How to Recover Data Even When Hard Drive is Damaged


Here at GeekyProjects we have been receiving hard drives for a while from all over the world and recovering their data in exchange for donations to the site. (We even received one from a soldier stationed in Afghanistan once).   However, lately our focus has shifted towards the website itself and we no longer have the time to continue with the service. Nevertheless, we have decided to share our knowledge with the public in a series of articles, and this one is probably one of the most important. How to recover data even when the hard drive is damaged.

Many data recovery services charge big dollars for this, and it is a procedure you can do at home, without having to open the hard drive. This procedure however, does not work for all cases, but it does work for a big percentage of them even when the hard drive has the famous “click noise of death”.

Note: Before attempting this procedure, make sure the damaged hard drive is being detected by the computer’s BIOS. If the computer cannot detect the hard drive then no software will detect it. To do this the drive must be connected directly a computer’s IDE or SATA cable, not by USB. Then you must go into the computer’s BIOS to see if it is being detected.

Ubuntu Rescue Remix and Ddrescue

Ubuntu Rescue Remix is a Linux Live CD. It already comes with a whole array of data recovery tools. One of them is Ddrescue. Ddrescue, is one of the best data recovery programs available and it is free. Ddrescue works by extracting a raw image of your hard drive and transferring it to another drive.  It extracts data bit by bit, regardless of the file system on the drive. The reason it works even when hard drives are dying is because Ddrescue retries several times and even tries to read data backwards. The procedure sometimes can take days, but it is very effective.


The Setup

The procedure involves 3 drives:

1) Your source drive (your damaged hard drive),

2) Your destination drive, this hard drive has to be slightly bigger than the source because it contains the raw image which will occupy the exact same size as your “source” drive, you then need a little extra space for the log files created by DDrescue. This drive must be totally empty or data in it will be overwritten!!!.

3) A drive to extract the raw image to. This drive can be the exact same size or bigger than your original “source” drive, but never smaller. This drive must also be totally empty or the data in it will be overwritten!!!.



As you can see by the picture down below I have two hard drives connected to the computer’s controller card. One is the source and the other the destination drive. I usually flip them upside down so that gravity helps a little if the arms are too close to the plates. However, some hard drives have the arms upside down, so see what works best for you. Be sure to place the drives on a flat surface to prevent vibration. Both hard drives in the picture are SATA, nevertheless, you can have IDEs restoring to SATAs and vice versa (or even to USB drives, but they can be harder for Ubuntu Rescue Remix to detect).

Keep Hard Drive Cool During Recovery

Place a 125mm case fan on top of the broken hard drive, making sure the air flows downwards in the direction of the hard drive. If you have a smaller 2.5 inch laptop hard drive you can use a smaller fan. Just make sure the fan is a little bigger than the hard drive, otherwise, the air won’t be able to escape and therefore won’t cool the sides of the hard drive. This is done to ensure optimal performance during recovery. This is optional but highly recommended. Sometimes the drive starts functioning properly just by cooling it off!.


Extracting the Raw Image

Download the ISO CD image of Ubuntu Rescue Remix (It’s linux, so it’s free), burn the CD and boot the computer with it.

Plug in the source and destination drives and run the following command that will tell you how many drives Ubuntu is seeing:

sudo lshw -C disk -short

The “lshw” command can sometimes be unreliable. If not all of your hard drives are being displayed, try the following command:

cat /proc/partitions

The “cat” command might not give you many details about the drives, but it will display all of them reliably.  For example, if  “lshw” only shows you one out of two drives, just by running the “cat” command and using simple deduction you can determine what the logical name of the missing drive is. (“Cat” will display drives and its partitions; drives are the ones without numbers at the end. Example: a drive will show as /dev/sda and a partition as /dev/sda1)

Identify the logical name of your destination drive (the drive where you will dump the contents of the damaged hard drive to). Create a Linux partition on that drive so that you can dump the image from your bad hard drive in there. Lets say, for this example, you have identified your destination drive as: /dev/sda. (yours could be sdb, sdc, sdd, etc. So change the following command according to what you have). *** Make sure not to confuse your source and destination drives, or you might end-up overwriting all your data***. Issue the following command at your shell prompt to format the destination drive:

sudo mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda

After formating, mount the destination drive, create a “recovery” directory, and get inside it.  To do this execute the following commands one by one (some of these commands may require sudo in front):

sudo mkdir mnt
sudo mount /dev/sda mnt
cd mnt
sudo mkdir recovery
cd recovery

After issuing the last command “cd recovery” you are inside the newly created recovery directory in your destination drive. Now, assuming you have identified your source hard drive as /dev/sdb (the broken hard drive you will be extracting the data from), run Ddrescue to extract the raw data, creating a file on the destination drive called “image” and a log file called “log”:

sudo ddrescue -r 3 /dev/sdb image log

This command will begin extracting the raw image from the bad hard drive, placing it inside the “recovery” directory on your destination drive. Take a look at the last two words in your command line; “image” is the name you are giving your your raw data image file, so, all your data will be stored in one single file named “image”. The las word “log”, is the name of your log file. You can change the name of these two file names to whatever you wish. The log file is extremely useful since it tells Ddrescue at what point it is during the data extraction process, therefore, it will know at what point to begin again if the process gets interrupted. In case of such an event all that needs to be done is to issue the same previous command, using the same file and log names inside the same directory containing the partial raw image file.


Restoring the Raw Image

When finished getting the image, unmount your destination drive by issuing the following command:

sudo umount /dev/sda

and turn the computer off. If you don’t unmount the drive before turning the computer off, the “lshw” command will have a hard time finding this same drive next time your run the command (notice the command is spelled umount not unmount).

Now we have acquired the image, however, since it is in raw format it is unreadable. We need to extract this image to a third hard drive. With the computer turned off unplug the damaged hard drive. We do not need it anymore. Plug in a good hard drive of equal or higher capacity, boot the computer with Ubuntu Rescue Remix and run the command to identify the drives again. Go inside the directory where the images are stored (in the source drive). Now the hard drive containing the raw image will be your source and your new empty hard drive will be your destination. Assuming your source drive is /dev/sda (the one containing the raw image), enter the following commands one by one to mount and enter your source drive:
sudo mkdir mnt
sudo mount /dev/sda mnt
cd mnt
cd recovery

Then and assuming your destination is /dev/sdb (your new empty drive where the raw image will be restored to), make sure your drive it empty otherwise you will overwrite your data) issue the following command to restore the image to your new drive:

sudo ddrescue image /dev/sdb


Make partition Active


Connect your hard drive to another computer (as a slave or by USB) and see if you can access the files. If you cannot, and the partition inside the hard drive is a Windows partition (NTFS, Fat, etc.), you might need to make the partition “active” using another Windows computer. If that is the case, connect the hard drive (as a slave or by USB) to a computer that has Windows and do the following:

Click on Start (The start orb in Vista and Windows 7) >> Click Run (“Search for programs” field in Vista and 7) >> type diskmgmt.msc and press enter.

This will bring up Disk Management. Right click on your newly connected drive and click on “Mark Partition as Active”


Fix Corrupt Partition (If Needed)

Go to “my computer” on the current computer and see if you can browse the files inside the hard drive, if you cannot, you have a bad MBR or partition table. Use TestDisk to fix it (comes with Ubuntu Rescue Remix). I have written an article just for this, click here to read it.


  1. Prashant, 19. November 2011, 5:51

    Hi Pablo,
    Kindly respond to my query dated 10. September 2011, 4:35 below. Please, since long I was waiting for you to come back to this forum.

  2. Terrak, 11. November 2011, 2:46

    Thanks for the response Mr Garcia, its very much appreciated.

  3. Pablo Garcia, 7. November 2011, 9:17

    Hi Terrak
    If the BIOS does not detect the drive or shows an incorrect size, then no operating system will. So, do not waste your time.

  4. Terrak, 3. November 2011, 22:25

    Hi Mr Garcia

    Thanks for the information on this site. I am interested to try this But have a question to ask before starting. I have 2 HDD that have the same problem. They have been moved/dropped whilst on and now do not work correctly. They show up in the Bios but as a blank, no Name, no HDD size. Can URR fix these hdd? i want to know before i start. Any help would be appreciated

    Kind regards


  5. Prashant, 10. September 2011, 4:35

    Hi Pablo, please, please spare some time if possible and advise on my earlier query (reproduced below):
    URR detects drives (like /dev/sda, sda1.. , /dev/sdb..) in linux fashion. My problem is- that it sees drives/partitions of internal hard disk, destination drive (portable 160GB) & even pen drive (that holds URR) but does not detect/see the 80GB damaged Toshiba drive at all which is very correctly seen by BIOS & is connected to IDE. (I also tried to see this damaged drive through TestDisk and Photorec but they are also listing all other drives/partitions but not this drive). I have also cleaned the contact-points of board but no success.

    Please, I need your expert comments. Thanks a lot! (my problem in detail is mentioned in my post dated 20 August 2011, 2:02 below)

  6. AK 11:11, 3. September 2011, 13:07

    Hi Pablo, I appreciate how busy you must be! I have found the correct PCB for my drive in stock in the States, but it comes with the following

    This PCB’s BIOS is intergrated on the Main Controller IC. You should exchange the Main Controller IC to let the HDD be recognized.

