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Thread: Hard Drive Recovery

  1. #1
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    Default Hard Drive Recovery

    My primary hard drive (as in the one with Windows on it) gave up the ghost on Friday. On Thursday night I reset the IP stack, and everything seemed OK but Friday morning it was NTLDR is missing.

    BIOS doesn't see it, my USB to SATA device isn't detected by my laptop when I connect the SATA drive to it. I've never had a drive just die out of the blue like that. They used to go through a series of bad sectors before dying. This time though it was very abrupt, and while I can hear and feel the thing spin, it is completely unrecognized. It's a 1.5 year old Samsung 500gig hard drive so I'm surprised it failed so quickly. I doubt it was even a third full at the time it died...

    I've already tried freezing it to no effect. Someone recommended the spin into a wall trick, and whack it in the lower left corner trick but I'll search around a bit before resorting to such tactics.

    The data on that drive is something I would like to have but it's not something I want to pay a professional data recovery service for.

    Thought about buying a SSD to replace it but instead spent $55 on another 500gig SATA.
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

  2. #2
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    - Are you able to boot your machine using a system disk? (i.e. diskette or CD?). If you can, can you display the contents?

    - Are you able to see the BIOS settings? It happened to me before that my hard disk was not recognized when booting. I later found the BIOS settings for hard disk were incorrect. After setting them correctly, it booted without problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eagle View Post
    - Are you able to boot your machine using a system disk? (i.e. diskette or CD?). If you can, can you display the contents?

    - Are you able to see the BIOS settings? It happened to me before that my hard disk was not recognized when booting. I later found the BIOS settings for hard disk were incorrect. After setting them correctly, it booted without problems.
    Initially I thought it was just MBR corruption but when I went to the XP recovery console, I found that it just didn't see the drive at all. So then I went and check BIOS, and found that it just didn't detect the drive at all. I have a second SATA drive, and that was detected fine so it's probably not a SATA driver issue. I have since re-imaged onto my new hard drive so it's pretty obvious it's an issue with the old drive itself.

    I tried the USB to SATA with the bad drive again. It seems to be spinning normally since I get the gyroscopic effect when I pick the drive up, and turn it about. Still not being detected though... I ended up giving it a whack when I accidentally knocked it off my PC, and it hit the floor... no change as far as I can tell.

    The data isn't super important since it's mostly games (about 30 hours of Borderlands, 20 hours of Just Cause and a super heavily modded Oblivion) but I just found out that I also had my only copy of Virtual PC installer on the drive... I still have the Virtual PC image on the remaining drive but now I can't access it. My Tech Net subscription ran out so I can't just DL it again :<

    Maybe I should subscribe again to get Windows 7... still $300-$500 is a bit steep... and it'll probably mean no jumping stilts for me in the near future...
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

  4. #4
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    Well, you are very knowledgeable with PCs and already tried different solutions with no luck.

    Your problem could be hardware related - if it is with the controller chip, tough luck. Ever considered taking it to a repair shop to check?

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    NTLDR is NT loader, exists in all Windows, I think since Windows NT. Though it is XP, it uses the same framework and the same boot loader --> NTLDR, at least by name, not sure about the file contents itself. If this is missing, it could be the HDD crashed, or simply drive C corrupted due to incomplete installation of a software, virus attack that remove the NTLDR, or simply power outage during loading of NTLDR, which causes the file to be corrupted.

    A quick way is to copy the NTLDR from any machine with installed Windows or from the installation CD, and paste to your orignal HDD drive C. If this does not work, a number of other files (boot.ini, NTDECT.COM) maybe missing together with NTLDR, which indicates that the Windows installation as a whole may have been corrupted. This will be much harder to fix and most of the time, a new installation is much more reliable.

    If there's no mechanical noise, the HDD should work just fine. An HDD with noise and bad sector normally had faulty slider or misalign disc, and would be dead by the time you backup everything from the drive.

    I don't know if there's any chip in HDD to enable booting from motherboard BIOS. However, I've seen HDD which is not visible and not bootable when Windows boots up, and what I did is make the HDD as external USB HDD drive and it is working fine.

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    When my USB to SATA failed to detect it I thought that pretty much indicated it was dead dead. I'll give it one more try with that, and see if I can see it under disk management. Doubt that it will appear there since I didn't even see an "usb device detected" message but I've had a HD set to dynamic disk in the past, and the drive was not visible when connected to an USB.

    Guess I can also connect it as the second drive on the SATA cable but if it didn't work on the first slot (where my replacement drive did) it probably won't work on the second...

    btw: Evidently Virtual PC is free these days. My Virtual PC was up in minutes but then a few days later it went to an endless reboot loop. I did have a backup copy of my virtual disk so I recovered that pretty quick... still it was rather annoying. Maybe I need a clean Virtual PC image...
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

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    At the risk of sounding like I'm insulting your intelligence...have you considered the possibility that it might be a data cable malfunction, as opposed to a hard drive malfunction? That might explain why you can hear and feel it spinning without problems, and yet it is totally unrecognized.
    Read the latest chapters of Coiling Dragon at Wuxia World!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    At the risk of sounding like I'm insulting your intelligence...have you considered the possibility that it might be a data cable malfunction, as opposed to a hard drive malfunction? That might explain why you can hear and feel it spinning without problems, and yet it is totally unrecognized.
    First thing I checked

    The USB to SATA device (power and data cables) that I have works fine on my other SATA drive but not on the one faulty one. I even checked the connectors on the drive for damage. Suppose there could be a break between external connectors and the interior (the cable was at an odd angle, and placed tension on the connectors) but I don't exactly have a clean room available for those kind of operations.

    btw: The dynamic disk thing was a failure. Disk management didn't detect the drive.
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkcser View Post
    First thing I checked

    The USB to SATA device (power and data cables) that I have works fine on my other SATA drive but not on the one faulty one. I even checked the connectors on the drive for damage. Suppose there could be a break between external connectors and the interior (the cable was at an odd angle, and placed tension on the connectors) but I don't exactly have a clean room available for those kind of operations.

    btw: The dynamic disk thing was a failure. Disk management didn't detect the drive.
    It's done....get yourself a USB drive enclosure so you can at least access the data from it.

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