As I piled them up I began wondering if I could recover any of these. Which forgotten files could I uncover?
Taking a trip down memory lane felt like a good thing to do, so I decided to go ahead and try to fix one of these hard drives. I picked up the very last one that died on me. It's a Maxtor with 120GB of capacity and it connects through SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), so it's quite a recent model (compared with a 4.32 GB IDE hard drive I have laying around).
I plugged the disk in and turned my computer on. The usual whirr and clicks of a working hard drive could be heard, so I knew there and then the disk's problem was not a hardware fault. It was recognized by the motherboard's BIOS, with it's correct size and all; there was still hope. However when starting windows, the whole system would start freezing and cramping: this was clear indication the disk was trying to be accessed but failing. By own experience, it's a clear sign of bad sectors on the hard drive's surface. A program could be used to either try to recover these bad sectors, or block them off, trying to regain access to the unaffected portions of the hard drive.
The 'installation' is pretty straight forward: the program itself can either burn a bootable CD (recommended option), install itself on to a floppy disk (I don't have a floppy drive, honestly, who does any more?) or on to a USB drive (I tried this but my motherboard would not boot from it).
With the CD created, and the motherboard configured to boot from the Optical Drive instead of the Hard Drive, I started the process.
(to be continued...)