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Hard Driver Failed - What to do?


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#1
nates_tips

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A hard drive in a old Dell Optiplex system failed on me not to along ago. It is not recognized in the system BIOS. I took it out and installed it in another computer, and had the same problem, so it is definitely the hard drive.

I also installed it as slave in another system, but when I did, the system froze. I tried over and over again, but no luck.

There is no clicking or grinding noises in this one, so I assume that it is NOT a mechanical issue. Also, when I plug it into a PSU, it powers up and runs, I just can't access it.

Can you give me any suggestions on how to recover this data? I'm confident that I can handle whatever you guys throw at me. I'm pretty computer savvy, I just have never had to recover hard drive data till now.

Thanks!
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#2
Kelly Wright

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When plugging the drive into another system, did you use the data cable from your DELL box?
If yes, then it would be great luck to have the problem in the cable.
But I doubt it's that easy. Hard drives do fail unexpectedly. Is there any data recovery service near you, like Ontrack? I'd bring the HDD right there.
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#3
nates_tips

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Hi Kelly,

Thank you for the response. It is definitely a hard drive problem. This computer belongs to a friend who purchased the computer back in 2004 from a hospital that was updating their systems. The computer was released back in 2001, so there is no box or anything with it.

As I mentioned, I tried installing this hard drive in another system as a master, and got the same error.
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#4
Kelly Wright

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Oh, so the drive is 8 years old? Pretty solid age for this piece of equipment.
I can only make guesses as to what is faulty, perhaps it's electronics, or pins.
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#5
123Runner

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nates_tips

A hard drive from 1 computer that has an OS on it that is taken out and installed into another computer as an OS drive is just asking for problems. Generally speaking it won't work. There will be chipset and driver issues.
Since you tried slaving it and it froze the other computer, it evidently has problems.

Since it is not recognized in the bios, what I am about to suggest probably won't work. You evidently know the manufacturer, so go to the drive manufacturers site and get their diagnostic tools (link in my signature). Burn the tools to a CD (it is a iso file) You can use Burncdcc from my signature.

We can also try a linux based program that runs from a CD and see if that will see the drive so we can attempt recovery of the data. Unfortunately a professional recovery service will be very expensive.

Puppy Linux (Info fro Happyrock)

you can remove the drive and slave it to a working system to get your data...

or you can try puppy linux...
get puppy linux...Get puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso download it and burn it to cd
..
if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files go and get burncdcc ..a small FAST no frills iso burning program...

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ....in this case its memtest86.iso
3. Select the ISO file
4. click on Start

make sure in the bios the cd drive is the first boot device....

put the cd in the cd drive..boot your computer....puppy will boot and run totally in ram...if your hardware is is good working order you will know...
after you get it running and your at the desktop...you take the puppy linux cd out and then you can use the burner to copy all yor data to cd/dvds
you can also use it to backup your data to a external usb harddrive..just have it hooked to the computer when you boot up with puppy...
==========================
quick guide for saving data...music..files on a system that will not boot using puppy Linux..


after you get to puppy desktop..
click on the drives icon...looks like a flash drive...top row..it will list all the drives connected to

your computer...

click on the red icon for the drive you want to mount...in this case its a flash drive ...puppy will

mount the drive..the drive icon turns green when its mounted...
minimize the drives mounter window..you will need it again in a few minutes..
drag the right edge of it sideways to shrink it to its narrowest size...about half the width of the screen...then drag the window to the right edge of the screen...

now click on the icon that looks like a filing cabinet (kind of yellow) on the main drive...it should
already be green..
you will see a list of all the folders on the main drive Usually your C: drive..shrink that window to
the narrowest you can..about half the width of the screen...drag that window to the left side of the screen...
at this point you should have 2 windows open on your desktop..the flash drive on the right side..
go back to the folders on the C: drive...click on the documents and settings folder...then your user
name or all users..find the folders that has your data..
drag and drop the folder with the data you want to make copies of to the flash drive window...

