryma at 12:16 AM on February 2, 2013

And absolutely check the jumper position and make sure you have all your drives and cables connected and jumpered correctly. Tears of frustration if one little teeny switch is in the wrong setting.
posted by aryma at 12:18 AM on February 2, 2013

If you do use Ubuntu/Linux (or, IIRC, Windows), and you get nowhere, try a program called PhotoRec. While not ideal, it enabled me to recover almost 1TB of stuff from a hosed USB.
Admittedly, a lot of the files were recovered as 0000001.000 and I had to manually figure out what they were, but it was easier than the alternatives.
posted by Mezentian at 5:42 AM on February 2, 2013

If the BIOS is reporting it as 0GB, it may be a problem with the controller card :( In that case, you would need to replace the controller card with the exact same brand and model of the bad drive. The last time I had to replace a WD controller card, I had to find the exact model, down to the exact facility it was manufactured in (in my case, Thailand). It may help to scour eBay and ask for pictures of the controller card to see if it matches your bad drive's exactly. "Exact Match" is the key phrase here.

If your BIOS isn't reporting the full size, then all other recovery efforts may not work either because of the bad controller card on the drive.

So yes, there is hope.
posted by nataaniinez at 2:32 PM on February 2, 2013

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