    Is this a Necessity?



  7. AK 11:11, 2. September 2011, 18:35

    Ok here’s an update….i have removed the PCB on the HDD and didnt seem to have any contacts to clean – However there is this

    What seems to be a burt out chip? Please tell me that this will be the cause of the Drive not being able to be recognised by the BIOs or is my optimism misplaced and this would have been caused by the head failure which was the diagnosis over the phone today?!!

    My drive only has the S/N and the following info on the sticker:

    Product of Thailand
    MDL: WD5000AAKS – 00YGA0
    DATE: 12 SEP 2007
    WWWN: 50014EE255DB8FBC

    Is there any way I could find the firmware ver from this info to replace the board? And is there a pointer on where to start looking?
    And the biggest question of all , could it fix it?

    Again thanks so much for your time…..


  8. AK 11:11, 2. September 2011, 17:02

    Thanks Pablo – i’ll try those first I’ve been told by the Data recovery folk that the Caviar Black are notoriously difficult to fix. Will it damage it further by putting under power again after cleaning the contacts? And if you could point me in the right direction for purchasing a new pcb for it – is it right that the pcb has to be within a two week manufacture of the hdd – and from the same country…….due to specific firmware tied with the hdd?

    Thanks again – PS I was quoted up to £600 from ABC recovery so we wont be looking at those pictures for a good while yet…..:-( Thanks again for your time in responding


  9. Prashant, 2. September 2011, 0:33

    Hi Pablo,
    By drive letter I meant the same only. URR detects (like /dev/sda, sda1.. , /dev/sdb..) in linux fashion only. My problem is- that it sees drives/partitions of internal hard disk, destination drive (portable 160GB) & even pen drive (that hols URR) but does not detect/see the 80GB failed drive at all which is very correctly seen by BIOS. (I also tried to see this drive through TestDisk and Photorec but they also dont see this.
    Please, I need your expert comments. Thanks a lot!

  10. Pablo Garcia, 1. September 2011, 20:56

    Hi Stephen
    Do not do it using USB… I state this on the article. USB is highly problematic with DD Rescue and it is rare when it actually works, this has been my experience. I know it is convenient but there is nothing like connecting the hard drives directly to the SATA or IDE interfaces.

  11. Pablo Garcia, 1. September 2011, 20:50

    Hi anthony:
    Save your money. Unfortunately it won’t do you any good to buy an extra hard drive for DD Rescue since the BIOS is not detecting the hard drive. IF the BIOs does not detect the hard drive, no program will. That being said there are a few things you can try. 1) unscrewing the board and cleaning the contacts. 2) Purchase a new board (However, I cannot guarantee the board is bad, so you will be doing this in the blind)

  12. Pablo Garcia, 1. September 2011, 20:39

    Hi Prashant:
    Ubuntu Rescue Remix runs on Linux, this is not Windows. Linux does not assign drive letters it is just a path. it should look something like \dev\sda.

  13. AK 11:11, 31. August 2011, 5:58

    Hi Pablo, thanks for the article!

    My drive failed the other day although still being detected in the Bios – now though my WD caviar 500g drive is now no longer being detected in the Bios there is just a blank space next to the sata port id, it seems to spin up and then stop when the boot drive kicks in, and then spin up again with repetitive noise – I wouldnt call it a click but it does sound as though its re reading data – Now when the drive is plugged in it prevents the PC from booting and just says disk error – when removed it boots fine. (Win 7) It contains over 280gig of pictures of my kids from birth – It was only last week that my wife told me to look at online back up…….which I said i’d get round to. :-( – Is there any option now apart from data recovery as I think she’ll divorce me (and i haven’t got £750 – £1000 for recovery) Gradually Despairing….Could you recommend a Data recovery team who are sympathetic to broke people? Or a good Divorce Lawyer….

    Joking aside – Its a relation breaker this and I’m devastated at my school boy error of no back up.. is it worth trying dd rescue anyway (I’d have to buy a 750g drive first) i forgot to mention on my daughters Pc its being recognised as an IDE disc but no ID and still has the disc error.

    Many thanks for your time,


  14. Prashant, 30. August 2011, 5:04

    Hi Pablo,
    My damaged 80GB Toshiba Portable Hard Drive is not visible in “My Computer” & “Device Manager” both but is being correctly detected by BIOS when connected to primary IDE port of desktop PC (which is having 320GB internal SATA hard drive with windows XP). After booting the PC with Ubuntu Rescue Remix-11.4 (thro bootable pen drive) and using commands “sudo lshw -c disk -short” or “cat /proc/partitions”, it detects drives/partitions of internal hard disk, destination drive & pen drive but does not detect/asign drive letter to this bad 80GB drive at all. What should I try now? (I have also tried after cleaning logic board’s contacts properly but same result.) Kindly guide, please, please…

    P.S.: The bad drive makes soft sound of click-click (at 1 sec interval) with normal spin till the time Ubuntu Rescue Remix boots & shell prompt appears. At this point click-click sound stops BUT spinning still appears to be normal. This means that while issuing commands click-click sound is not present but normal spinning still exists.

  15. Stephen Bunn, 29. August 2011, 5:49

    Hello Pablo,
    Need advice, everything smooth until command ‘sudo ddrescue -r 3 / dev/sdc image log’
    after enter, system response is ‘ddrescue: too many files’
    It then refers me to ‘ddrescue –help’ for more info.
    I’m trying to image data from seagate 500gb (sdc) to a 1tb (sdb) both through usb and recognized.
    Can you shed some light on a possible command fix.

  16. Pablo Garcia, 27. August 2011, 16:16

    Do you know if you hard drive is healthy? If it is experiencing any type of malfunctioning I would suggest making a raw image and then working with the content on a healthy drive because you do not know how long your hard drive is going to last. When you say that your OD does not read the drive, does it give it a drive letter at least? does it show up under “Computer” if it does then you can try using Racuva or Photorec to recover your files, provided that the hard drive is healthy.

  17. Pablo Garcia, 27. August 2011, 15:47

    Hi Noob
    You just formated your hard drive so you are not going to be able to get your data the conventional way. You have to use Photorec or Recuva to get your data back provided that your drive is in good mechanical condition. If Not you must follow this tutorial and make a raw image of the drive so you can work with the data on a good, healthy hard drive were you can use Racuva or Photorec reliably.

  18. Noob, 25. August 2011, 11:40

    Yea – so did exactly what I did NOT want to do (and what you said not to do) which is I started the sudo mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda command on my MAIN hard drive holding Windows 7 ultimate

    (not the source, or destination HD, but the main PC HD)

    I recognized it 3 seconds in and shut off the PC, now I get no boot device available. Do you have any suggestions as for which direction I should start to repair this? I’m fairly tech savvy (maybe not best typist) so just looking for a pointer or two as to where I should investigate


  19. Prashant, 25. August 2011, 4:17

    Hello Pablo, please respond, I desperately need your expert comments.
    My 80GB Toshiba portable hard drive does not show up in “My Computer” & “Device Manager” but is being detected correctly by BIOS when connected to primary IDE port of desktop PC (which is having 320GB internal SATA hard drive with windows XP). After booting the PC with Ubuntu Rescue Remix-11.4 (thro bootable pen drive) and using commands “sudo lshw -C disk -short” or “cat /proc/partitions”, it detects drives/partitions of internal hard disk & pen drive but does not detect this bad 80GB drive at all. What should I try now? Kindly help.

    P.S.: The bad drive makes soft sound of click-click (at 1 sec interval) with normal spin till the time Ubuntu Rescue Remix boots & shell prompt appears. At this point click-click sound stops BUT spinning still appears to be normal. This means that while issuing commands click-click sound is not present but normal spinning still exists.

  20. Ed, 24. August 2011, 21:34

    Hi Ed

    The rescue might be undergoing a damaged area, it might come out of it or it might not. Some times rescues can take several days. Did you place a fan on top of the Hard Drive? It seems that a little bit was recovered and then it stopped, that some times happens when there is overheating.

    Thanks for your reply Pablo,

    I have a fan on top, but its only small as I couldnt spare one out of my comp. But it is nto very warm here anyway, being winter and new zealand and living in a shed!!!
    What do you suggest? Its still running, up to 20 hours now and the digits are still the same (except ipos and opos).


  21. Pablo Garcia, 24. August 2011, 21:11

    Hi Ed

    The rescue might be undergoing a damaged area, it might come out of it or it might not. Some times rescues can take several days. Did you place a fan on top of the Hard Drive? It seems that a little bit was recovered and then it stopped, that some times happens when there is overheating.

  22. Ed, 24. August 2011, 15:47

    I did write a large post up here yesterday but seems to have disapeared.

