Well, it's finally happened. That wonderful moment where one needs to put a monetary value on their data. I am helping someone out with a Seagate External Hard Drive (500GB FreeAgent Pro) that has recently become unreadable. This hard drive is about two years old and has only been used on a Mac OSX. Within the last few months, the hard drive has been having trouble mounting correctly. Specifically, after connecting it to the computer, the name would appear under DEVICES in the left bar of Finder, but nothing would happen when clicking on it to see the files. Whenever this happened, it would usually be fixed by disconnecting and reconnecting the drive a couple of times.
Now, it has finally given up. It's at the point where no matter how many times it is plugged in, the drive will always appear, but can never be accessed. Also, the noise the hard drive makes when it is plugged in has become increasingly louder lately. It's not making any kind of clicking noise, which I've read is common for dead hard drives, but it just sounds like it is overworking, like it is spinning too fast. The drive cannot be safely unmounted. So the plug just has to be pulled.
The 'Repair Disc' function of the Disk Utility tool on the Mac didn't help anything.
I tried plugging it into a Linux system (Fedora 14). After doing this, a message popped up saying it's a failing hard drive. After clicking on that message, an analysis of the hard drive revealed over 2,000 bad sectors ! However, the drive was actually mounted and this allowed me to see most of the files and folders, although when I actually tried to retrieve any of the data, I would always get an "Encountered an I/O error" message (and occasionally a "Permission denied" error). Similarly, there is an error message when trying to safely unmount this drive, and the plug must be pulled here too.
I tried using ddrescue, but after four hours, it only "rescued" about 1GB of data. So, I interrupted it and tried using 'foremost' to extract the data from the .img file that ddrescue created so far, but the output folder was empty (perhaps because I interrupted the process before it finsihed...?) I may try this again and let it run overnight, but I would like to use this as a last resort since I feel like this drive is already teetering over the edge and I'd hate be the one to push it off.
I also tried to use the demo for Data Rescue 3 from ProSoft, which at least gives an analysis of whether the data can be saved. This program said it couldn't detect any files to rescue.
I feel like there's hope considering my Linux system can see (but not access) most of the folders and files.
Like any data on a back-up drive, it is absolutely crucial that I recover the maximum amount of data from the drive. I'm also trying to avoid spending $1000+ to send it off to a recovery center. I am looking for any and all suggestions of what I can do to get this data.
Thanks in advance.