HDD expired; one partition accessible, one not - but visible to CHDKSK...?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by HarryBosch, Jul 31, 2007.

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  1. HarryBosch

    HarryBosch Registered Member

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    Hello everyone... I know this is not a forum dedicated specifically to data recovery, but with so much experience under one roof, I feel that some great advice may be in my midst, and so I thought I would ask in this general software forum...

    My drive (two-year old Seagate), divided in two partitions, suddenly started choking as I was accessing the second partition. After messages about errors and failure while reading the media, XP froze and I reset the PC. Then I noticed a major slowdown while XP was booting from the primary partition; it halted with a blue screen and reset. I tried booting from a snapshot created by a system recovery tool which I use; I also tried using the "last working configuration"; nothing. The primary partition seemed damaged, too. I tried booting with ERD Commander and accessing the drive, but it did not see the primary partition and had major problems reading the secondary one. So, I took the drive out, plugged it as a slave on another system, and tried accessing it from there.

    There were major slowdowns every time Explorer or any tool tried to list the available drives, but I accessed the secondary partition and after one night, I successfully managed to recover 90% of the data stored on that partition - then I emptied it and CHKDSK-ed it; several hundred KBs of bad sectors were found; overall, I thought the recovery ratio from that partition was very good though. Time came to try something with the primary partition... and it turned out XP couldn't see it at all. The partition is seen as only a drive letter, without any file system, volume label or capacity (ERD declared it "raw".) Nothing seems to be able to access it from XP.

    I would have just considered it DOA if it wasn't for one thing: interestingly, CHKDSK does see the drive. Ran on it, it recognizes it as NTFS and lists its correct volume label. Then a series of errors of "file record segment xxxx is unreadable" starts appearing. I left it for another night of testing (there were hundreds of thousands of those) and it ended - and now I'm wondering what else I could try using to salvage anything from this partition. I will try booting from Bart's PE and doing something there, but I'm not expecting much. Anything else? Any other tools? Recommended ways and utilities to access it from outside XP? Maybe booting to Linux and trying something from it? (I'm afraid that while I have some experience with Linux, it's nothing to write home about)

    The "symptoms" are, as I described - major slowdowns every time anything tries to get a listing of available drives or access the primary partition on the Seagate disk, invisibility of anything on or about the drive to all XP tools that I tried, visibility of at least the drive's characteristics and some file records to CHKDSK (not every segment showed up with an error while CHKDSK was testing the drive), almost completely proper access to the second partition of the same disk (apart from those bad sectors.)

    Anything recommendable? That includes things that may not work as expected (as long as they could only endanger the damaged Seagate and nothing else - I certainly don't plan to use the drive for anything, and if I can only recover as much data as possible from the inaccessible partition, the disk will then just become a paper weight.)

    Thanks in advance...!
     
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    When you ran chkdsk on the first partition, did it also report a lot of bad sectors? Did it report that the problems were "fixed" or that it couldn't fix them?

    Is there data that you actually, really need on this drive? If data recovery is extremely important, then I wouldn't recommend running chkdsk or any other "repair" software before trying some recovery software as the "fixes" made by chkdsk may make recovery more difficult or even impossible.

    It sounds to me like the drive got damaged, possibly in the FAT area and now it can't access any of the files. Also, once bad sectors start appearing and continue to appear the drive is usually gone.

    If you have Knoppix you could boot to the Knoppix cd and try and mount the partition. Maybe it would recognize it and allow some file recovery.

    If you want to test the drive, you could download the Seagate HD utilities (SeaTools) and run some tests (this will stress the drive, so if recovery is important, wait to do this).

    I would be curious if the drive is actually "destroyed" or if a wipe and reformat would fix it. This would, of course, destroy any chance of retrieving any files.

    I had a drive "fail" in a kind of similar way when the controller card went bad. The entire FAT (both copies) was corrupted and all the files were "mangled" and "cross-linked" so that recovering them was not possible. I cleared the drive and reformatted it and it worked for a while after that, but not for long.

    For some more information on chkdsk and how it works, you might take a look at this: An explanation of the new /C and /I Switches that are available to use with Chkdsk.exe
     
  3. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    HarryBosch,

    I think you have done well to get data off this failing drive. Not meaning to be nasty but you haven't mentioned the word "backup". You don't seem to be a man who doesn't have a backup that could save the situation. Was your snapshot a Drive SnapShot?

    One thought. Try Partition Table Doctor to see if that Raw partition can be converted to something readable.

    http://www.ptdd.com/

    Also, have you looked at the partition table with ptedit? What type is the primary partition in ptedit?

    ftp://ftp.symantec.com/public/english_us_canada/tools/pq/utilities/ptedit.zip

    NTFS is 07. If it's something else, change it to 07.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2007
  4. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    If you want to use a professional data recovery group, I have had excellent recommendations on Gillware based on both price and effectiveness:
    http://www.gillware.com/

    If you want to try something yourself, then Gibson SpinRite is what I'd use. It's famous for saving drives - although in your case it might be more like raising the dead. :)
    http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
     
  5. HarryBosch

    HarryBosch Registered Member

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    Thanks, guys. The partition was of correct type, as it turned out. The recovery utilities didn't work, unfortunately -- eventually it turned out that Linux was the answer. Plugged into another PC, with the Knoppix CD booted, the damaged hard disk (after almost exactly 48 hours of choking, stalling, pausing, emitting frightening noises and skipping several thousand of unreadable files -- while I was reading the description of SpinRite and getting ready to order :)) finally yesterday gave away almost 70% of the partition that XP couldn't access in any way... and that is now restored in those 70%. The remaining 30% came from backups (a few weeks old :( -- but at least they were still there... :) and all went onto a new hard disk. (And other backup places, too)

    (The snapshots were FDISR's, by the way. I need to start archiving those more often...)

    Anyway, I thought that was it, until Chapter II apparently began today: the new, freshly plugged hard disk, in place of the damaged one, just started behaving in exactly the same way: the second partition slowed down with CRC errors while reading some files, and, after I archived everything from both partitions and cleaned the problematic partition, it showed bad sectors when CHKDSK-ed.

    This is really puzzling me now and I'm wondering what could be the cause. Unless it's a billion-to-one coincidence and I just had two faulty drives, it's something else, and my first thought was the controller. But the thing is, I have another hard disk -- one partition, installed in the PC with the original and now damaged Seagate -- and that one is working smoothly. A controller problem would affect the second disk too, wouldn't it? The old Seagate and the newly installed disk (Western Digital) have only several things in common: both were divided into two NTFS partitions, with XP on the primary one -- and both were plugged in to the same Master socket, with the same SATA cables. Could the cables or the socket be at fault, could they somehow actually cause all that? That's the only thing I could think of now... Just in case, I now plugged the new disk into the second, previously unoccupied Master socket with a brand new cable, and left it to have the surface tested with CHDKSK.

    (I will probably buy another Seagate disk now in place of the now-suffering new WD disk, too -- since I was quick to blame their hardware for the failure, but I was missing the real culprit apparently. Question is, what will turn out to be the real culprit? I hope I can identify it without having to change everything in the PC... :\)
     
  6. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    The "noises" and "stalling" and "bad sectors" can also be caused by a bad power plug connector/connection. I've had this happen on two different computers. The connection in the plug was borderline and it would let the drive work, just barely.

    One way to find out is to wiggle the power wires where they plug into the drive and listen for spin-up noises or clicks from the drive.

    In one case, I repaired the plug and in the other, I used another plug from the power supply.

    It is also possible that the new drive is bad. I just recently had to RMA a drive after only a few days.
     
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