    I was wondering if Pablo, or anyone else could help. Im running ddrescue on a 1TB hard drive. The digits are as follows:

    rescued: 0 B, errsize: 2199 GB, current rate: 0B/s
    ipos: 1375 MB, errors: 1, average rate 0 B/s
    opos: 1375 MB time from last successful read: 12h

    What stands out at me is the errsize of 2199 GB. Then the fact there doesnt seem to be any progress being made even after 12 hours. The 1 TB is (or was) almost full and Im trying to recover the majority. This will take around 11 days I think, judging from an earlier post (20hrs=70GB)????
    So I dont want to let it run if its not working

    Any advice welcome


  23. Abhi, 23. August 2011, 15:40

    Hi Pablo. Please Help Me. Some days ago suddenly my 500 GB Western Digital Sata hard disk stopped working… I got it checked from my local computer engineer and he said its MBR or Track zero has been lost. I have very important data in that disk which i want to recover. When the computer starts(Black screen starting) it shows the disk but after that it shows Disk failure. I have tried to connect it to another hard disk and making it slave but then the computer’s OS doesn’t read it but the the boot screen always read it… Can u suggest anything by which i can recover my data…

  24. Prashant, 23. August 2011, 5:45

    Hi Pablo,
    Kindly provide your valuable comments on my post dated 20 August 2011, 2:02. Please! Your help is highly appreciated. Thanks!

  25. Pablo Garcia, 21. August 2011, 22:10

    Hi Dominic:
    Yes, if your hard drive is formatted as FAT32 you can read it in both Windows and Linux with NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER. I do it all the time. it is weird that Windows cannot see the drive maybe there is something wrong with the partition. Why don’t you delete the partition, not the partition table but the partition using gparted and then create a new msdos partition, then format it as fat32? Read this article:
    It will show you what I am talking about.

  26. Dominic Speight, 20. August 2011, 20:51

    Hi Pablo,
    hoping you can help me…
    i turned on my computer a few days ago to find my external hard drive was missing from “my computer”
    its where i store everything so i was a little concerned, it was showing in the “safely remove hardware” icon but no where else. someone told me my drive was ruined.
    anyway i came across this site and decided to give it a go, i installed ubuntu and i plugged the damaged hard drive in (straight to pc, i removed the side panel) linux read it right away and i was able to get access to my files.
    so i got another drive and moved all the files over to that one, however windows cant read it as i formatted it in an only linux readable format. so after formatting again to FAT (readable by windows) i moved all files again and still not showing up in windows?
    is there a file format i can convert my hard drive to that can be read by both windows and linux?

  27. Prashant, 20. August 2011, 2:02

    Hi Pablo,
    Thanks for the useful advice. I was confident to reach that stage of recovery process but got stuck with problem:
    My 80GB Toshiba portable hard drive does not show up in “My Computer” & “Device Manager” but is being detected correctly by BIOS when connected to primary IDE port of desktop PC (which is having 320GB internal SATA hard drive with windows XP). After booting the PC with Ubuntu Rescue Remix-11.4 (thro bootable pen drive) and using commands “sudo lshw -C disk -short” or “cat /proc/partitions”, it detects drives/partitions of internal hard disk & pen drive but does not detect this bad 80GB drive at all. What should I try now? Kindly help.

    P.S.: The bad drive makes soft sound of click-click (at 1 sec interval) with normal spin till the time Ubuntu Rescue Remix boots & shell prompt appears. At this point click-click sound stops BUT spinning still appears to be normal. This means that while issuing commands click-click sound is not present but normal spinning still exists.

  28. Pablo Garcia, 12. August 2011, 8:55

    Hi Prasant.
    No, you cannot use any of those partitions for recovery. unless you can manage to format that partition to ext3 or ext4 which is the filesystem that Linux and therefore Ubuntu Rescue Remix uses.

  29. Prashant, 12. August 2011, 4:41

    Hi Pablo,
    May I please draw your attention to my comment posted here on 8. August 2011, 6:56. Kindly do reply. I am eagerly waiting for it. Thanks!

  30. Pablo Garcia, 10. August 2011, 19:27

    Hi Lester:
    The second hard drive needs to be slightly bigger because it makes a exact raw copy of the first hard drive so you need the exact same space plus a little more for the log file.

  31. Lester, 10. August 2011, 14:08

    Hi Pablo. I have a 2TB damaged hard drive (NTFS). Only 1.2TB is occupied. I have two more 2TB empty hard drives, so I want to try your guide. Just a couple of questions: when you say: “slightly bigger” for the second drive, its only for the logs or I need an HD with more than 2TB? (Or perhaps a different file system?). And, how much time could this take? Thanks.

  32. Pablo Garcia, 8. August 2011, 8:32

    Hi Kevin, it all depends on how corrupt the data is after recovery and if the partition can be recovered in good condition. There are different issues affecting a hard drive and many different results. You can get all your data and partition intact or you can just get your data or you might not get anything at all.

  33. Prashant, 8. August 2011, 6:56

    Please help. I want to recover data from a damaged 80GB external hard drive by using the method given in this article. My PC’s single hard drive has 4 partitions (third & fourth are larger than 80GB). Can I use one of these as destination drive? Shall it not destroy/overwrite data of other 3 partitions? Kindly respond. Thanks in advance.

  34. Kevin, 8. August 2011, 3:02

    I just dropped my laptop and now it won’t boot up windows vista. It is making the “clicky noise of death.” Will I be able to still use my copy of windows vista from a recovered drive or will I be up a creek on this?

  35. Alex Harper, 27. July 2011, 1:08

    This worked so amazingly I save 25gb of Photos (over 50,000 files) its a must use and a kind soul had given it up for free!

    Well I cant explain why the hardrive wouldnt show using lsdk but it did show the partition when I used the cat/ commands. I had to stop the process after about 20 hours due to a time restriction I was on. The program had only managed to succeded in recovering about 70gb of a 320gb drive in the alloted amount of time. average transfer speed (1000kbps). I followed these instructions on how to restore the image to a new and working drive with out any problems. I then externally (USB 3) docked the restored HDD but the drive was not recognized by the PC (drive manager just said un-partitoned space) I then followed the repair partition instructions at the bottom of this article. The software managed to recover the size correctly (320gb NTFS) however windows still said that the drive needed to be formatted before use. So I then used an amazing piece of software called (Kernal Data Recovery $50) which took less than 10 minutes to scan the drive and found over 50,000 files. I then used it to recover them with amazing success only maybe 100 out of those 50,000 were corrupted. I saved over 25gb of photos (which my client had not backed up, silly silly silly person) So I am sooo amazed at how well ddrescue recovered and restored the files which allowed my other program to recover them. It turned out that the drive didnt have much more than 50gb on it anyway so it was a full and succesful recovery. And may I add that the drive I was recovering from was so badly damaged that when I docked it externaly the computer wouldn’t even recognize a device!

  36. Pablo Garcia, 26. July 2011, 9:45

    Your hard drive is probably about to die, did you read the information in this article? All the information you need to know is there, all you need to do is read.

  37. Pablo Garcia, 26. July 2011, 9:39

    Are you sure that backup hard drive is in good condition? it could be damaged as well.

    cat /proc/partitions

    and see if you can see it that way. If you do not, test the hard drive to see if there’s anything wrong with it..

  38. Pablo Garcia, 26. July 2011, 9:21

    Hi Alex
    Thanks for your comment, I corrected the article. Its actually supposed to be “mnt” which stands for “mount” not nmt.

  39. Alex Harper, 23. July 2011, 18:54

    Never mind when I edited this command
    sudo mkdir nmt
    sudo mount /dev/sda mnt
    cd mnt
    cd recovery


    sudo mkdir nmt
    sudo mount /dev/sda nmt
    cd nmt
    cd recovery

    it worked.

  40. Alex Harper, 23. July 2011, 18:44

    When trying to unmount my drive it got the error something along the lines of cant stop this device…. i rebooted and now the thing wont mount my drive which contains the backed up img…. sudo lshw -C disk -short does not show sda but cat shows two drives, What now?

  41. maitai, 21. July 2011, 18:10

    hi i need your help please :)
    all of my music is stored on a toshiba portable hard drive. when plugged in it usually gives the msg to format the drive , which of course i ignore cuz i didnt want to loose all my music, however recently the drive has been making slight “funny noises” so i decided to try backup the drive BUT THE FILES CAN NOT BE COPIED?! after hours of trying to copy across the system would either freeze or give me an error msg, and NO FILES ARE BEING COPIED..why is this and how do i get my music files onto my new hard drive?! PLEASE ADVISE ME

  42. Shibu, 18. July 2011, 7:26

    I am shibu, My 320 GB Seagate hardrive makes the clicking noise and doesn’t actually stay powered on for more than 10 seconds. But i badly need the data in it. So after turns on, the light would glow on, i can feel the disk spinning with the clicking sound, soon after few seconds everything stops.

    Could someone please tell me what inside the hardrive must be replaced. Please i seek the help of all the bloggers who knows what exactly can be done in this case to recover the data.

    PLEASE HELP…!!!!!

  43. Pablo Garcia, 15. July 2011, 8:40

    Hi Kristal
    Data Recovery programs don’t change thousands of dollar for nothing. It is hard to diagnose a drive inside an enclosure, you need to take the hard drive out of the enclosure to rule out and enclosure program. You need to connect the true hard drive to the motherboards IDE or SATA cables (depending on what interface it uses), then, if it gets detected by the computer’s BIOS you go from there. If it does not you have very few options left, other than maybe replacing the board underneath (if that happens to be the problem) or cleaning the contacts, but you need to take the hard drive out of the enclosure and you need to read If you want to solve your problem. If you do not have time, then you need to send it to a data recovery company.

