My hard drive crashed - any ideas?

35 replies
Yesterday the ultimate disaster occurred - my hard drive crashed. I therefore lost a whole lot of stuff, including several WSOs I'd bought, Windows, Firefox, MS Office etc. (At least they were all legal copies and I had the installation disks)

Thankfully, a lot of the sellers have re-sent me download links and I thank them for that.

Anyway, I have been quoted over $1000 to recover the data, but wondered if among the vast storehouse of knowledge contained in this forum there are any other suggestions.

My wife's suggestion was to go to my backups (like, what are they?)

If this post doesn't produce any replies, at least let it serve the purpose of reminding every forum reader to do a backup NOW!

My drive was only a year old, so it could happen to you.
#crashed #drive #hard #ideas
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    When my hard drive crashed I learned about a geek who works on computers part time. He is a gem - cheap and good and a great guy who is now my "go to" person.

    Ask around to see if there is someone working from his home - you may be able to recover some of the material for far less than $1000.

    kay
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  • Profile picture of the author matts5150
    When you say "crashed" what symptoms are you having? will the bios recognize the drive, loud clicking, will the hard drive spin up at all? Is this a laptop or desktop? Alot of times it's only the logic board on the bottom of the drive if it doesn't spin up at all, if you can find an exact replacement on ebay or somewhere just swap out he logic and you're back in business.
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    • Profile picture of the author peter_act
      Originally Posted by matts5150 View Post

      When you say "crashed" what symptoms are you having? will the bios recognize the drive, loud clicking, will the hard drive spin up at all? Is this a laptop or desktop? Alot of times it's only the logic board on the bottom of the drive if it doesn't spin up at all, if you can find an exact replacement on ebay or somewhere just swap out he logic and you're back in business.
      The BIOS wouldn't recognise the drive at all. As soon as I put in a new drive it reconised it right away.

      I don't know what a logic board is, but I'll sure as hell find out!

      It's a desktop

      The drive is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11
      500 gigabytes
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      • Profile picture of the author richporr
        You might consider contacting a computer science instructor at a neighboring university, college, or community college. If you get the right instructor they just might be curious enough to help you for free.

        They might also direct you to a starving student who will do it for little or nothing.

        On the other hand, they might suggest where you can stick it.

        -Rich
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      • Profile picture of the author matts5150
        Originally Posted by peter_act View Post

        The BIOS wouldn't recognise the drive at all. As soon as I put in a new drive it reconised it right away.

        I don't know what a logic board is, but I'll sure as hell find out!

        It's a desktop

        The drive is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11
        500 gigabytes

        It's probably the logic board, it's the electronic board on the bottom of the hard drive, you'll need a spcial bit to remove it, I've seen a few hundred of the barracuda's over the past years where the logic board died, not sure why, barracuda's used be rock solid. It's a simple fix though, just go to ebay and search for a logic board or hard drive for the exact model listed on your hard drive as it needs the same firmware version, swap it out and voila! Now this is not guaranteed without physically seeing it however for about $75 bucks you can probably get your data back. Now keep in mind this may not work in all cases but I've been doing data recovery since the 90's and this will typically do the trick about 95% of the time as long as it's not internal. Let me know how it works out.
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        • Profile picture of the author helper
          i dont know if it's really possible to get your files back but i have an offer for everyone here that will be available on WSO soon. Prevention as you all know is better than cure. I have a software here that will help protect your disks from crash, it also back up all your files automatically and send details to you when you are online. It will be available on WSO soon but then you can send an email to me to get it before then. My email is info@myonlinebusinessteacher.com
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          • Profile picture of the author peter_act
            Thanks for all the replies.

            I'll try the logic board technique.

            Luckily it wasn't as big a disaster as I thought, as every Warrior from whom I'd bought a WSO sent me a new download link, no questions asked, I'm so grateful for that. So I've replaced all my WSOs, which was my major loss. I still had the setip disks for the other programs, and I had actually backed up more data files than I thought.

            I had also written an ebook, but luckily I'd uploaded it to the web, so I can get that back with a PDF to text converter, then back to Word.

            So, all in all, not a complete disaster, but I say again, do your backup now, and put it on your email calendar to do it again in a month's time.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danielsguide
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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by Danielsguide View Post

      You can actually do something that is called System Restore - it restores your hardrive and everything back to the day you want it to be restored too!~

      It's great...


      - Dan
      Except if your hard drive physically took a dump...then you either need to take it to a tech or just replace it. System restore is only good for Windows crashing. It won't help you with a dead hard drive. It rarely works for Windows restore.
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  • Profile picture of the author jjbalagosa
    It may sound crazy but try this. Stick your hard drive in a ziplock back and put it in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Then immidiately plug it back into your pc and boot it up. If you're lucky, you'll get about 20 minutes of usage to pull your data out. I'm an IT Tech by day and learned this from my collegues, I was amazed that it works.

