Failed disk drive data recovery
May 22, 2006 6:38 PM   Subscribe

DIY data recovery from failed disk drive: what low level diagnostics can I run?

My external LaCie Porsche-styled 250 GB drive quit showing up on XP, and makes a bit of a humming sound as well. Inside is a Barracuda 7200.8 with a lot of stuff I want on it. I've tried putting just the drive in the computer as an internal, and no dice.

What are my options now? Can I run any utilities to attempt to recover data, or at least give me some sign of still-glowing embers? I half remember one that would ask questions, and take model #'s, etc in an attempt to get the bios to recognize it.
posted by StickyCarpet to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd start with this:
posted by intermod at 6:40 PM on May 22, 2006

"I've tried putting just the drive in the computer as an internal, and no dice."

It depends upon what you mean by "no dice". What does your BIOS show when you've installed it internally? If it shows up there, then what does the Logical Drive Manager in XP show you?

What you're able to do with a low-level utility depends upon how your hardware and OS sees that drive. If the controller circuitry has failed, or if the drive hardware has failed (like a bad head crash), then you are not going to be able to recover the data yourself.

I don't think the live-cd Linux suggestion will be helpful for you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:00 PM on May 22, 2006

I'd recommend SpinRite by GRC. Really brilliant piece of software w/ good recommendations. Cost is $89, but worth it if you want to recover your data.

As a side note Steve Gibson does a podcast w/ Leo Laporte (the name escapes me) - he is quite good.
posted by gnash at 7:15 PM on May 22, 2006

I'm having the exact same problem with a La Cie 120 gig and ALL of my Macs. I tried Macs with 3 different OSs on them, including 9. I can't get the drive to mount. I've been going crazy the last two days trying to fix it.
posted by astruc at 7:40 PM on May 22, 2006

I haven't tried any of the techniques, but 200 ways to revive a hard drive and Fixing Windows with Knoppix might be of use.
posted by amcewen at 1:26 AM on May 23, 2006

Response by poster: intermod: This was interesting, but as others mentioned, it doesn't help here, where the bios isn't recognizing the drive.

Someone told me they had once used a utility that was a bios assist that allowed for some manual tweaking of the bios entry control, allowing for limited access of a wounded drive.

And, atruc, we're not the only ones. The second identical drive is showing the same signs, and they are only a few months old. Another friend bought 3 recently and 2 have since failed.

My older LaCie in the beefier mini-tower case has worked great for years, so I was disappointed in these.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:11 AM on May 23, 2006

I'd recommend SpinRite by GRC

SpinRite is heavy on the pseudoscience. Any utility does the same thing - read available sectors, write out data. dd_rhelp does this, initially skipping sectors that are unrecoverable. You can re-run or use other utilities that will try to read and re-read sectors, hoping for a break, filling in some blanks. SpinRite claims to use what amounts to numerology to reconstruct data, but really, it's just repeated read attempts.
posted by meehawl at 10:28 AM on May 23, 2006

For future reference, I was finally able to grab my data off the drive. I put it in the freezer (in a heavy-duty freezer bag), for a couple of days, hooked up the drive to my Mac, and then proceeded to whack it and shake it around in a highly unscientific manner (I suspected the drive heads weren't meeting the platter).

When I turned the drive upside down, it finally appeared on my desktop. I hauled all the files off while still holding the drive upside down.

It died again almost immediately thereafter, but I got my files off, and I will never buy a LaCie drive again.
posted by astruc at 11:18 AM on July 10, 2006

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