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Old 24-02-2011, 12:03   #1
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Hard Drive recovery

This is a li'l off topic as far as boats but I have an external HD that just quit working, as far as communicating with the computer. It's still spinning but I can not up/download any info. I just get an error message on the screen.

I've called around to places that can retrieve info from crashed HD's but they want $300 to $1000 to do the work. I have a lot of boat stuff/pictures and some personal items but $300+ seems awful high. I used it as a backup on two different computers. Backup? What a joke!

Couldn't I just buy another external HD of the same brand and swap out the discs. Or is their some reasonable priced services out there that could retrieve data?
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Old 24-02-2011, 12:26   #2
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

As it's a 'backup' drive, is the data not on your other machines then? The whole point of having a backup is so that your data is in more than one location so if one fails, you still have it.

As for reccovery, £300-1000 sounds like a rip off to me. I had my HD fail in the UK and took it to a local PC shop. He was able to get all my files off it and put onto dvd's for under £100. I'd reccommend shopping around for a smaller independant computer shop.

Don't even think you taking it apart, etc. one touch or scratch on the HD surface and all your stuff is gone forever.
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Old 24-02-2011, 12:27   #3
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Quote:
Couldn't I just buy another external HD of the same brand and swap out the discs.
It wouldn't get any data back. It would have to be an identical drive with the exact same firmware to have a chance. Depending on what died it many have trashed the data with it's last gasp before death. Besides you need a clean room to do the work. A spec of dust would trash the read write head. The higher prices would actually recover what could be recovered. No one would actually repair the drive and expect it to work.

In the olden days we used to swap out platters, but we never recovered any data. These were large 7MB disks. The drives weighed about 98 pounds. The removable disk packs used the same platter as the fixed disk. You could just unbolt one and put in a new one. An old HD floppy disk would be rocket science compared to these.

As a last effort tap the sides of the drive lightly with a hammer and fire it up. Sometimes it works if the drive head got bound up. It may not as power down usually locks the heads in place if a proper shutdown is done. It could have been anything that died inside. OK, so the motor still works it's not enough. If it does come back have another drive to move the data handy. The drive is either totally dead or near dead. If you got it up do NOT shut it off.

If it were easy I would do it for you and only charge you $200. You can buy 1 TB drives for about $70 and a 300GB would be more like $40.
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Old 24-02-2011, 12:30   #4
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

On a side note to you and others reading this, there are LOADS of ways to keep your valuable pictures and files online these days. Things like Photobucket, MSN's skydrive, etc.

Especialy for folks like us on the water, this has to be the best way of backing up valuable data. No point in having a backup drive if your boat sinks with it and the PC on it! At least with online storage, it's safe forever, anywhere in the world.
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Old 24-02-2011, 13:08   #5
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Sorry to hear about your problems Del. I had a harddrive crash on my laptop. I ended up bringing it to a couple of shops and they wanted from $500 to a $2000. It was all very important data. I finally talked to a friend and we opened up the laptop and removed the harddrive and plugged it into a desktop machine. We had to get a special adapter $15 and then we opened the harddrive on the desktop. It didn't work at first but I did some research and found something called jumpers. I had to get a little jumper cover and I was able to retrieve all my Data. I don't know what the external harddrives are like on the inside but what I am suggesting might work for you too.
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Old 24-02-2011, 13:16   #6
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

The drive is a 80 GB FireLite w/a Toshiba drive inside (china made). I was thinking if I could buy another same size drive and swap the floppies inside, That I could possibly retrieve the data. I could set up a clean room just for the job but I've never had one of these apart.

I've done intricate repairs like digital camers but have never had a HD apart yet. I have an old Mac HD I should experiment with.
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Old 24-02-2011, 13:24   #7
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Hi delmarrey,
it's not necessarily the harddrive that crashed. It could be just the controller that makes the harddrive inside the external disk case talk to your computer via usb. As Charlie suggested you should just open the case, take the harddrive out and connet it to your desktop with a cable which is parallel to the internal harddrive or the DVD-drive. It probably needs to set a jupmper to make the new harddrive a "slave" of the internnal harddrive. No need for a clean room for this operation.
Of course as the others mentioned before: the whole point of having a backup is to store valuable data in more than one place.
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Old 24-02-2011, 13:29   #8
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

I know this sounds a bit crazy but some IT folks I know say it works. Stick it in a freezer for a couple hours, take it out and fire it up and pull all the data. Be ready to move fast. It's been told to me that this slows the drive down or something, I'm not a computer expert but if you need advice on automotive quality I could definitely help you out. Take this advice for what it's worth and for what you spent on it. Good luck.
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Old 24-02-2011, 13:37   #9
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Have you tried powering it with the power cord as well as the usb? Have you tried opening the case yet? It may be ane internal connector that's causing the problem. If checking connections doesn't work you may be able connect the drive directly to your computers harddrive bus to get the data. Removing the platter seems last ditch to me.
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Old 24-02-2011, 13:54   #10
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Data recovery from a crashed hard disk is difficult to do right. There are some firms which specialize in this field, and they do in fact charge a lot for their services.