    If it sounds too wierd to be true you can google "hard drive freezer recovery" or something along those lines, and you'll see it's been done by a lot of people. Hope this helps.
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    • Profile picture of the author LocoDice
      Originally Posted by jjbalagosa View Post

      It may sound crazy but try this. Stick your hard drive in a ziplock back and put it in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Then immidiately plug it back into your pc and boot it up. If you're lucky, you'll get about 20 minutes of usage to pull your data out. I'm an IT Tech by day and learned this from my collegues, I was amazed that it works.

      If it sounds too wierd to be true you can google "hard drive freezer recovery" or something along those lines, and you'll see it's been done by a lot of people. Hope this helps.
      I've heard this too... google it and you will definitely find some successful outcomes from doing this.
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  • Profile picture of the author George Wright
    When that happened to me the first time I took it to a local repair shop and dropped it off. He left the shop saying to the assistant. "See if you can Restore that guy's information."

    Somehow the assistant thought it would be the thing to do to install a new OS. He did and I lost everything. Or so I thought.

    My daughter Tammy took it to a local university and told the students, you will never be able to find the files on here.

    They just had to prove that "they could do anything."

    Under the watchful eye of the instructor they did their hocus pocus and found the files we wanted.

    My point, you might be able to turn over your PC to a local college/university IT dept and get some good results for free especially if the instructor lets a student or even the class do it for credit. Students will do things for a grade that they wouldn't do for money. We have given a couple of other "assignments" out this way with great results.

    Tammy gave a project of an entire 8 page news letter and the instructor made it an assignment. It turned out great.

    Now if only I could figure out how to get articles written this way.

    George Wright
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  • Profile picture of the author PCRoger
    If you want a coupon code for an online backup solution, PM me. There is one for this weekend.

    Computers are what I do.

    Hard drives are like light bulbs; matters not how old it is. It can last 1 hour or 20 years.

    Regards,
    PCRoger.
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  • Profile picture of the author HypnoticTonic
    Hey get yourself a copy of spinrite, it will most likely get your stuff back, you can find plenty of info about it.
    Then sign up for a 5 dollar subscription to mozy.
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    • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
      Originally Posted by HypnoticTonic View Post

      Hey get yourself a copy of spinrite, it will most likely get your stuff back, you can find plenty of info about it.
      Then sign up for a 5 dollar subscription to mozy.
      I'll second the spinrite. It's saved my ass a few times.

      Also, I've had hard disks on Windows machines that failed, yet were accessible with a Linux operating system.

      Those are a couple of ways you might be able to save $1000 for data recovery.

      I believe there's a good chance your data can be recovered and that your hard drive isn't just a paper weight. I wish you luck
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      • Profile picture of the author JDSalinger
        Peter_act,

        You are getting good advice. The one additional thing I would suggest is getting a service like Carbonite, Mozy or another similar service that will automatically backup everything for you. The cost for this type of service is pretty minimal. I use Carbonite for under $60 a year. Also, the info is encrypted so safety of the information is not a serious concern. This is a pretty good deal when you are looking at paying $500 to $1000 to get some data recovered. This is something I had to learn the hard way.
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  • Profile picture of the author mine1718
    re-boot the whole hard drive again by re-installing your operating system again on your computer
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    • Profile picture of the author Sink or Swim
      If you have a new drive in the computer with a new OS installed, put the old drive on a different (IDE or SATA) cable. You may have to switch a "jumper" (looks like a black tic-tac). Put the jumper on "slave" or "autoselect", it is written on the drive.

      When you boot up, if the drive still works, it will show up as a different drive letter. You won't be able to run your programs, but you can copy the data off of it.

      Don't take it to Bestbuy or anything like that, most of those guys (not all) make copies of any files they find interesting from your HD.

      If you try the freezer trick and it doesn't work, you can also try the dollarbill trick. Drop the HD on its side (thin part) on the floor from the height of a dollar bill. That used to work for me along with the freezer trick for drives that start clicking.
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      • Profile picture of the author mikeyman120
        Originally Posted by Sink or Swim View Post

        If you have a new drive in the computer with a new OS installed, put the old drive on a different (IDE or SATA) cable. You may have to switch a "jumper" (looks like a black tic-tac). Put the jumper on "slave" or "autoselect", it is written on the drive.

        When you boot up, if the drive still works, it will show up as a different drive letter. You won't be able to run your programs, but you can copy the data off of it.
        This is your answer if it is just software related. If it is physically damaged then I think you may need the data recovery people.

