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File recovery

By joeretired ยท 11 replies
Jul 27, 2011
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  1. Here's the scoop. A friend of mine was running XP sp3, and his system started getting very slow and would not run properly. I ran malwarebytes, and found several errors, and corrected. System still wouldn't function right. Spent several hours trying various things with no luck. Decided to offload his files and reinstall xp. We managed to get his documents offloaded, but didn't have enough media for his photos. I removed hard drive and used my hardware connection package to hook it up to a usb port, on my system. The drive did show up, and I started to copy his photos. Get ready here it comes, he has 34g of photos from 11 years worth of saving on system without backing them up. My system has enough space to copy, but about 11g into copy my system started to give all kinds of errors that my avg, WD elements, etc weren't working. I canceled the copy and deleted the photos from my system, did a safe remove of the drive, ran a restore from a previous restore point for my system, All is well in the land of joeretired.

    Now here's where the problem comes in. When I reconnected the drive it no longer shows up with a letter assigned to it so I can access the drive. I checked "My Computer", and it's not there. Checked Device Manager, and it shows as a usb mass storage device, and properties says it's working properly. Device Management doesn't even see it. The questions are 1) why can't I see it anymore, 2) how do I get it back to copy the phots. Just for info's sake I'm going to copy them to flash drives, so my friend will have them backed up, and be able to view them when he wants.

    Any help in this matter is greatly appreciated, and if we meet I'll buy you a beer.
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,512   +65

    The most like reason for all of this (slow system, Windows not running properly, copy errors, drive not being detected etc..) is his hard drive is failing. What you probably just observed was the hard drive "timing out" while reading his data, most likely due to mechanical failure.

    The bad news here is it is no longer recognizable... It may have failed beyond the point of recovery. During the transfer, copying all that data stressed the drive and possibly aggravated the problem.

    If you let the drive sit overnight and give it another shot, it may or may not work again. If it is mechanical issues, there is little you or most people can do aside from pay crazy amounts of money for a data recovery service to extract data from the platters inside the drive.

    If you want a definitive answer as to whether it is a mechanical issue or not, you can run a WD diagnostic on it. "Read element failure" is what I think you'll find after running the utility. You may be able to use the Windows version to test the drive if you can connect it to a working system (sounds like that's exactly what you've been doing). http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?lang=en

    Other possible issues include bad sectors (sometimes repairable), file system problems (sometimes repairable, but you must find out if this is a hardware prob first) or electronic issues (the electronics are easily replaceable on most drives, but there isnt' a good way to determine if this is actually the problem or not without doing it).

    Good luck.
  3. joeretired

    joeretired TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks Rick I will try what you suggested. If it is what you suspect I'll let him know. I was looking around and found a program from CGSecurity called "TESTDISK". Due you think it might be worth a shot running this?
  4. joeretired

    joeretired TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Here's the results. left drive powered off overnight, for roughly 24 hours. Downloaded the software Rick suggested, attached the drive to usb port again, voila it was assigned a letter. Ran the downloaded software and it didn't find the drive. I opened up "MY Computer", and it showed as drive "F". Opened it up and saw a dozen or so folders, that were completely empty. This leads me to beleive the drive is fried. It went to the great fried drive god in the sky. I did manage to save some photos, but it wasn't the 11g, I thought, but only about 2g. Evidently when I was doing the orginal copy it must have went into loop, and gave me bad info. I'm now installing XP on his new drive. Talk to you soon.

    Thanks for your help

  5. minol

    minol TS Rookie

    Data recovery is the process of salvaging data from damaged, failed, corrupted, or inaccessible secondary storage media when it cannot be accessed normally. Often the data are being salvaged from storage media such as internal or external hard disk drives, solid state drives (SSD), USB flash, storage tapes, CDs, DVDs, RAID, and other electronics. Recovery may be required due to physical damage to the storage device or logical damage to the file system that prevents it from being mounted by the host operating system.

