Monday, October 19, 2009

Find And Restore Data From An Old Hard Drive

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How to Resurrect a Crashed Hard Drive

The hard drive is possibly the most failure prone part of your computer. Whether it's been dropped, over heated, or simply died of old age. If you've traced your problem to the hard drive, the solution depends on the symptoms it's exhibiting.

If the drive spins up but behaves erratically, you probably have data corruption caused by a failing drive. Try the following steps to recover your data and copy it to a good drive before the bad one dies.

Check cabling.

Before anything else, if you're using an IDE drive, check that the data cable is connected properly, and if it is, switch to a new cable. IDE cable are notoriously cheap and are prone to having their insulation stripped by the metal edges inside the PCs case shorting out the cable.

Try a boot Disc

Try starting your machine with a boot disc such as Ultimate Boot CD for Windows to learn if the drive is readable. If it is, back up all of the data to another drive, and reformat the original discs to see if it's salvageable.

Check for bad sectors

You may have bad sectors. Try using HDD Re-generator to locate any. Download the demo and burn it to a boot able CD. If the free demo finds bad sectors, it may be worth paying for the full version, if it can recover the bad sectors and make the drive usable once more.

Try Utilities from disk's manufacturer features manufacturer specific utilities for virtually any hard drive vendor. Find outwhat company made the drive that's failing, then download the appropriate diagnostic application. All of the tools are free and can help diagnose problems on the drive and repair them.

Try Data Recovery Software

If you still can;t get the drive to boot, turn to data recovery software to attempt salvage lost files. You have dozens of alternatives in this market, and prices may generally run from $40 to $200. Stellar Phoenix may be an ideal choice.

Some Last Ditch Efforts

If the Hard Drive won't spin up at all, you can still try a few last at jabs that have only a slim chance of working. But if your drive won't even spin, it probably wont hurt to try these, just don't do anything to further damage the disc, as the drive recovery surface may still be able to help. For example don't bang on the drive, and don't remove the cover and expose the heads.

Try the Freezer Trick

The freezer trick is an old standby if you have a drive that's clicking but not spinning. Put the drive in a plastic freezer bag to keep the water out, and wrap it in a towel for extra protection, and then freeze it for a few hours. Let it thaw back to room temperature after you remove and get rid of any condensation you can see. There's no agreed upon length of time to freeze it so start with an hour and work your way up to 24 hours and see if you can make that drive spin up one last time.

Try to Loosen Stuck Drives

To loosen stuck discs, hold the drive in your hand and rotate your arm outward quickly, parallel to the orientation to the plats, a bit like throwing a Frisbee. Repeat this action several times but make sure to not to bang the disc on anything. This action is designed to solve a problem called stiction or static friction, which can prevent drive platters from spinning.

Apply a High-Wattage Power Burst

Finally you can try attaching the drive to a high wattage power supply. Even though it wont draw up extra power, a burst of juice from the highest wattage power supply you can find, could jar it into spinning up one last time.

Copy All Your Files

Remember if you do get a dead drive spinning again, don't let it stop until you've copied off all your critical data. Chances are, you wont have it working again.

If all else fails and you absolutely need data off the hard drive, your last best hope is to send it to a data recovery service like Drivesavers. It isn't cheap and expect to pay up to $3000, but they can perform magic when consumer grade tools fail.

Make Regular BackupsTo alleviate this problem in the future, make sure your back ups are up to date, and for added security, mirror a second hard drive to ensure you have a real-time back up for the minimal risks of data loss and downtime. PC World Aug. 09

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