your options are to move ..copy ect...JUST COPY..if its to big you will have to open the folder and
drag and drop individual files until the flash drive is full...(I have a 120 GB external USB drive for
big data recovery jobs and a 4 GB flash drive for the smaller jobs)..after you get the files copied to
the flash drive...
Click on the drives mounter you minimized earlier
UNMOUNT THE FLASH DRIVE by clicking on the green icon..you will once in awhile get error messages when
unmouting the drive..ignore them..when the flash drive icon turns red again its safe to remove the
flash drive..trot on over (stroll if you want to look cool) to another computer and plug in the flash

drive and copy all the data files ( I drag and drop) to the other computer..
make sure the other computer can read them...

now delete the data on the flash drive...take it back to the misbehaving computer and plug it in

again..click on the drives icon again and repeat until you have all your data transferred to the working
system..

Again thanks to Happyrock for the instructions.

123runner
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#6
nates_tips

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This particular hard drive that I am working with at the moment was my Pastor's hard drive. He was never backed up his system, and he had hundreds of priceless study notes on this hard drive.

Let me give a background on this issue....back in 04' the Hospital was clearing out their Dell OptiPlex computers for only $50 a piece. Not knowing any better, the church purchased the computers for all of their staff. Even though the price sounded low, it really isn't. Some of the Dell's date back from 2001. So, these computers probably are about 8 years old. That is pushing the envelope for a desktop. Since the computers were used at a hospital, I doubt that these were abused, but they probably had heavy use. Old computers such as the Optiplex can be problematic. A hard drive could die at any time. The same goes for a power supply. Everything in the box is probably tired.

So, with that in mind, all that I want to do is attempt to recover this data.
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#7
nates_tips

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123Runner,

you posted while I was writing the previous message. Thanks for the info. I'm reading your answer now.
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#8
diabillic

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A drive is a drive, doesnt matter who makes the computer.

Your best bet without sending it to a clean room would be to swap out the logic board on the bottom. You need a drive of the same brand and same FW revision to do so.
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#9
nates_tips

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diabillic - thanks for the tip. I'll give that a try if puppy linux doesn't work. As important as this data is, the church can't afford $$$$ to send it to a clean room, so I'm trying to see what I can do.

I greatly appreciate the replies!
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#10
diabillic

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If your BIOS doesnt see the drive, a linux boot cd wont either. Cant hurt though.
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#11
nates_tips

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Disk Read Error - Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to continue.


That's the error I get.
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#12
123Runner

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I hate to ask this, but what is the OS on that. I am thinking of a boot disk maybe that we can possibly attempt a check disk. Of course that might not work either, but we have to throw ideas and attempts.

123runner
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#13
nates_tips

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I hate to ask this, but what is the OS on that. I am thinking of a boot disk maybe that we can possibly attempt a check disk. Of course that might not work either, but we have to throw ideas and attempts.


Hey, any suggestions you may have; bring it on. That's why I asked!

The OS was Windows XP.
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#14
nates_tips

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Thanks again, everyone, for the help! I really appreciate all of the well thought out replies and support that you have provided. :)
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#15
123Runner

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Try running the check disk utility from the recovery console. You will need a XP installation CD (home or Pro) but same type as installed.
Of course this will only work if the drive can be seen. Unfortunately, I think the drive is DOA.

Boot from the Windows XP installation CD.

At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press R to start Recovery Console. Choose the installation to be repaired by number (usually 1) and press "Enter".

When you are asked for the Administrator password, leave it blank and press "Enter".

At the command prompt, type chkdsk /r and press "Enter". (Note the space before /r) The disk check operation will start.

This will be a very thorough check of the hard drive and the file system...be patient and let it complete. It may appear to hang or even back up a few times...this is normal. 60 to 90 minutes is not unusual for this check...it may take longer in some cases.

Once the check completes and you are back at the command prompt, type exit and press "Enter". Let your computer boot normally to Windows.

123runner
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