We have used them in the past, and they're well worth the price you pay. If you can get one of these firms to recover your data for $300 (not 300 pounds UK), you'd be laughing!

FYI, the last time we had this done was in 2005. We paid $2,455.83 to Data Recovery Systems in Reston, VA. Very expensive, yes, but the data on that HD were worth it. And, we were very stupid in not having another form of backup (an error we immediately corrected).

BTW, the price included a new 80GB USB HD.

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Old 24-02-2011, 14:28   #11
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

I posted this once but the CF site went down for a few minutes and I lost it so here I go again. It seems one has to back up their posts too!

Here is a picture of the HD out of it's hard case.
The odd thing is when it first showed signs of trouble I attempted to do a disk repair program (Mac OS X 10). It failed, so I tried doing a search of files and was able to recover a few but if the file had the same name as one on the computer HD it would revert to it instead. I did a proper shut down of the HD and restarted but could not get anything after that.

What is this jumper you have mentioned?

I have checked the pins and even tried the other hub w/o success. I have not hooked up to an external power but I can hear the drive spinning and the power light works but not the processing light.

And I have created new files and have up loaded what I have onto CD's.

I may try the freezer bit later on.



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Old 24-02-2011, 15:05   #12
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

The jumpers will be the copper pins at the lower left of the picture. This is actually a Serial ATA drive so with a sata bus you might be able to add it is a second drive. Hard to tell in this pic.
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Old 24-02-2011, 15:32   #13
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Toshiba MK8032GAX 80GB ATA Notebook drive

If you google this you can get the fact sheet. Yes, you could connect it up to a desktop computer and it might be worth a try since the power supply could be faulty. It's a cheap solution. You can find all sorts of new external cases as well. A new case might be a good idea in any case.

As far as doing a platter transfer it won't work because there is emprom data inside the drive itself related to the platter. It also could be a different firmware release as well. Were it anything different in any possible way it would not work. The tolerances required for the assembly is not anything you could deal with.

Best price I could dig up was 61$ for a drive of the same number as above (based on your photo). The drive is out of stock in a lot of places so maybe the firmware would be the same but I personally think the adventure is money down a rat hole.

To install it to a desktop, the whole green board attached to the drive comes off and it becomes a regular ATA (NOT an SATA) drive. They ain't special for enclosures. You may need a special cable but it's the same as would be in a Notebook and they do make enclosures for 2.5 inch drives. A new enclosure is what you'll need. You could get another 2.5 inch drive as they are fast and lighter than the 3.5 inch drives. I would never reuse an enclosure where a drive crashed in it. 90% of the time it is the poor power supply. Power supplies are the most important thing.

I would definitely try that as it would do no harm. The cases in external drives are not always the best and the power supplies are less reliable than the drives. If you open the drive there is no company in the world that will touch it. You'll break the security seals and they will know you opened it. A few taps on the side and install it to a desktop machine (or new enclosure) is my best estimate for a very lucky break. As I said above if you mount it and see it get ALL the data off ASAP and don't power it down. Once you get all data off dispose of the drive and don't look back. You won't ever "fix" it.

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Old 24-02-2011, 15:33   #14
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

Yeah it does have 4 little pins but how would a jumper work. Is there an attachment? Does this bypass the other components of the HD.

Sorry, the picture isn't any closer/focused.


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Old 24-02-2011, 15:37   #15
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Re: Hard Drive recovery

HD failure can either be from two general faults - a physical fault in the external HD system itself, for instance a platter or arm failure - or, a communications fault in the apparatus that contains the HD and talks to you computer. Also you computer can have a fault that prevents it from talking/receiving information from the external HD system.
- - First thing is to determine whether it is a communications fault either in your computer or in the apparatus that encases the actual HD and connects to your computer. The way to do that is to plug the external drive system into a different computer and see if you can access it there. If that is not successful then - like others have mentioned - you remove the physical HD from the external drive apparatus and try it in another external drive apparatus case or directly cabled to another computer.
- - If it still doesn't work then you most probably have a physical HD failure. These failures can be of two types also. One is a physical failure of the moving parts inside the HD in which case you are S.O.L. on recovering the data. The other fault is a bad or corrupted track on the operating/file system of the HD. This can be gotten around by special software that will physically tell the HD to position itself at a track other than the defective one and then read off the data. Sometimes the data is read at "machine level" and you need special software to copy it onto a good disc or HD before you can access it normally. Since data is normally stored in non-continuous "chunks" spread all over the physical HD disks this could make recovery of some data files impossible or simply too time consuming to put back together. This is one reason why professional recovery is so expensive - it is very time consuming on the part of the technician to reassemble the files.
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