  44. Pablo Garcia, 15. July 2011, 8:24

    Hi Chuck:
    Unfortunately “0 bytes rescued” means exactly what it says. Usually what you start getting the raw image and you do not get any data rescued since the beginning, it probably not going to recover anything. Make sure you have the source and destination drives right, that is extremely important. Also make sure you connect the drives directly to the SATA or IDE cables on the motherboard and not using USB. USB sometimes work and sometimes does not.

  45. Pablo Garcia, 15. July 2011, 8:13

    Hi “Need Help”
    There are many things you can do on your own. You need to start by taking the hard drive out of the enclosure to rule out a problem with the enclosure, then you go from there. You have a lot to read.

  46. Harish, 14. July 2011, 15:06

    Hi Pablo,
    I have 320Gb Fujitsu laptop HDD, it is neither detected in WINDOWS not in BIOS and makes clicking noise. I tried connected it to my desktop, still the same, not detected. I also tried using data recovery softwares like “iCare”, “Mini tool power data recovery”, these sofwares not able to detect the HDD. I have important information in that HDD, please help/guide me how would I succeed to get the data back from HDD.
    Thanks a ton!

  47. Chuck Brown, 12. July 2011, 23:47

    Typo “prompt” response…lol

  48. Chuck Brown, 12. July 2011, 23:01

    Hi Pablo,
    First of all thanks for giving me a glimmer of hope for recovering my oh so important files. Here’s my issue(s):
    I didn’t have a large enough destination drive initially, it ran out if space (1 TB) but seemed to be recovering fine. When I purchased the 2 TB drive the process is going, however, I notice everything moving but the rescued slot. It reads 0B. Does this mean that nothing is being rescued or should I just wait? I just wanna know if it’s progressing as it should and if not how can I remedy it. Thanks a lot for your proof response.

  49. Need Help :), 12. July 2011, 20:55

    Hwy guys! So I bought a new laptop and I had an external Western Digital Portable 500GB hard drive which i dropped maybe once or twice before and my desktop wouldn’t read it anymore even though the light blinks when I plug in the USB and so I thought Ihd give it another try (its been like 2 years) and still my laptop (Windows 7) doesn’t recognize it.

    Do I need to send it somewhere for them to recover it for me? And if so, where do I send the hard drive?

    I live in New York City, United States.

  50. Krystal, 12. July 2011, 14:14

    I have a Western Digital 2T External Hard Drive. I had it for 6 weeks and it failed…..just after I put a TON of pictures (among other things I didn’t want to lose)!! My computer does not regonize the hardrive. The power light comes on and you can feel it running, but the computer does not recognize it. I haven’t had time to read all the previous questions/answers. Any help would be appreciated. There are irreplaceable photos on this drive. Thanks!!

  51. Abdul M. Khan, 9. July 2011, 3:15

    A good ready mate tips have you that can help each and another.
    that is good.

  52. Pablo Garcia, 6. July 2011, 21:20

    Hi Nikos
    IOPS Mean Input position, OPOS mean Output position. That is just to tell you where ddrescue is in the recovery process. I have interrupted processes that have been frozen at the end and I have been able to still see the filesystem with no problems, I do not guarantee that you are going to have the same result. But if you can’t, you can still get your files with other tools like photorec.

  53. Nikos, 6. July 2011, 16:35

    First off, thanks alot for this great info!
    I am trying to rescue my 250gb Seagate drive.

    so far I am at the following point:
    Initial Status
    rescued: 0 B, errsize : 0 B, errors: 0
    Current Status:
    rescued: 250059 MB, errsize: 186 kB, current rate: 0 B/s
    ipos: 248355 MB, errors: 48, average rate: 19686 kB/s
    opos: 248355 MB, time from last successful read: 7 m
    Splitting failed blocks…

    My questions are:
    – What does ipos or opos mean?
    – If I interrupt with ctrl-C now or at some point before its done, will the image be almost complete with the 250059mb rescued so far, or will it not be useable at all yet before the full process of splitting failed blocks is completed?


  54. Pablo Garcia, 4. July 2011, 14:21

    Hi Tarun:
    You are not giving much details. Is your hard drive making any sounds? Is this an internal, external drive. If it is external have you tries another enclosure? You say that your hard drive is not being detected, by what? By Windows? or by the BIOS? If the hard drive is not being detected by the BIOS, there is not much that can be done at this point. You can try cleaning the contacts underneath the board with an eraser, or replacing the board all together. However if the hard drive is making clicking noises most likely the board is not the issue. You need to do some reading and some troubleshooting.

  55. Tarun, 4. July 2011, 12:50

    hello iam tarun,
    My 80 GB hard disk is not detacted. i have to save my data like pictures. what can i do to save my data in a pen drive or other hard disk.
    pls pls pls help me.
    my email id is tarunkumar92115
    pls help me.

  56. Pablo Garcia, 2. July 2011, 17:30

    If you keep on reading the article, on the first paragraph under “The Setup” I wrote “or even to USB drives, but they can be harder for Ubuntu Rescue Remix to detect”. You can connect the hard drive using USB however I do not like to advise people to do this since most of the time they are either not detected or are problematic during the recovery. Remember, your hard drive is dying and you need to recover your data as soon as possible. Every time you try to recover your data your are putting more stress on your drive and eventually it won’t work anymore. It is best if you do it in one shot and the most reliable method is connecting it directly to the motherboard.

  57. Javier, 2. July 2011, 12:29

    My hard disk with 1TB of documents died hours ago. Now Windows XP detects it without problem, and even I can copy some data, after one minut is making strange noise and not working anymore. Now is in the frozen with one thousand plastic bags. I am waiting 24 hours and lets see… The thing is you said is not possible with USB. My hard disk is an external disk that works with USB 2.0. Cannot work with USB!?

  58. Pablo Garcia, 2. July 2011, 10:06

    You can access it for a little while and then it stops? you might want to keep it as cool as possible them. Try using a big heatsink and a fan. You can also try the freezer method (But only as a last resort).

  59. Gordon, 2. July 2011, 3:56

    I haven’t cleaned the contacts but I ended up switching the board. The hard drive would run longer than before though. From about 15 seconds to about 30-40 seconds. I don’t know how much of a difference that makes. Perhaps I could try Ubuntu again, with the new board switch.
    Thanks, Pablo!

  60. Pablo Garcia, 1. July 2011, 12:27

    Have you tried removing the board and cleaning the contacts? If the hard drive is totally dead then it could be the board, however, If this occurred right after the hard drive was dropped then I doubt that the board is the cause, unless it suffered damage when it fell.

  61. Gordon, 30. June 2011, 7:20


    I have a hard drive that was dropped. The hard drive is detected in bios, which should be good. When I run remix rescue and try to detect the hard drive, it’s not there and it’s not powered on. Would replacing the board might make it run although it’s already detected in bios?

  62. Pablo Garcia, 27. June 2011, 15:43

    Hi Josh

    A 500GB is huge for DDrescue, it will take a loooong time specially is it has damaged areas. DDrescue creates a log file as it is recording the raw image, that log file tells DDrescue where to start in case the process is interrupted. What you can do is interrupt the process (do it properly, do not unplug the hard drive or turn the computer off in the middle of the operation) You can resume the process later and DDrescue will pickup where it left off.

    All you have to do is connect the drives the exact same way you had them, making sure they get assigned the same paths. If they don’t you can always modify the command, just make sure which one is which or your can overwrite the data on your damaged hard drive.

    Mount the directory you were using to recover the data and issue the same command you used to start the process using the same filename and log file name. Be careful not to format the drive drive again or you are going to loose all data you gathered until now.

    If you have any questions before resuming the process let me know.

    Now, by what you are telling me you seem to have recovered 496GB already, that is almost all your data. Now remember you have to use another hard drive to extract the raw image. Ive had cases like yours where the process stopped at the end, I’ve connected the third drive and I’ve been able to see my data just fine. If you can’t see yours, you can always use a program like Photorec to recover the files.

  63. Josh, 27. June 2011, 14:02

    Good day Mr. Garcia,
    First of, thank you very much for your useful information and precise instructions. I’m certainly not “tech savvy” and you’ve made this article very comprehensible.

    I’m attempting to rescue data from my 500GB Seagate hdd connected to the mother-board as recommended.
    The program is currently making the image for approx. 2.5 days and seems to be stuck at:

    rescued: 496630 MB,…..errsize: 3476 MB,…..current rate: 0 B/s
    ipos: 663783 kB,…..errors: 352,…..average rate: 6015 kB/s
    opos: 663783 kB,…..time from last sucessful read: 4h.

    I understand that the length of time varies according to each broken hdd but I need to resume work in the next two days so I’ll require my pc.

    Is there anyway to stop the extraction of the recovery image, cut my losses on the un-rescued data and proceed to the “recovering the raw image” process? I’m quite content getting back whatever is rescued.

    I look forward for your reply and welcome other recommendations. In the meantime I’ll leave the program running as long as possible.
    Thank you in advance.

