Computer Related > Recovering data from broken hard drive Miscellaneous
Thread Author: Dave_ Replies: 16

 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Dave_
I'm hoping some of the tech people on here may be able to help.

My friend has got an external hard drive which decided last week to go all dead on him. It's a Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS 320GB model. He's bought an identical unit as a replacement and as he works in software has asked a couple of more practical people to have a look. Despite swapping simple parts over the corrupt drive still only "clicks" and won't spin up.

Is there anything else he can do, or can you recommend anywhere that can magic it all better for him? All the photos and videos of his 18 month old son are on there, not to mention a fairly extensive iTunes library.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Tooslow
Dave, if the disk has crashed then there are metaphorical spirals of metal swarf curled around inside the drive casing and it's as dead as a dead thing. Drive crashes DO happen. I've dealt with more than I care to remember professionally and one personally. I hate to lecture but he should have been using it as a backup drive with the originals on his internal drive.

I do hope I'm wrong and someone can suggest something.

 Recovering data from broken hard drive - car4play
Data recovery companies do just that - they take the disks out of the dead drive and put them in a functioning unit. The unit should only be opened in a clean room because otherwise any dust in there will get between the read/write heads and the disk and ruin it.

It sounds from what you describe that the spindle motor has gone. If the data is really important to them they are better off paying one of these companies to do it for them and hopefully by opening the unit it hasn't caused further damage. It is usually quite expensive - around a grand or so for this kind of service.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - smokie
...and if they don't want the expense, and have nothing to lose, they can always give the drive the same treatment as I have done successfully on a non-starting clicking iPod drive more than once. A sharp hit with a solid object.

Having trawled around the net I could find no way of recovery, so had nothing to lose. Obviously the risk is that the heads touch the platter and goodnight vienna, but in my case it has worked successfully a number of times. In your case, if they happen to try it, obviously next step would be to immediately recover the data and junk the drive.

EDIT: just thought, I also had the problem with a 1Tb USB drive and cured it in the same way before RMAing the drive.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 21 Apr 10 at 09:31
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - car4play
I agree - if the heads have got stuck to the drive platters, then often a sharp tap (with the drive power on - v important) will unstick them and give you enough time to get your data off.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Zero
The clicking sound mechanical.

The disk may have stiction, we suffred a spate of this at my previous employer. Stiction is where the head sticks to the drive and prevents the platter spinning up, or the bearings stick or the motor looses it start up ability.

You can take the drive out, hold flat side down in your hand and flick it away from you (Like you were trying to spin a cricket ball - but dont throw it!) Worked 70% of the time.

You can take the drive out, fix it up with a longer than normal power lead power it up and try flicking the who drive round with your fingers. Once you have it spining dont power it down and plug the data cables in. worked the other 20% of the time.

Or of course its had major internal failure. Unless the surface of the platter has been scraped off, the data can be recovred by specialist firms at specialists costs.

 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Crankcase
My guys had a crashed server a couple of weeks ago and had spent most of the day trying to recover it. They'd worked out it wasn't coming back and deployed "emergency plan six", which was going to take some overtime, a weekend of testing etc etc.

I left them arguing, went to the server room and thumped the front of the thing reasonably firmly, went back and said "try it now".

I'm still basking in the glory, and hope they don't read this.

 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Iffy
...and thumped the front of the thing reasonably firmly...

Reminds me of sticking pistons on SU carburettors.

A Maxi was pumping petrol over its manifold at a good rate until someone who knew what they were doing gave it a sharp tap with a hammer.

"That will be £20," he said to the customer. "£5 for doing the hitting and £15 for knowing where to hit."

 Recovering data from broken hard drive - rtj70
If this is an external disk then I assume it's connected via USB (or maybe eSATA or Firewire). I have had an external disk get corrupt before now that would not work in the external enclosure. It needed to be fixed at a file system level but doing this via USB was not possible.

So what I would personally try with this disk before physically hitting it...

- Take out the drive from the external casing
- Connect to a working PC - probably via a SATA cable
- Check the file system with chkdsk
- Fix any problems with chkdsk

If the above work then get the files off it. If the above does not work then it might be a costly job for a data recovery company.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - smokie
...but beware - some external drives won't be immediately or easily recognised under Windows - my WD NAS runs a flavour of Linux which meant that it is not formatted using NTFS and Windows would only see it as data partitions. I can't quite recall the details but it certainly wasn't absolutely straightforward. I know I could have got Windows drivers for it but I wasn't too keen on that.

I think the OPs drive would be OK though.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - rtj70
Good point smokie. Only do what I suggest if a normal USB type external disk that was formatted for use on the computer. It will probably be FAT32 or NTFS on Windows. HFS+ on an Apple computer.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Victorbox
One other last ditch "repair" is to deep freeze the hard drive overnight - the theory being you create enough free play in a seized bearing for it to run for the minute or three you need to get your data off it.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Soupytwist
I used a data recovery company based in Southend on Sea to retrieve the data from an external hard drive about 18 months ago. They didn't get absolutely everything off it, but they did get the vast majority. I can supply the details if you want. Cost about £350 for a 250GB drive.
Last edited by: Soupytwist on Thu 22 Apr 10 at 13:09
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Dave_
Thanks all. As I mentioned above, it's my friend who's suffered the disk failure. As tempting as the prospect of recovering virtually all the data may be, he's not so keen to spend £300+ on doing so. He's managed to get copies of a lot of the baby photos from people he'd emailed them to a year ago, plus the iTunes music library only becomes an issue if his iPod gives up the ghost.
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - RattleandSmoke
If anybody askes me what guarentee a hard drive comes with my reply is always "it will fail".

That said my backup is not update either! Best to do it now!
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - Bellboy
some customers got my backup today
a nice solid hardrive placed appropriately would have been nice
 Recovering data from broken hard drive - rtj70
If the following is true:

- It's a standard external USB hard drive with an NTFS or FAT32 file system (probable if Windows)
- They are writing the drive off due to cost to fix

Then there's little to lose doing what I suggested. Connect the drive in the USB enclosure directly to a PC. It's either a SATA or maybe a PATA connection to the drive with the USB enclosure bridging between them and USB.

Powering down a USB drive without disconnecting in Windows first (a bus powered 2.5" USB drive) had me unable to mount the drive using the USB connection. But all the drive needed was CHDSK running. Might be worth a punt still.

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