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Hard Disk Comes Up Empty...Is it Recoverable?


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#1
gregger

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Hi all,

Sadly, the hard drive (a Seagate Barracuda 7200.8, with 200GB) on my eMachines T6420 is showing no content. We run XP Media Center Edition 2005. I have figured out six things:

1) My wife left our PC on after normal use. A couple of hours later, my son wandered by and saw a "full screen of DOS" error messaging which he intepreted as a system crash. He left it alone and went to bed.

2) In the morning, son looked again and the long error messaging was gone. It was replaced by a black screen with the DOS message, "Press F11 to start recovery A disk read error occurred." He innocently hit F11; when prompted, the System Restore disk was inserted, eMachines Restore (Angel) started, and the screen showed drivers and such being loaded. The process then stopped with the dialogue, "Restore will erase all data and files from the user partition, and copy the factory files to the user partition. All data will be lost....OK?" at which point we both said "Whoa!" and turned off the PC.

3) Since then, when attempting to boot from the hard drive, the boot drive spins, there are two almost inaudible beeps, and the same message appears: "Press F11 to start recovery A disk read error occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart."

4) If I boot to a DOS command prompt, I get a dumbed-down version of DOS that knows virtually no commands except "DIR", and when I issue that, the response is

Volume in drive C is RECOVERY
Volume Serial Number i 423B-2BDF
Directory of C:
SYSTEM~1 <DIR> 10-29-05 9:50p

0 file(s) 0 bytes
1 dir(s) 1,559,855,104 bytes free

5) To check out the hard drive, I made a bootable CD of SeaTools for DOS and ran it. I ran both short and long tests including DST diagnostics, and all tests show "PASSED." The test log file indicates no bad sectors, no repairs. Here is the gist of the log:

Device is ST3200826A S/N 3ND2D8AW Max native address: 390721967
SMART is supported and ENABLED
SMART has NOT been triggered
DST is supported
Logging feature set is supported
POH 21379 Current temp 45

6) That's all in know, but I have these questions if anyone can please help answer them:

A - Is the hard drive indeed empty (meaning, all of my files/data are gone)? (SeaTools does not show how much content, if any, is on the drive and does not have a directory feature. Only tests and an array of erasure tools!)
B - If so, is any of the former files/data recoverable, through something like Disk Doctor software (since the disk physically checks out ok)?
C - If the data is not recoverable through software, is is possible that sending the disk off to a recovery lab and paying a few hundred bucks would recover it? (Not sure which service to use...GeekSquad charges $260 and sends the disk to a recovery lab.)

Note, I do not have another desktop PC in the house, but plenty of laptops. Due to stupidity, the "empty" hard drive had not been backed up in months. My wife really would like her Outlook .pst file and various other files back, if possible.

Thanks for any answers to these questions, and any other tips!

-- gregger

Edited by gregger, 07 July 2010 - 09:34 AM.

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#2
phillpower2

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Have you tried this:
To restore system software from the hard drive backup copy:
1;Restart the computer, then press F11 when prompted to start the
restore process. The System Recovery program starts. You have
three seconds to press F11 before Windows starts.
2;Click a system restore option. For more information, see
“Restoration options” on page 5
http://support.gatew...ops/8510406.pdf
Non-Destructive System Restore (Recommended)
Full System Restore (Destructive)
Full System Restore (with Backup) (Advanced Option)
3;Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the system
If you are able to get the computer working run xp checkdisk;
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315265
And then download and run recuva from here http://download.cnet...4-10753287.html
What is left on the HDD depends on which F11 recovery option was chosen.
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#3
phillipcorcoran

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The quickest DIY method of checking what, if anything, is on the disk is to buy an external drive enclosure -- put your "poorly" drive into it (very easy task) and plug it into a USB port on a working laptop. Windows will take a few seconds to detect the drive and will assign a new drive letter to it. You can than explore it in the usual way.

Tip: make sure the external drive enclosure has the same internal connection interface as the drive you want to put into it (eg IDE or SATA -- some can support either but some only support one or the other). Take the drive with you to a computer shop if you are unsure).

Edited by phillipcorcoran, 07 July 2010 - 03:25 PM.

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#4
123Runner

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Before running any restore on the drive I would suggest that you attempt data recovery 1st. We should try that incase the restore goes bottoms up.
Since You did not do a reformat on the drive I suspect that the data is still there and the all the boot files OS are messed up.

There are a couple way that this can be attempted.
One easy way is to put the drive in a USB enclosure and then you can plug it into a laptop and use explorer to copy the data. I do not know for sure if we can get the Outlook file though (I believe we can though).

You can also use a live linux CD to boot the computer and copy off the file.

Get Puppy Linux Download this file:
puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso
and burn it to cd
..
If you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files get burncdcc from my signature below ..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 puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.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 in 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..You must 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..

Thanks to happyrock
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#5
gregger

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Have you tried this:
To restore system software from the hard drive backup copy:
1;Restart the computer, then press F11 when prompted to start the
restore process. The System Recovery program starts. You have
three seconds to press F11 before Windows starts.
2;Click a system restore option. For more information, see
“Restoration options” on page 5
http://support.gatew...ops/8510406.pdf
Non-Destructive System Restore (Recommended)
Full System Restore (Destructive)
Full System Restore (with Backup) (Advanced Option)
3;Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the system
If you are able to get the computer working run xp checkdisk;
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315265
And then download and run recuva from here http://download.cnet...4-10753287.html
What is left on the HDD depends on which F11 recovery option was chosen.


Yup, I did think of that. Every time I reboot and issue F11 to go into eMachines System Recovery 3.0, I get a black DOS screen with progress bar while the message "Preparing System Recovery Options" appears.

Then I get the graphical System Recovery page, where in fact the system has icons showing the 5-stage process. The first icon, "Selecting Recovery Option," cannot be selected, as the second icon "Hard Disk Prep" is already highlighted. (The other icons, in order, are Copying Files, Changing CD-ROM, ad Finalizing Recovery.) Nothing on he screen works, except the "OK" button in the following dialogue: "System Restore - Format and Recover (title). All files, including data files, on the user portion wll be ost an the original factory-shipped files will be recovered to the user portion. Do you want to continue?"

This is the only operative part of the screen. I think that before, my son inadvertently made a "data destructive" selection on recovery options, and we went through the beginnings of the next stage (Hard Disk Prep) to this dialogue box. Now, we are stuck here and can't seem to get System Recovery to do anything.

Your thoughts?

Thanks!

Edited by gregger, 07 July 2010 - 08:44 PM.

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#6
phillpower2

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The Full System Restore (Destructive) option being the one selected
was what I was afraid of, and the HDD now seems frozen at the point of
no return system recovery wise, as you have looked at the data recovery
service option the data on the HDD is obviously important, and the best
course of action would be to follow the advice of phillipcorcoran and
123Runner to use a usb enclosure and a laptop to recover whatever
data you can and then do a clean install of the OS etc.
There is also the Puppy Linux option mentioned by 123Runner with thanks
to happyrock which ever option you choose I hope it works out for you.
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