  64. Pablo Garcia, 23. June 2011, 12:44

    Hi Jerri:
    You do not have to start the whole process all over again, you already created the directory; just use the same directory you previously created. Skip the mkdir command and go to the next command.

  65. jerry, 23. June 2011, 10:06

    Hi i’m having a small issue. When I tried unmounting my image drive I kept receiving a busy statement. After many failed attempts I turned off the computer and swapped out the original sourse drive for the new drive. Now when I try to iSsue the sudo mkdir nmt I receive a responce of mkdir: cannot create directory ‘nmt’ : file exists.

    – realize I should have asked for advise at the last step. But hope u can suggest what to do next other then start the entire process from the beginning. Thanx in advance Jerry

  66. Pablo Garcia, 22. June 2011, 21:16

    Hi Gideon:
    If you can create a partition on your laptop that is bigger than the total size (not just the content size) of the hard drive, then you can extract it to that partition. The partition would have to be formatted in a file system that Linux can mount, Fat32 won’t work because of size limitations. You probably need to format it using EXT2, 3 or 4. Then you need another empty hard drive of equal or bigger size than the original to extract your data to.

  67. Gideon, 22. June 2011, 8:58


    I accidentally dropped my 500GB Seagate External HD onto carpet floor from about 40cm high only. but then it started beeping and it is not correctly read. So I would like to try DDrescue. but one question, why 3 drives are needed? can’t I just extract the raw image into an empty partition of my laptop harddrive and recover it from there? and most importanty, is this raw image “.iso” format?


  68. Pablo Garcia, 18. June 2011, 20:19

    Hi Nisai:
    That is why in the article i state: *** Make sure not to confuse your source and destination drives, or you might end-up overwriting all your data*** its even in bold letters. If you just executed the command you just stated, then you just formatted the drive and most of your data should still be there. Use Photorec to get it back. If the hard drive is damaged then before using photorec recover the data “as is” using DDrescue (and this time please read before executing the command on the article), then use photorec. For instructions on Photorec, follow this article:

  69. Pablo Garcia, 18. June 2011, 20:14

    Hi Benny:
    DDrescue recovers data in “raw” format. It does not know or understand what it is recovering, it just copies whatever it sees, this is precisely why it is compatible with any filesystem. DDrescue cannot recover parts of a disk. It can do a partial recovery but it does not know what files are included on that partial recovery. You need two more hard drives slightly bigger than the original, because DDrescue copies the data as well as the log file.

  70. Nisai, 17. June 2011, 1:48

    During the process, I typed exactly what is in the text:
    sudo mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda
    I found out later that sda is my office working drive not the intended destination drive. :(
    Have you gone thru such an experience? Any effective software recovery tool to recover data from this formated sda drive? I am in a big trouble here. please help name a program. :(

  71. Benny, 15. June 2011, 10:08

    Hello Pablo,

    Thanks for this page; it is very useful.

    I have a 500GB Seagate hard disk which suddenly got damaged. Windows started freezing. When I realized the hard disk is dying, I tried copying folders using the disk as a slave. Initially it was ok; I could copy most of the contents from folders except for a file every now and then for which I used to get errors. Later, it became worse, whenever I tried to access the drive it used to take very long. Later it was not getting detected in Windows; but was getting detected in BIOS. Now, I’m unable to copy anything.

    I bought another hard disk 1TB WD into which I copied whatever I could recover. I installed Windows XP in that hard disk and using it currently. I would like to use DDrescue and recover data from the damaged disk – especially from 1 particular folder where I have photos and videos. I don’t mind loosing everything else. I have a 120GB spare disk. Can I use that disk for recovering only the photos folder – which is around 50GB or the partition where I had this folder – which was 100GB ? Or do I need a hard disk which is bigger than 500GB (damaged disk was 500GB)? In other words can I use DDrescue to recover only one partition instead of the complete hard disk?


  72. Pablo Garcia, 14. June 2011, 17:53

    Hi Elena:
    Yes, if your drive is just corrupted and it does not suffer from any phisical or mechanical damage. USB will work perfectly well. All you have to do is remove the drive use an external enclosure or an IDE to USB cable, then depending on the state of the partition table you will either be able to see your files or will need a program like Photorec to recover the files.

  73. Elena, 14. June 2011, 0:56

    Hi, I only have a laptop (Mac). The drive that is corrupted is an external Western Digital hard drive. How do I connect it to my laptop for this software to work? USB would not work, correct? Thanks in advance.

  74. Roro, 13. June 2011, 3:53

    My hard drive crashed when I was updating the operating system on a G5. The hard drive now has the clicking sound. I’m almost positive the software didn’t fully download. Is there anything I should be particular about as I try to recover the data?

  75. christina, 9. June 2011, 18:35

    Hi, I’m wondering if anyone can give me some advice before I pay $$$$ to figure out my external hard drive issue.

    I have an Iomega external hard drive that my boyfriend unfortunately dropped. His Macbook recognized it and we copied most of the files over, but my PC laptop would not recognize it at all. At times it would start beeping, which meant that there wasn’t enough power to read the hard drive. Now there is no power at all, no computer will recognize it and the light doesn’t even turn on anymore.

    Is this a motor failure? Do you think the data is still recoverable? Thank you!!

  76. Pablo Garcia, 6. June 2011, 22:46

    DDrescue is fine, the third hard drive must be empty or with contents that you do not care about. (Any format type is fine, since anything on the drive will be erased)

  77. IT Dude, 6. June 2011, 9:09

    When doing Restore.

    Do you recommend using foremost.
    or should ddrescue be just fine

    Also do you have to format the 3rd drive to any specific format?
    or just fallow the exact instructions.
    Thank you

  78. Pablo Garcia, 5. June 2011, 20:34

    Hi Dimitris

    Its been already 3 days and you have not gotten anything out of the hard drive, I doubt that at this point you could get anything at all. But it is up to you, if you are not in a hurry and want to leave it a little longer, go ahead.

  79. Dimitris, 4. June 2011, 7:06

    Also i pressed ctr+c and stop the procedure giving me the below message
    rescued 0B errzise 500GB current rate 0B/S
    ippos 316992MB errors 1 rate 0B/S
    oppos 316992MB time from last succesful read 3.6 days

    do you think is there any need to continue

  80. Dimitris, 3. June 2011, 20:29

    I am 4 days now trying to make the raw image from the bad hdd to a good one
    i keep getting the message:
    [277365. 876536] end.request: i/o error, dev sda, sector 398.847.672
    numbers are random and every 15 – 20 of the above messages i get something else which i can’t seem to be able to read it cause of the spped
    It’s a 500gb hdd how many sectors yet? the 398….number hasa already reached 999.999 and starts again

    is there a way to see the log file , or to pause it?

    Thank you
    right now i can’t undersatnd if it saves somthing or not

  81. Pablo Garcia, 24. May 2011, 23:46

    Hi Kovie
    When you plug the drive via the SATA cable does it get disconnected every once in a while like it used to when you had it connected by USB? if it does then there might be something wrong with the HD circuit board, if it does not, then your enclosure could be bad and you probably have a corrupted partition as a result of the hard drive connecting and disconnecting while being used. Try using Photorec to recover your files to another drive. If photorec starts recovering files you know that you have a corrupt partition. You can also try to fix the partition, so you do not have to spend too much time recovering files.

  82. Pablo Garcia, 24. May 2011, 23:31


    Have you tried Photorec?

    How to Recover Erased Data Using Free Software

  83. Pablo Garcia, 24. May 2011, 23:21

    Hi Richard:
    Retrace your steps and read the article carefully. Are you sure your destination drive is /dev/sdb? are you sure your hard drive is being seen by the BIOS? Are you connecting the hard drive via SATA or IDE? instead of USB?

  84. Pablo Garcia, 24. May 2011, 19:35

    Just use common sense, If hours have passed and you are not getting any data back, chances are your data is not recoverable, at least not with URR. And if you can’t rescue it with URR it is highly unlikely you will be able to do it with any other software.

  85. Richard, 18. May 2011, 11:50

    I have tried sudo ddrescue -r 3 /dev/sdb image log, but i keep getting sudo: not found. Please advice.

  86. Sam, 15. May 2011, 5:09

    ahh help, lent my 2tb WD external HDD to bother-in-law (only a month old) not sure what has happened all i know is that on my compaq (running vista) its not visible in my computer but is visible in the disk manager but wont initialize, just comes up with error, and on an old school hp (running xp) is not visible in the disk manager list. for both laptops properties says that the disk is installed and working. i have also connected it through a ide/sata adaptor cord with same result. has about 800gb all my life saved to it. how can i get this data back or get the HDD to work.

  87. Kovie, 14. May 2011, 18:56

    Hello Mr. Garcia!

