Recovering a failed hard drive

Often people ask me...

My computer just died, and all of my data for the last 10 years is on it. How do I get my data back?

I tell them BACKUPS.

And they reply... OH. 🙁 I don't have a backup, can you do some magic and get it back.

At that point I point them to a data recovery service and tell them to open their wallet... open it BIG. Because it isn't a cheap task to recover a hard drive.

Well all of that is going to change. See... I had a brand new drive that was my backup drive. Well after 3 months, it died. Yes folks, it happened to me, and since it was my USB- One Touch backup drive with 250GB. I didn't have a backup of the backup. I figured all was lost until I called Maxtor to troubleshoot my problem. After spending some time on the phone, they diagnosed that the problem was my NTFS partition table was corrupt, but the drive was still visable to Windows XP. The suggested I take it to a recovery place, or buy some Data Recovery software.

I got myself a copy of OnTrack Easy Recovery and let it goto town on my drive. After 9 hours, it came back with a full listing of everything that was on my drive. I had since bought a new 200GB drive, and selected the files and let it run for 14 hours restoring my data. All is up and running on the new drive, and as I write this, I am re-formating the 250GB drive so it can be used again.

Comments... Restoring/analyzing the drive over Firewire was much faster than USB 2.0, even though USB 2.0 usually gives me better performance in day to day use. I also found another product called SPINRITE, by GRC Labs that works awsome from DOS on normal IDE drives, but does not help me with Firewire and USB drives. So if you need to restore data from a failed HDD that is IDE or SCSI, SpinRite might be your best bet. And it fits on a FLOPPY! Cool stuff!


Well what do you know, things are not all well at the OK Corral. Apparently when I went to format the drive, it would not format successfully, and in looking at the System Event Log, I found several Red Stop messages warning me about the drive having bad blocks. EventID 7 was apparently the right thing to say to the guy because we stopped troubleshooting the problem and moved onto processing the RMA. So if you have problems with your drive look for this error. I might find a way to have something notify me of this even error code. 🙁

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Disk
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7
Date: 9/27/2004
Time: 10:56:18 PM
User: N/A
Computer: C6
The device, DeviceHarddisk2D, has a bad block.

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