    The most common "data recovery" scenario involves an operating system (OS) failure (typically on a single-disk, single-partition, single-OS system), in which case the goal is simply to copy all wanted files to another disk. This can be easily accomplished with a Live CD, most of which provide a means to mount the system drive and backup disks or removable media, and to move the files from the system disk to the backup media with a file manager or optical disc authoring software. Such cases can often be mitigated by disk partitioning and consistently storing valuable data files (or copies of them) on a different partition from the replaceable OS system files.
  6. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,842   +193

    Take the hard drive out of the system

    use a freezer bag that locks
    use 1 paper towel folded
    insert HDD into bag
    put the paper towel on the side where the electronics are exposed
    seal and lock bag
    stick this bag in the freezer for 30 hours
    once 30 hours has finished
    remove from the freezer
    leave it in the bag
    let the HDD reach room temp
    remove from the bag
    attached back to the system
    you don't have to mount to system track with screws
    since you just trying to take off data
    time window to transfer data will be small though but you might be able to get it all.
    once done don't repeat the process
    this is a once shot deal
    Good luck!
  7. joeretired

    joeretired TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the tip, I'll give this a shot.
  8. joeretired

    joeretired TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Tipstir, did what you suggested and the drive did show a lot more folders but they were all empty. I just went and reinstalled xp on his new drive, and gave him what pictures I could save. Told him that he'll maybe have to go to professional recovery business if he wants to try and recover other pictures.
  9. uzbuk

    uzbuk TS Rookie

    I have been through an arduous recovery of my external 500GB HDD crash last month. it is a WD taken out form a Dell laptop.
    from my previous experience of recovering files from damaged partitions (probably 20 occasions) i knew as long as i don't write anything over a formatted drive, the data is recoverable. my best choice was Testdisk win 6.11. so, after having the same kind of detection and copying issues, i took the liberty of deleting all partitions by using partitionmagic. then i used testdisk to find the lost partitons (there were 3 partitions) to find hundreds and thousands of empty folders with exact folder names but nothing inside. unfortunately, testdisk failed for the first time to give me back my files.
    i searched for other free data recovery softwares and tried all in vein. then searched for the best paid recovery software and ran the trial versions. icare gave the best result. managed a license and bingo. i got it all backed up in my new 1TB WD external 3.5" drive (thanks to amazon) as soon as possible.

    i do not trust 2.5" drives for backing up anymore. old is gold. writing it all in DVDs now. 350 GB will take months to write on DVD.
    anyway, i am saved.

    then i did a low level format of the damaged HDD by HDDGURU (its free) and figured out where the bad sectors were by splitting the drive into 50GB segments and checking each individually with a free HDDscan utility. found the bad region, created a partition with that and deleted that with partitionmagic. the rest of the disk one drive now. but still i have found troublesome behaviour of the drive. so, i am not storing data in that anymore.

    pm me if you need any help
  10. joeretired

    joeretired TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the info. I already gave him back the drive to see if he wants to spend the money on professional recovery, but I'll ask him if he wants me to take another shot. As long as the software doesn't cost too much I probably would buy it to save for future use. I just know sometime somewhere the roof will cave in on one of my friends, maybe even me.
  11. joeretired

    joeretired TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Uzbuk, I was about to download "icare". I connected the drive and checked it just to see if the folders were there, and lo and behold the folders did have contents, so I started moving the pictures over. After about 15 minutes or so the drive went wacko again. I've been doing this for the last couple of days. I think when the drive gets hot it starts to act up, so what I've been doing is copy as many files as I can, and then when it starts acting up I shut it off, and wait a few days and do it again. It will probably take awhile but I'll get there.

    This is without a doubt one of the weirdest things I've seen. If I don't wait long enough the drive shows up with all the folders, but they indicate they're blank. I think gremlins are lurking somewhere just to drive me crazy.
  12. uzbuk

    uzbuk TS Rookie

    i understand your frustration. it was such a bad experience that I do not even remember how i got it done. as long as temperature is the issue - try to drain the heat away from the drive as much as possible. mine was a small HDD. So, it was easy. If u r dealing with a big one you really need to improvise. before trying ice packs or something like that, take necessary precautions to prevent moisture buildup. what else! good luck.

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