Friday, May 4, 2012

Recovering a failed hard drive. Part II, the solution

Getting SpinRite to start working is really easy. With the burnt CD inside the CD drive, all one has to do is turn the computer on, with the intended hard drive to recover connected, and wait some time. A welcome screen with clear options tells you what you need to press for which operations, and off you go.

SpinRite has different “levels” of operation, for different functions. The default and recommended level is level 2, which will scan the contents of the disk and attempt to recover whichever sectors are damaged or unreadable. I chose this option and let it go. At first, the scan seemed to go quite fast. Obviously the scanned parts were healthy and were duly being skipped. After about 12 hours of operation, the screen was telling me it was 2.89% done, trying to repair the first bad sector… at which point I understood it was going to take a while, lost interest, and turned the screen off. I let it work for around 12 hours before I checked on it again.

It was still stuck at 2.89%. After a couple more hours and no progress, I decided to restart the computer and try with a lower level of scanning, which is something I should have NOT done because SpinRite can change the level of operation on the fly without any need to restart.
For my next attempt I downgraded to Level 1, hoping it would recognize the bad sectors and block them off altogether. All I wanted after all was to access whichever data was left on the good sectors, not really recover that which had been lost.

After a while of running it got to the dreaded 2.89%. I was beginning to lose hope since it was stuck at it again. After long hours, success, it was past the previous mark and scanning many good sectors. When a bad sector did appear the program would slow down and get to scanning it.

All in all I think I let it run for a week. After so much time, it reached a point where it seemed to be stuck again, at 82.49%. I armed myself with patience and let it run and run, however, for a whole week it was stuck at that point. It was clear that the program would either take too much time for it to be worth it, or there was something deeply wrong with the hard drive and it would not finish anyway.
I rebooted the computer and logged into Windows, just to check if the completed repairs had done any difference, but it would still be inaccessible, freezing my whole system while I tried to open the drive.
So there you have it. No success at all on my first attempt.

I will try again with a very small, very old hard drive I have laying around, a 4.3 GB drive from my first computer, in 1999. I’m hoping something with a very small capacity will take a lot shorter, but I’ll leave that for another time.


  1. Hopefully a smaller capacity will mean less time. That seems like quite a long time, the data would have to be really worth it.

  2. Ugh, final output sucks. But the process, though eventually unsatisfactory, was interesting. Perhaps cuz I don't know how to recover failed hard drives =)
    Hope the next one works like a charm

  3. If you get this right, you'll save me buying another hard drive for my laptop. Please? <3

  4. Unless there is something really important on these HDs perhaps it's time to just let them die.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Well if someone worries about hard drive health, he must have hard drive inspection software. If not have that then backup is the suitable solution for it and when crash hits HD and have no backup then ultimate solution is recovery software. One thing must remember, try to select old recovery software suppliers having record and having clear conditions like diskdoctors which follow "no recovery-no charges policy” and is reliable recovery software suppliers.
    raid recovery software