    I recently bought a WD My Book Essential 3.0 2 TB External Hard Drive to back up my 500gb ps3, I did this successfully (this tuck my 2days as the hardrive in my ps3 had 450gb worth of data on it) , but I converted my 2TB HDD to FAT32 as this is the only file system the ps3 recognises.
    A week later I transferred a film onto my 2TB HDD and plugged it into my p.c and watched the film via the HDD, half way through the film I paused it and went to get a drink. I then heard a noise which was the sound a p.c makes when you disconnect something connected via usb, so I went back to p.c to investigate.
    I then found that the hardrive disconnected itself (Which ment the film stopped). I tried to unplug the usb and then reconnect the drive, the p.c made the usual sound when something’s connected and the drive powered up. I then went to my computer but nothing was there.
    I then went to Disk Management but there was nothing there also (just the internal p.c drive).
    I then powered down the p.c for 5mins the tried re-booting the system the drive makes the normal power on noise for a while then goes quiet as if it is reading something.
    I then left the p.c running and went away. When I did this every 45mins the 2TB HDD kept on disconnecting and then reconnecting itself my all the while not showing up in my computer.
    I powered down my p.c then tuck the actual HDD out of the external enclosure and connected it straight to the board via sata cable and switched the p.c back on, I had a message to say 2TB HDD has been inserted (well 1.8something as computers read display drive sizes differently) and press f1 to save changes (so this means the computer does detect all of the drive) but when fully booted up still nothing in my computer or disk management.

    I don’t know what to do next as it is imperative I get my back from the drive as I now need to restore my ps3.
    Can you please help me?????????????

  88. Eugene, 12. May 2011, 23:28

    I am trying ubuntu Rescue Remix for the first time. I have follow all the step up to start extracting data off bad drive. I have the following status

    rescued: 0 B, errsize: 0 B, errors: 0
    Current Status:
    rescued: 0 B, errsize: 320 GB, current rate 0 B/s
    ipos: 100000 MB errors: 1 current rate 0 B/s
    opos 100000 MB time from last successful read: 24.7 h
    Splitting failed blocks…

    I need to know if I am during the right things and how long will it stay in this status. The ipos/opos is counting up

  89. arif, 11. May 2011, 12:26

    my hd drive stucked while working normally and now whenever i start pc a noise eppears from hddrive and PC did not start showing error in DOS mode
    i tried by coupling this drive with another one so tht i could recover my data but while i connect this faulty hd drive PC stop working and hanged at that stage pls suggest me some tips so that i can precover my data.

  90. Jon, 20. April 2011, 23:24

    guys, I had a portable external usb hard drive go doa after less than a year of light use doing just backups as my main c drive was getting crowded…..I was able to purchase the same drive as a parts donor. I had power but no throughput, computer would not recognize the drive. without too much trouble I was able to remove the drive from the enclosure and removed the power adapter pc board from the back of the drive and install the new one from the same drive. (this was a smaller board not the large board on the bottom of the drive) I was lucky it booted right up and my computer recognized it. I also read about external enclosures you can stack or hot swap drives in and out of that eliminate the usb adapter on the back of the hard drive. I am now burning data dvd to archive the data. Part of the problem is that all the drives if you leave them on are always running in that not only is the platter or disc spinning but the read write arm is jumping around indexing stuff, or digitally fingerprinting your pc courtesy of national security. Years ago before all this paranoia and terroism turned every computer into a personal key logger for intelligence agencies, computer hardware would last a long time in that it only ran when you were running a process. If you have accessory drives either internal or external that are not critical to the operation of what ever programs you want to run, shut them off. With external drives, just flip the power switch off, with internal drives this may require a more sophisticated power switching arrangement, however at the rate these drives are failing it needs to be done unless you want to have your data go missing.

  91. Pablo Garcia, 19. April 2011, 7:40

    The board might be damaged. Try to get an identical hard drive and swap the boards. Read up on this before you buy, because not only the hard drive’s model has to match, but also the version of the board, the serial number (not the same of course bot close), etc, etc, etc. You can find used hard drives on Ebay. Also, remove the board and clean the bottom contacts with a pencil eraser. Sometimes when boards get overheated the waxy coating that these boards have melts and covers the contacts.

  92. A.B.E. Santosh, 19. April 2011, 6:15

    Hi Gracia,
    Due to voltage problems, my laptop hard disk got damaged and the BIOS shows No Hard Drive. I got anew hard rive replaced and want to recover data. Tried connecting to various computers via SATA connector but not getting detected. Seems that no power is going to the hard disk as no vibration can be felt.
    What can be done??? Thanks in advance.

    A.B.E. Santosh

  93. Pablo Garcia, 15. April 2011, 23:42

    Hi Joy

    Use Photorec. See if that works for you. Read this article:

    It will show you how to use it.

  94. Pablo Garcia, 15. April 2011, 23:39

    If the hard drive sounds normal, then there might be some hope. Read the article, and see if the “lshw” command sees the drive. If it does, then the chances are better :)

  95. lostpix, 15. April 2011, 21:39

    Hello Mr. Garcia –

    Thank you so much for you article.

    I dropped my laptop holding it vertically in one hand at my side from about 1-2 ft. The computer is working perfectly (installed a new hd), but the original hard disk is messed up.

    When I tried booting from it, the screen would go black and in the upper left hand corner, it’d say “Disk read error. Press ctrl-alt-del for Rrecovery”. When I do that, it just repeats the cycle. The BIOS recognizes the drive and its correct capacity, but not much else.

    Is there any hope? What are the chances for recovery? I had heard load noises when it tried reading, now I
    don’t even hear those sounds anymore (though it does make the normal hard drive reading sounds).

    Thank you!

  96. Joy, 14. April 2011, 2:46

    I have a 1TB (931GB) toshiba external hard drive that is almost full of data. Recently i tried connecting it to my laptop but the windows could not access it. it kept on asking me to format the drive before i can use it. i have tried several times without being able to use it. when i check for the properties of the drive, it shows 0 bytes used space and 0 bytes free space. the device manager however shows 931 GB total space and 100% free space. the name i named the drive with is also not showing; it is just recognized as a local drive. i don’t think the drive is damaged, please what is the easiest way i can recover my data and still be able to use the drive again.

  97. Pablo Garcia, 13. April 2011, 20:14

    Not good, it has to show the right amount of gigabytes. If your BIOS does not see them your software won’t see them either.

  98. allen, 13. April 2011, 15:06

    My hdd show up in bios but it only show 0 mb and no other information. Should I assume that Bios really does not see the hard drive or is this ok?

  99. Pablo Garcia, 13. April 2011, 10:10

    If device manager can see the drive, that is a good sign. Yes you can try raw imaging. Just make sure you follow the read everything carefully and do not confuse the drives. You can also try to recover the files directly with photorec. I prefer imaging because your hard drive is about to die, and with raw imaging you can extract your files comfortably later on a healthy hard drive rather than having the fear of having to go back and forth because you forgot something on the bad hard drive. Every time you turn the hard drive off is another chance for it not to wake up ever again since turning it on an off put extra stress on it. this way you have absolutely everything out of the drive already.

  100. krikri, 13. April 2011, 8:56

    my hard drive Western digital makes a sound like zzzzz zzzzz zzzzz zzzzz when i connect it via usb. In windows i dont see it but sometimes in the device manager i can see it but is not initialised. Afther the zzzz zzzz zzzz sound the hd is quiet. If i disconnect and reconnect same thing. All my important data is on it. should I try to make a raw image as well

  101. Goran, 12. April 2011, 9:32

    Ok, thanks.

  102. Pablo Garcia, 12. April 2011, 8:42

    Hi Goran:
    You can use the laptop itself, however it is best that the hard drive is installed in the laptop rather than making the hard drive an external hard drive an connecting it by usb. You can use the 3.5″ to 2.5″ connector on a regular pc as well, the connector makes no difference in the data recovery.

  103. Goran, 12. April 2011, 6:30

    Hello, what if i have 2.5″ laptop hard drive that i have to rescue data from?
    Do i have to use laptop for that or on pc with 2.5 to 3.5 connector?

  104. Nick, 4. April 2011, 11:42

    “I usually flip them upside down so that gravity helps a little if the arms are too close to the plates,”

    OMG, this actually caused my Toshiba (Hitachi) drive to be readable again! Thanks!

  105. Pablo Garcia, 31. March 2011, 11:53

    Hi Walter, I think 35 days (and 0 data recovered) is a little too much. I do not think I’ve gone for more than two weeks. Regarding your other comment. See if your drive gets detected by th BIOS, if it does, try the CAT command (read my article); LSHW is sometimes unreliable.

  106. bikefridaywalter, 31. March 2011, 3:32

    while i’m at it, when i’m done with this one, i have another disk to mess with. i actually tried to do it first but couldn’t find it anywhere a la lshw or /cat/partitions. it’s from a LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini (i pulled it out of the enclosure). it’s a Hitachi DeskStar HDT725050VLAT80, part of the T7K500 series. any ideas on how i can find it?

  107. bikefridaywalter, 31. March 2011, 3:06

    so i think i’m stuck. i’m onto 35 days now since the last successful read. the output seems to suggest i’ve had nothing rescued, either. hasn’t read much, either. last opos was 534964 kB of 20026 MB. it is slowly ticking away though on the ipos/opos. it is doing something. might just be grinding away ultimately producing nothing. it suggests there’s only one error, though. thought this would be easy breezy. suggestions?

  108. Wayne, 29. March 2011, 1:59

    Yeah i think its a goner. I may just have to start backing up once a week
    Then you will be like what ever go ahead and die drive. I wont care i have a good back up just yesterday. Thanks for the site and the help to try and get the drive going. Good luck to you all.

