Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recovering a failed hard drive. Part I, the problem.

Two weeks ago I was going through old computer parts I stored in a box when I came across 6 defunct hard drives. What I mean by defunct is that the data inside them is not accessible any more for a bunch of different reasons. Data loss is one of the nightmares of any computer user, and all hard drives will eventually fail: it's not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. Since I've had personal computers for more than ten years, it only makes sense that I have a fair collection of failed hard drives.

The problem

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 tool
Not being a complete newbie in the field of hard drive recovery, I knew of some tools that could help. A previous attempt with a tool called "Spinrite" was foiled by my own lack of patience. It was a lengthy process which I ended up cancelling not even half way in; however, this was a long time ago, maybe some new tools came up in the mean time. So I hit Google for possible solutions: after a lot of reading in forums and other webpages, Spinrite was still the tool that most people pointed at. So I went ahead and got that.

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...)


  1. Oooh I hope it went well. I have two internal hard drives I made into external ones. The computers themselves gave out before the drives did.

  2. Hope it did go well. I only wish I knew half the things about recovering failed hard drives as you.
    Cannot wait for part 2

  3. I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I'm assuming having a
    blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I'm not very internet smart so I'm not 100% positive. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Feel free to surf to my web blog ... Taco Bell

  4. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this
    website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz answer back as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. kudos

    My site: grand theft auto liberty city cheats ()

  5. I have been surfing online more than three hours today,
    yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and
    bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

    Here is my web site: mexican restaurants

  6. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I've truly loved browsing your weblog posts. After all I'll be subscribing
    for your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

    Review my web blog :: remy hair ::

  7. This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am actually pleassant to read everthing at one

    Feel free to visit my web site ... girl games