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New hard drive failing - now how to recover my data?!?

By howapropos ·
On an older server machine, I have a NEW 80gb hard drive which now no longer is being recognized by the controller, except sporadically.

Without going into the details of all the steps taken to troublesshoot the situation, suffifce it to say that the drive only intermittently sends data to the controller. Most of the time during boot, the drive isn't seen. Only occasionally is it recognized. When it's recognized, I can boot to a DOS disk and every so often see the files on the drive (although it can pause for 2-3 minutes at a time).

The drive was only in the system 2-3 days and working fine when right in the middle of using the system I suddenly could not access that particular hard drive.

The question now is one of recovery. The hard drive seems to be OK on the inside, mechanically so my data is probably fine. It could be as simple as losing contact to one of the pins. Or maybe in the electronics somewhere.

Has anyone ever heard of a problem like this? Any ideas how to get my data off under these circymstances?

Open to any and ALL ideas!!!!

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by bigkenny In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

you could try to clone the drive to another hard drive using max blast 3 down load it from maxtor
you migth have to press F three times to make work I've used this tool untold times and got results every time hope this helps

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by pchlp In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

You can hook the drive as a slave in another computer and copy the data over.
Sometimes freezing the drive. Yes, put in the freeze for a few hours. This contract the bearing to allow it to rotate.
Good luck

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by tnemeth In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

That's quite the predicament, I like the idea of trying to clone the drive. Try the drive in another machine, I wonder if it's the drive itself or maybe the BIOS of that machine has errors. Also check the specs on your interface standards (ie ATA-133) and see what the max cable length is, then compare to your cable. The only guaranteed option is to employ the services of a data recovery company, they should be able to grab that data for you.

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by tnemeth In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

That's quite the predicament, I like the idea of trying to clone the drive. Try the drive in another machine, I wonder if it's the drive itself or maybe the BIOS of that machine has errors. Also check the specs on your interface standards (ie ATA-133) and see what the max cable length is, then compare to your cable. The only guaranteed option is to employ the services of a data recovery company, they should be able to grab that data for you.

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by howapropos In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

Thanks for your answers.

As a follow-up, let me state that using the drive as a slave and cloning the drive seem unwieldy considering that the majority of the time the drive is effectively dead. If I could get the drive booted as a slace, copying 30gb of data when it only gives me a 1-2 second burst every 2-3 minutes would be quite a problem. Maxtor's utilities suffer from the same problems (not to mention not currently having a target drive for all that data).

The one thing I haven't tried is putting the drive in the freezer. However I tend to feel the problem is much more electronic in nature than it is mechanical. Whenever I've had a drive fail mechanically there were data errors and unnatural sounds glarore from the drive. In this case, it's merely as if the drive loses contact with the controller despite the swapping out of cables and the like.

As for data recovery companies; are there any which wouldn't charge $500 and more to accomplish this? Yes, my data is important but paying that kind of money is the LAST resort for me. If it comes to that, however, I would try to get WD to foot the bill, given that their drive worked fine for a couple days then failed before I had a change to back anything up. I don't know what my chances would be... :-/

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by csmith In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

Your suspicions are correct that this is an electrical problem.
I have seen many causes.
The most common is, the cable was bad/marginal.(Usually corrosion or oxidation of the contact between the wire and the insulation displacing contacts. (Inside the connector/plug.))

Check the 5 Volt wire (Red) on the MOLEX connector.
I have seen them back out, and give an intermittent connection. (That causes the logic board to function intermittently.)( The drive motor is 12 Volts, not affected by a 5 Volt problem.)

I have also seen connection problems between the logic board and the read/write. (Not common, 0.5%)

Also check for shipping damage, (Cracked logic board, etc. 1.0% Likey)

Anyway, start with the cable. It is the most likely suspect.

Regards, Chris

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by tech_wiz03 In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

Do yourself a favor and rule out current system errors by moving drive to another machine first. If the drive works once more in the second machine you won't be waisting hours peeking and poking around the drive.

regards
rick

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by OTL In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

What about the old drive ? If not reformated / reused, the majority of your data should be there.

To get all the newer files, since you have access to DOS and occassionally the drive,
run a DIR /s c:\ (or whatever drive it is) >> temp.txt (or any text file you want)
syntax DIR /s c:\ >> temp.txt
This will create a text file of all the files on the disk. From there you can create a DOS batch file to run when you have access to the drive.

Trying it in another machine is a good idea, if you have access to one that supports the HD. I have one, with the same problem, awaiting testing right now.

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by howapropos In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

Chris -

At the risk of sounding ignorant, I presume when you say "cable" you mean the IDE cable? Or do you mean power cable? Anyway... I've naturally tried several different IDE and power cables. These cables work FINE on another drive I purchased of the exact same model. But not on this one.

MORE CRUCIAL INFO: I now have tried swapping out the small circuit board on the drive with the one of the other model. Even with the boards swapped, the drives behaved the same (meaning the circuit board from the bad drive worked fine on the good drive and the bad drive, even with the good drive's circuit board, still failed in the same manner). So while it seems electical, it's NOT in the small circuit board.

Refigerating the drive seems to increase my likelihood of 'seeing' the drive for a couple minutes. ONCE, and only once, I actually booted into NT with the bad drive as a slave and manged to see the drives and even move 2-3 files before it froze up on me. So unless I managed to get a cold air jet to blast the drive while I use it, I don't know if cold will help much.

As for the comment to change systems... tried that. Tried 3 different controllers, BIOS updated, as well as 2 different systems. No change. TRUST me - the problem is in the drive...

As for using DOS; keep in mind there's only one small boot partition which is FAT. The data is all on 2 NTFS partitions. There's not enough access time to download multi-meg files anyway. I really need to find a way to get the drive to work, even if slowly, for a consistent time. One hour would be enough. Heck - I'd be somewhat happy if I could have 10 minutes to get the most important of my files!!!

Need some ideas on WHAT could be wrong with the innards of the drive.

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by donmars In reply to New hard drive failing - ...

Remove the drive, install in a good machine as slave. You do thi by selecting slave with the jumpers in back of the drive. While inside the machine also make the drive that is already there Master using the same tecnique. Why did the new drive fail so early is what interests me. Check that your power supply is adequate to drive the hard drive and all other components. The power supply on thi older machine may be failing or not have enough wattage to handle the new drive and all its other stuff. I strongly suspect a power supply problem frm you description such as "every so often see the files on the drive (although it can pause for 2-3 minutes at a time)."

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