  109. Pablo Garcia, 28. March 2011, 17:37

    Has it recovered any data at all? If it has not, it is hard to tell yet. Sometimes the errors come from incompatibilities with the USB connection. From experience I found that it is best to connect the hard drive directly to the IDE or SATA cables of a desktop computer.

  110. Wayne, 28. March 2011, 10:06

    So do i have any chance? ITs been spiting out i/o errors since the start of the recovery command.. Thoughts on this issue. Thanks

  111. Pablo Garcia, 27. March 2011, 17:13

    HI Lita:
    The only reason for the process to run out of space is 1) you are choosing the wrong destination drive 2) your destination drive is not big enough. remember that he destination has to be a little bigger than the source because it also needs space for the log file that ddrescue creates. What you can do is run the lshw command and then unplug one of the drives and run it again, this will you will know which one is which. BTW, I don’t do websites, I have enough work with this one already :)

  112. Lita, 27. March 2011, 13:29

    Thank you, Pablo. 1) Believe it or not, I DID check to see that I used the correct destination drive and source drive–that time around. (I’ll explain what this means in #2). I used the command you gave: sudo lshw -C disk -short to identify the drives. I will buy another HDD in about a week and start over with the procedure.

    2) This one I’m embarrassed to admit because of your excessive warnings. The 1st time around, I did point to the correct destination drive as well. The reason I know this is because I plugged that New HDD into another laptop and I can see the recovery file, the image, and the log. However, I PICKED THE WRONG SOURCE DRIVE. Honestly, I could not tell them apart for they both claimed to have 80 MB w/letters written behind each of them. But when I began the recovery process I can see it was collecting information from my computer’s HD instead of my damaged external HDD. Good news is I had already backed up all the important files from this computer. It is my spare computer because the monitor is slightly damaged (1-in white line vertically down the screen), but inside it was fine. Therefore, I didn’t lose anything important. However, I tried to load the recovery CD and all I get was: “Error loading operating system”. It would not boot from its recovery DVD. (Yes, I have the “L” on my forehead)

    3) There was a behavior that I am worried about that happened in the process of following your instructions. While I was creating a Linux partition, I did it on the New HDD drive and it went really fast. However, when I ran the command: cat /proc/partitions—it showed me that ALL 3 drives had a partition in it. I wondered if somehow I ran it on all three, or if they were already there.

    4) My set up is a) Computer: HP Pavilion zd8000 Laptop w/extended memory (now it’s blank, of course); b) Damaged External HD: Maxtor Personal Storage 3100; and c)New HDD: Toshiba Desk Top external HD 1TB.

    5) I see you do websites. I’ve never finished mine. Let’s talk.

  113. Pablo Garcia, 27. March 2011, 12:05

    HI Lita:
    1) Seems to me that you did not select the correct “destination” drive. you have to be extremely careful when doing this (I cannot stress this enough!) otherwise you might end-up overwriting your data.
    2) I do not now exactly what your setup is, you need two empty hard drives larger than the one you are extracting the data from. One to extract the raw image (which is not readable) and the other hard drive is for extracting the raw image. Therefore making an exact copy of your broken hard drive.

  114. Pablo Garcia, 27. March 2011, 11:50

    Hi Mike:
    Depends, if hard drive was formated and then data was written on it, then you will NOT be able to recover data on the sectors of the hard drive that were overwritten, only on the ones that were not. IF the hard drive was just formatted several times without writing any data on it, you should be able to get a lot of the data back. I would use Photorec, not DDrescue. DDrescue is not for this purpose.

    Read this article:

    It will show you how to use Photorec.

  115. Lita, 27. March 2011, 6:48

    1) ddrescue was going perfectly, it seemed, as it was transfering my damaged HDD files to my new external HD. However, in the process it stopped and says this: “ddrescue: write error: No space left on device”. I SHOULD have plenty of space on new HDD, it’s 1T, my damaged HDD was only 80 MB. What do I do now?
    2)Just so you know, I’m using a laptop for this transfer; I plan to follow the advice you gave Lisa. However, I would really rather keep the files on my new HDD, as opposed to transferring the data onto my laptop. Please advise.

  116. Mike, 27. March 2011, 3:16

    hii. Is it Possible to recover data once or twice hard drive is formatted.ddrescue will do to solve the problem? Is it useful to portable hard drive as well. What should i do?

  117. debraj kandel, 26. March 2011, 23:15

    hi thanks for this suggestion
    my hard drive can not be detecting the system, but bios is showing my drive .
    and i tried that source and destination system, but that also fail to save my data Please tale me what can i do at this time ……….

  118. Pablo Garcia, 26. March 2011, 22:31

    Rename the extension from txt to jpg, and see if they open. for example if the name of the files is 1231232.txt rename it to 1231232.jpg

  119. Kathy, 26. March 2011, 11:07


    Ok so I did try your suggestion and used Photorec. It quickly recovered a bunch of files from my drive. Problem is it saved all my jpeg firles in text format. And now the drive is no longer recognized so I can’t run any more recovery programs on it. Im not sure why this is, the port is recognized, and the device details identify the Toshiba hard disk is connected to it. The Drive is also spinning. Is there a way I can convert all these text files into picture files? I am sooo sad they were pictures of all my baby’s firsts.

  120. Pablo Garcia, 23. March 2011, 20:37

    Hi Steve:
    All I can tell you is to be patient. Like I said it depends on how damaged the hard drive is. Good thing about dd rescue is that you can interrupt the process and it will pick up later where you left it. I would leave it until you can’t wait any longer, then interrupt the process manually (the way you are supposed to) so that you can pick up where you left off later, you can do it by running the same exact command, with the same file name and log file name, ddrescue will then look a your log file and start where you left off. Then try foremost. With foremost you are on your own, its been a long time since I use it. You can also convert and transfer the raw data using ddrescue to the third drive and use photorec to rescue each individual file.

  121. Pablo Garcia, 23. March 2011, 20:30

    HI Kathy:
    No, you do not need three hard drives for all of them, all cases are different and all methods are different. I perfectly understand your situation. You might have a chance with “Recover my files” I remember I was once able to recover files from a dying hard drive with it. They have a “demo” version which you can download and try, that way you can see if your files can be recovered before purchasing the product. There’s also a free program called photorec which is excelent, you might want to try that first. Just remember that your hard drive is dying, and it might die at any time. If it does, don’t blame the software, all they do is read.

  122. Kathy, 23. March 2011, 15:22


    Thanks for the feedback. I do not have a bunch of extra drives or another computer besides the older laptop. Is there another tool that will allow me to recover just the pictures files via the USB connect (that is what I did)? Do I need to have the three drives in order to do a recovery for all of the tools on your top 10?


  123. Steve, 22. March 2011, 21:39

    Hi Pablo,

    We have made great progress in the last 24 hours. I am at 119997 MB rescued but it appears to be stuck there. It keeps processing but the rescued, errsize, iops, opos and errors values are not changing. Every so often it will pause for a long time with “end_Request:I/O error and Buffer I/O error”, but eventually it will start again. Two more questions: Will I be able to convert the image created back to Mac formated data files without imaging back to another drive, I am only after the data. Use Foremost??? I am under a bit of a time constraint, I can let it run through tomorrow and maybe even Thursday but that is it. Will I be able to get to the data if I don’t let it follow through to completion? I did read that if you stop the process it will it will pick back up where it left off.

    Thanks again,

  124. Pablo Garcia, 22. March 2011, 20:52

    Hi Steve:
    Yes, that sounds normal. Remember your hard drive is damaged. If DDrescue encounters a batch of bad sectors on the drive it will do whatever it can to read data off those sectors. If the hard drive is really damaged the process can take several days. Hopefully that is not the case with yours, but I’ve had this happen to me, so be prepared to wait a long time.

  125. Pablo Garcia, 22. March 2011, 20:48

    Hi Kathy:
    You cannot connect a hard drive as a slave to a laptop, laptops only accept one hard drive. You probably connected it by usb. The method described in this article would be perfect for you however, I would suggest you do a lot more reading before attempting it, or get somebody that knows about computers to help you out. You have to read and be REALLY sure of what you are doing, because if you confuse the source and destination drives your data will be overwritten.

  126. Steve, 22. March 2011, 0:21

    Hi Pablo,

    I have a Seagate 120 Gig drive from a Mac running on ddrescure right now. It is hooked to a HP Dual core PC tuning the Ddrescue Live CD. I was optomistic at the begining, it recoverd alot of data quicklly but then it started throwingf errors. It has been going for a couple of hours and we are at 7271 MB recovered with a 177290 KB errsize and 142 errors. It is geting alot of I/O errors and READ DMA failed commands. Is this normal? How long should I let it run before throwing in the towel? Since it is Mac, will I be able to use Foremost to recover the data without pushing the image out to a different drive?