        Mike
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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by mine1718 View Post

      re-boot the whole hard drive again by re-installing your operating system again on your computer
      That won't work if your hard drive is physically toast. No matter how many times you reboot it the bios won't recognize it.
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  • Profile picture of the author AmyBrown
    Have you tried using a USB to SATA/IDE cable (as appropriate) to connect the drive to your working computer? They're less than $20 on Amazon.
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  • Profile picture of the author dremora
    People have already given great advice on how to get the HD fixed for free so I won't repeat it (I had a HD crash years ago, and I managed to recover text files using some binary reader utility,,, forgot its name but you can boot it off some Linux CD and read the hard drive geometry, and recover files except for any multimedia stuff) that has taught me a valuable lesson: Take backups!

    Please do not allow it to happen again and start taking backups!!!

    Invest in a couple of external usb hard drives - they are cheap and you can get a terabyte for a good price. Keep all of your important files in ONE directory (make subdirs under it, like music, videos, photos, WSO's, internet marketing tutorials) do not spread your files all over the place. If it's all organized under one directory, it's easy to back up. Keep backups in removable USB hard drives and DVD's (that is what I do) since I don't trust one backup method alone. I was an enterprise backup administrator at Fortune 500 corp for years.... I have seen the super expensive DLT /LTO media fail all the time, and I have seen $100.000 dollar disk storage appliances go bad. I have seen it all so I don't trust any hardware. Online backup is ok if you can upload your files encrypted (Don't trust 3rd parties with sensitive files and data, I have seen companies sued for selling people's data)

    Double or triple backup method is your best bet. Keep the backups up to date of course., for a home user I'd say at least a monthly backup if not weekly.
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  • Profile picture of the author zoobie
    you need to run a hard disk recovery software called ontrack to scan your hard drive and try to find all the lost segment that your drive has. But the file may be bit and pieces but you may NOT know what are they.

    For backuping hard drive you should always look for a back up source e.g a CD/DVD or USB flash to backup your important data like customer database if you have any, or any important data you must retain no matter what.

    Hopes that help
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  • Profile picture of the author theunknownthem
    I think a lot of these people are missing the fact that if the hard drive is physically dead, which is likely with the $1000+ recovery fee, that no software solution will work. Also if it's that dead, it's past the clicking stage.

    It cost me $400 to recover parts of files off of a 20 or 30 gig hard drive last year.

    While external usb's are handy in a way, they're also a pain of having to set backups as I suggest never leaving them plugged into power or the computer. They are best to backup once a week or month and left in a fire safe in between.

    I would suggest setting up a mirrored RAID type system for every day redundancy. I would be running one myself if I had a desktop. I've got a terabyte of data and I'd hate to lose it. As it is I need a second 2 terabyte external hard drive to back up my external terabyte drive.
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    • Profile picture of the author digigo
      Originally Posted by theunknownthem View Post

      I think a lot of these people are missing the fact that if the hard drive is physically dead, which is likely with the $1000+ recovery fee, that no software solution will work. Also if it's that dead, it's past the clicking stage.

      It cost me $400 to recover parts of files off of a 20 or 30 gig hard drive last year.

      While external usb's are handy in a way, they're also a pain of having to set backups as I suggest never leaving them plugged into power or the computer. They are best to backup once a week or month and left in a fire safe in between.

      I would suggest setting up a mirrored RAID type system for every day redundancy. I would be running one myself if I had a desktop. I've got a terabyte of data and I'd hate to lose it. As it is I need a second 2 terabyte external hard drive to back up my external terabyte drive.
      RAID1 mirror drive is the way to go... I am shopping for one .. I had some trouble with the disk caddy with the last one I have.. anyone knows a product that comes with screwless caddies? ideally it will be a caddy with plastic latch that does not require a screw driver.. it is a pain to change disks with tiny screws...

      back to OP: find a identical used drive on ebay.. and open the drives and swap the disks? it may just be the head/reader/circuits failure and you can have a fully recovered hardrive
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  • Profile picture of the author Revolves
    I lost a handful of important files a few years back on my XP machine. There are a few ways to create copies of your files.

    1. Use an external HDD. For less than $100 you get good external drives with one touch backup. Just press a button and the software will back all your folders onto the drive.
    2. Backup small documents in a pendrive.
    3. Backup documents like your WSO's and save them in your email account.

    The chances of all devices failing at the same time is very low.
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    • Profile picture of the author peter_act
      Originally Posted by Revolves View Post

      I lost a handful of important files a few years back on my XP machine. There are a few ways to create copies of your files.

      1. Use an external HDD. For less than $100 you get good external drives with one touch backup. Just press a button and the software will back all your folders onto the drive.
      2. Backup small documents in a pendrive.
      3. Backup documents like your WSO's and save them in your email account.

