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Hard Drive Failure - Seen in BIOS but not My Computer


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#1
sdunlimited

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Hi Folks!

Thanks for the excellent forums with tons of useful information and knowledgable assistants - you are appreciated.



Here's my situation:

My desktop PC is:

Sony Vaio
XP Media Center Ed. SP2
P4 3.2Ghz
1GB RAM
160GB Seagate HDD (NEW)
250GB Western Digital HDD (failed former master)


Last week, the Western Digital Hard Drive failed on me. This was the only drive in the system at the time. The PC stays on for weeks/months at a time and one morning I attempted to wake it up but got no response. Did a hard shut down and upon reboot I got the error:

The following file is missing or corrupt:
\windows\system32\config\system

I did some research on this and it looked like a relatively easy fix (please understand that I learn all of this as needed on the fly and am by no means an expert!). I got an MS DOS boot disk and thought I was going to fix this thing in a few minutes.
Upon starting up the PC again, I got another error which I believe was now:

S.M.A.R.T command failed

I can't recall exactly, but I think this was the 2nd error I got. Again, another shut down and restart which has ultimately lead me to a situation that I am perceiving as the system not recognizing this drive at all. I also attempted to repair using the recovery disks, but it told me:

No C: drive found

It wanted to do a complete reformat but I didn't want to due to the amount of data I wanted to attempt to recover (about 30Gigs - ouch!)

After more research on recovering data and 'fixing' dead HDD's, I decided to go out and grab another HDD (the Seagate) that would allow me a platform to work from with both drives in the same machine.
I installed the new drive by itself first, used the recovery disks to set up the PC to it's original state, got some Virus protection on there and completed all the XP updates.
Once I got these in order, I plugged the Western Digital drive back in, rebooted and hoped for the best. The system didn't like the idea of having that drive back in the loop and took a while to figure out what was going on but finally booted into XP without any issues.

I check My Computer and the drive isn't recognized.
I reboot and go into the BIOS where it IS recognized (I saw this as a good sign)

I do more research on the forums to see what other folks have run into and then check Disk Management where the drive is NOT recognized.
Again, more research which leads me to Testdisk software ( www.cgsecurity.org ) that sounded like it may help. I download and run but this program also does NOT recognize the Western Digital drive.

I'm now thinking that my next (best?) option is to purchase Spinrite ( www.spinrite.com ) and give that a whirl. Does anybody have any experience with this? Any idea as to whether or not this will even be able to access and attempt to repair this drive?

My concerns are that XP is not recognizing it at all. Not sure if it's a boot sector/MBR thing or what. Could it be a matter of fixing a corrupted boot record and I'm back in business? I see the fact that the BIOS acknowledges the drive as a good thing and am hoping that this will give me a chance to at least recover some data.

The drive itself doesn't and hasn't made any funny noises - no scratching, squealing, crunching, etc. Sounds normal and no different than it did on day one. We had some big storms in the area a few weeks ago with power surges/spikes, but this machine is hooked up to a UPS. Before the system went down for good (like 2-3 days before) the power failed and I attempted to shut down before it was gone altogether, but when I went to turn on the monitor to see what I was doing to shut down, it drained the UPS and the system just shut down. When power was restored (36hrs later!!!!) I booted up the system without any issues at all. It stayed on for the 2 or 3 days until I attempted to wake it up as mentioned above and began the slew of errors/failures.


Any ideas on this one that may allow me to recover data? That's obviously the goal. If the drive is 100% shot, then I've got my PC back w/the new drive sans 30gigs of data. What a valuable lesson in backing up!

Any help, assistance, guidance, etc is appreciated as always.

Thank you for your time and attention - if you need any further details from me, please let me know and I'll be glad to oblige.

Take care~
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#2
The Skeptic

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Use this link to download WD Data Lifeguard diagnostic program. On the left coloumn choose the model of the HD identical to yours. From the right coloumn download Data LifeGurad for windows. Run the program and see if it identifies your old disk If it does, run a complete test of the failed disk. Do not run any test on the new disk.

If the disk is still not recognized download a DOS version and create a bootable CD or floppy. Disconnect the new drive and leave only the old one connected and properly jumpered. Boot the computer with the bootable media in place. The program should open up. If it doesn't make the drive first in boot priority. If the disk is identified run a full test.
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#3
sdunlimited

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Thank you for taking the time to look at this with me.


After I got home from the office today I attempted the steps above and here's what I got:

The WD Lifeguard program downloaded fine and ran on the machine without any issues.
It did detect the WD drive

When I run a 'Quick Test' on the drive I get the error window:

'Cable Test::Could not open SMART or port driver on drive 6!'

When I run an 'Extended Test' on the drive I got the error window:

'Too many bad sectors detected'

I didn't like the sounds of that one too much!

The extended test was running for a few minutes and claiming that it would take approx. 16hrs to complete. About 5-8mins into the process was when I got the error.

I was encouraged by the fact that the program recognized the drive and attempted to take a look at it. I was hoping that since it can be accessed in this way that there may be a way to attempt to recover data.

With this being done and the results being what they are, what suggestions do you have for me to try and recover some of the data? Should I be looking at the data recovery options that are available or are there other things you can suggest?
The two programs I'm currently thinking about to take a swing at this with are Spinrite and Acronis.

Thanks again for any assistance!

Take care~
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#4
The Skeptic

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I would try to recover the data first. Then I would try a clear format of the disk to see if it can be saved.
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#5
sdunlimited

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I went ahead and purchased Spinrite last night and got it running on that drive at about 9pm EST. I'm doing a Level 2 scan to recover unreadable data - looks like it's going to take several days to get through the whole drive. It's been about 18hrs and Spinrite has gone through 26.5mil bytes. It's a 250gig drive with about 50gis of data on it so I'm not sure how long it will take. I'm thinking at least 3-5 days to do it's thing.
I'll post again once I see what progress if any I get on this.

Thanks again and take care~
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#6
sdunlimited

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I wanted to reply quickly to close this out:

I ran Spinrite on the WD drive for just under 4 days. I contacted customer support at Spinrite to see if this was normal and was told it was not. They offered up 4 additional solutions to attempt to get Spinrite to access the drive more completely. I attempted 2 of them and didn't get anywhere (re-starting Spinrite beyond where it got hung up and a BIOS upgrade to see if it would assist in allowing access to the damaged drive). At this point I began to question the importance of the data on the drive.
For now, it's unplugged but still in the tower for a potential revisit in the distant future if I have days of free time to kill on data recovery. Perhaps it will find it's way out of the tower one day and finally become the proverbial 'door stop'.

Thanks again for the advice and assistance.

Take care~
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