      The chances of all devices failing at the same time is very low.
      1. I've got plenty of external drives on which to back up, I just didn't do it!
      2. Ditto
      3. I did save my WSO's in my gmail account, that's how I got them back. Trouble is of course I only got the templates, not the customisation I'd done.

      Still, I say again - back up your stuff NOW!!!
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      • Profile picture of the author garyfromdurham
        Originally Posted by peter_act View Post

        1. I've got plenty of external drives on which to back up, I just didn't do it!
        2. Ditto
        3. I did save my WSO's in my gmail account, that's how I got them back. Trouble is of course I only got the templates, not the customisation I'd done.

        Still, I say again - back up your stuff NOW!!!
        Peter

        I really feel for you but if it is any consolation I am learning from your mistake and am going to spend the morning backing up.

        Like you I have an external hard drive but rarely use it (yes I'm an idiot!!).

        I would be devastated if this happened to me so am going to back up now.

        Hope you get sorted out and recover your files.

        Gary

        PS. I am just doing the back up right now. A whopping 48.5gb of information in my documents files alone!!!! The estimated time is 17 hours and 37 minutes!
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  • Profile picture of the author Guy G.
    Hey,

    I'm not an expert in this area and probably can't help. However, I can sympathise. I carry around a 40GB external hard drive excised from my old laptop. I use it like a flash drive as a sad reminder that if you don't back things up and keep hardware maintained, you're screwed.

    I'm saving up for a new computer. This was the cheepest option for me now, opposed to paying money for them to 'try' a fresh install that 'might' work.

    Wish you luck,

    Guy
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    First, the freezer deal should be the LAST resort. I could see how that could work, as some drives can work if they are very cold, heat can generate quickly and, if they are out of tolerance, they won't work if they get too hot. Still, a lot can fail ALSO! If your logic board is bad, the freezer is likely to make it WORSE.

    If the drive doesn't read, but SPINS, try a way of setting the geometry right(some interfaces allow this). If it STILL fails to read, the logic board is a good thing to try. if it STILL doesn't spin, go to step 4.

    1. BACKUPS! If you don't have any, try using a fault tolerant file program. Note files that don't copy.
    2. If the bad files are needed, try to copy them several times to another disk. A "soft" error may actually allow you to copy them sometimes.
    3. At THIS point, if you dare, you could try the freezer deal. It isn't TOO likely to work, but MAYBE some hard errors can become soft, and you can get the files like #2.
    4. Some places CAN take the drive apart and recover data. THESE are places that charge hundreds or thousands of dollars though.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author chewie49
    I have the VERY SAME hard drive crashed. And I found on the internet that those HD had a frimware problem. All of them, in less than 8 months, all Crashed!

    Mine is the exactly same model as yours and I am still trying to find a solution.

    I found one, but it is TOO technical for me: Fixing a Seagate 7200.11 Hard Drive (Fixing a Seagate 7200.11 Hard Drive)
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  • Profile picture of the author PCRoger
    digigo,

    If you have the money, look at ReadyNAS. You can start with 2 drives (RAID1) and add more seemlessly.

    There are screws, but the drives are hotswap; and the drives that come with the units are ENTERPRISE level drives, not cheap junk.

    Look at 1nas (dot) com

    Regards,
    PCRoger.
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  • Profile picture of the author Terry Crim
    I had this happen to me few years ago. I went to a local computer shop who was able to recover most of my data. They replaced the hard drive's mother board and ran quite a few recovery software on the drive. Took a few days and cost was around $200.00, but I purchased a new computer rebuild from them and they ended up not charging me for the recovery.

    That rebuild computer lasted me until Windows 7 came out. It actually is still in the other room it just isn't plugged in at all now.

    Spin rite is old software and does not recognize 64 bit operating system partitions.
    There are much better options out there now. Though if you can't access the drive at all I wouldn't touch it and just take it to a recovery specialist. Look in the yellow pages and also online for your local area, here we have a couple computer shops that do recovery, the one I used also had an association with a 3rd party lab if I remember correctly. If I had to have the drive sent to the lab it would have cost over 1k.

    They ended up taking the board off of the drive and replace it with one they had in the store, they had many other types of boards laying around too. I had them take some of my older hard drives that ahd data on them and compile all the drives on to one larger drive. They gave me the old drives including the broken one back to me.

    The freezor trick mentioned above does not work in all cases and totally depends on the problem the drive has. In my case it would not have worked.

    - Terry
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  • Profile picture of the author KimW
    While Spinrite 6 is 4-5 years old by now, it still works for a lot of problems.
    While you are correct that it is not 64 bit, I would guess that most users are not 64 bit yet either.
    Most of the people I know thatare 64 bit are the hard core tech/geek type,not your average user.

    I can't tell you how many times Spinrite saved the day for me back when I had my repair shop.
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