    Thank you in advance,

  127. Kathy, 21. March 2011, 22:33


    I am a novice PC user and am trying to recover files from a crashed hard drive with bad sectors. I set it p as a slave on an older laptop that I have and attempted to access the drive via Windows explorrer. The drive is recognized, even so much as the amount of data on it, but I get errors asking me to reformat the drive (I did not reformat).The drive appears as two local disks ( I assume this means its partitioned?) I am unable to view any of the files in the directory. Most of the files on the drive are picture files and a few small spreadsheet and document files. I only really care about the pictures. I read your top ten article and am concerned that some software requires several additioanl drivesto recover the data to. All I wanted to do was to be able to copy the picture files to my older laptop. Which tool do you recommend for my situation?

    Thanks for your help,

  128. Pablo Garcia, 21. March 2011, 0:33

    Hi Popkawn:

    Sometimes it can be tricky for URR to read a Hard Drive properly. From experience it is best if you can connect the hard drive directly to the computer IDE or SATA cable. USB works but depends on your chipset. Even with a direct sata or IDE connection URR sometiemes has problems if Linux does not like your chipset. I bought an SATA pci controller card, they sell them on eBay pretty cheap, I’ve had good luck with the Silicon Image chipset:

  129. popkawn, 17. March 2011, 13:28

    Hey Pablo,

    Great article! I’m trying to recover information from my 60gb laptop drive using the dd_rescue from URR cd. All things seemed fine, but now its in a continuous loop of retrying bad sectors. It started with 622 errors, now it is only down to 614. It is now day four of the retries. Am I doing something wrong? Should I continue? or just scrap the whole thing and restart?

    Thanks in advance

  130. Pablo Garcia, 16. March 2011, 18:10

    Hi Sam:
    you could, using gparted. (you can use the gparted live CD or Partition Magic which comes with gparted) however, your drive has to be big enough. Lets say that your damaged drive was 750GB and your destination is 2GB. You can extract the raw image to the destination drive, and then use gparted to split the drive in two different partitions. 1TB and 1TB each. Then extract your data from one to the other. Now’ if you are using Foremost, I believe that foremost is able to extract single files, if that is the case then you do not need the second partition to be that big. You brought an interesting point, let me know if you were successful.

  131. Sam, 16. March 2011, 13:22

    Thanks Pablo. Good to know. Do you know if/how this would work from my earlier question:
    “Can I partition the 250 GB drive so that it can function as both the “Image Recovered Drive” and the “Extracted Image Drive”? “

  132. Pablo Garcia, 15. March 2011, 21:25

    You can use Foremost, however I have not written that article yet, so I do not have the process fresh in my mind at the moment. What I can tell you is that Foremost comes with Ubuntu Rescue Remix.

  133. Sam, 15. March 2011, 16:55

    Hi Pablo,

    I have an 80GB IDE drive that I would like to recover data from. The “good” drive is a 250GB SATA drive. Can I partition the 250 GB drive so that it can function as both the “Image Recovered Drive” and the “Extracted Image Drive”? If so, how should I do this? I have the Ubuntu Rescue Remix Live CD. If not, it sound like I’ll need to use Foremost to extract the files from the recovered image. Last, are there any issues with the different drive interfaces (IDE vs. SATA)?

  134. Pablo Garcia, 14. March 2011, 21:37

    Hi Rawan

    The answer is NO, it is not enough. You have to get one a little bigger and then a third one te same size or a little bigger as well. DDrescue copies data bit by bit regardless of what it is stored there, so it will copy absolutely all sectors, whether they have data or not. You can test the process first with a smaller hard drive if you have one available to see if it starts copying your data, before you invest in a bigger one. Remember your destination drive has to be empty or it will erase all your data.

  135. Rawan, 14. March 2011, 19:43

    hey my 1TB my book fell down heeh and when i plug it to the laptop it works will it makes a bit of a sound at the begnning but then it stops and the laptop detect it but when i go to my computer there’s nothing there but i can see down in the taskbar thing that green arrow “safly remove hardware” thing and it shows the name of my hard disk so will this work for me ??
    i’ve red ur article and i donnow but can i use just 1 hard disk and it’s 500GB it’s totaly empty ??
    my 1TB wasn’t full so i donnow i guess it’ll be enough or ??

  136. Pablo Garcia, 9. March 2011, 19:51

    HI Hyder:
    I am not too familiar with MACs… if you could connect the hard drive directly to a PC… (I don’t mean by USB or Firewire, I mean by SATA or IDE cable) and then go into the BIOS, and see if it detects it. If it does then you have a pretty good chance of getting your data back.

  137. Pablo Garcia, 9. March 2011, 19:47

    Hi Steven Leong:
    From what you are saying, you opened the actual hard drive. You should never do that under any circumstances, that should only be done by professionals in dust free rooms. If any spec o dust falls in the hard drive’s plates, it can make matters worse.
    Regarding your question: I am going to tell you what I told everybody else… Read the article…
    First thing you should do is see if the hard drive is being detected by the computer’s BIOS. because if it is not then, no software will be able to help you. If the BIOS detects the drive there is a pretty good chance you will be able to get your data back with this procedure.

  138. Hyder Bilgrami, 9. March 2011, 18:29

    Hello Pablo,

    I have this seagate external drive that fell from my hand. It started giving the click sound. I could see the disk in utilities of my MAC computer but when I asked the tech support of of the data recovery software he said that if you cant see the the information about how the disk was formatted they wont be able to help me.. do you think Ubuntu RR will be able to help me to recover the data ?? I have MAC and the drive damaged is external drive..also the drive fell down and then it started giving click sound … please help !

  139. Steven Leong, 9. March 2011, 11:28

    Aloha Pablo,
    I carefully opened my maxor hard drive after reading your article. I plugged it in, and discovered that the clicking noises that was comming from it. It was from the armature hitting the center (spindle) then back about 1/2 inch over and over again. It hadn’t been recoginzed by my computer ever since it fell, and started making the clicking noises. I was wondering if I could use the procedure on this page, or if it would be usless. I don’t have the money to send it to a recovery center. There are some very sentimental files on it that I would like to recover though. I am no way an expert on computers. Far from it. I am willing to read carefully, and follow directions. Would you please let me know if you could help me with this or not?
    Steven Leong

  140. Pablo Garcia, 6. March 2011, 22:03

    Hi Nelson:
    1) If your hard drive is not detected by the BIOS of the computer you have to send it to a data recovery service, if the computer does not see the drive, there is no program that can help you. (Note that I said the BIOS, not windows, not mac OSX…. THE BIOS!)
    3) You do not have to invest on anything… get an old hard drive, does not have to be of the same size, see if the process at least starts to work, if it does then purchase one, (not two) if you can get the complete raw image then purchase the third one.
    2) Seems to me that you are a little confused. Ubuntu Rescue Remix is an operating system in itself that runs from the CD without needing the hard drive to operate. is does not work on Windows or any other operating system.

  141. nelson, 6. March 2011, 20:01

    hi my 1Tb (almost full 15gb free) fall :(
    now it’s making a little buzing with a click sound and don’t start anymore.
    i beleive it’s better to send it to a lab to be open, rather to invest on 2 hard drives of 2Tb and not be able to make that process dicribe above ! i suppose the damaged drive need to start at least since the solution provide above it’s made via a software application ?

    -the sofware Ubuntu Rescue Remix will it work on windows XP or can i use a laptop runing vista and use the usb ports ?

  142. Pablo Garcia, 4. March 2011, 18:48

    Hi Chris:
    It seems to me that you are planning to restore your 2TB hard drive to your 500gb hard drive on your mac. I strongly suggest not to even attempt that or you will overwrite every file on your MAC. As I said at the beginning of the article, you need 3 drives for this. One will be your original damaged hard drive, then you need two, one of bigger size and a third one of equal or bigger size than the original. 2nd hard drive to record your raw data, and the 3rd hard drive is for dumping the content of your raw data file, to decode them and make them readable, if you will. You need to read the article.

  143. Chris, 4. March 2011, 13:58

    Hey Pablo,

    This seems to be working for people, but I’m stuck with what to do due to my hard drive size.

    I have a 2 TB Western Digital external drive that is clicking and no longer getting recognized by my macbook. My internal hard drive is only 500gb… how do I get the image off of my external drive?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  144. Pablo Garcia, 3. March 2011, 11:07

    Hi Welliam, you are restoring whole partition. You cannot restore a partition over another partition, it will overwrite it. The drive needs to be empty before restoring your data. It is stated on the article. In order to read the partition you restored, you probably need to mark it as active using Windows (if it was originally a Windows partition like NTFS or Fat32), read the last part of the article. I would do that first, and once you are done you can try using photorec and see if you can recover some of the files from the overwritten partition.

  145. welliam, 3. March 2011, 10:46

    Hi Pablo
    I think am in very big trouble ….. I finished recovering from my damaged HD ,,, then I connected the destination HD (which contain the raw image) to my desktop and extract the image to my 1 TB HD which is a windows 7 partition …. when its done extracting the HD didn’t boot the windows at all … also it’s not detected in windows 7 installation menu …. I ran testdisk in the remix cd and it showed me that the HD is non partitioned and when I explore the data inside (by testdisk) the original windows files wasn’t there and all my data in the 1 TB HD is lost I lost my data in the 2 hard drives … I really don’t knw what to do now??? pleazzzzzze help

  146. Ronel, 28. February 2011, 12:12

    Hi Pablo,
    Thank you for your prompt response and concrete answer. Ok then, i will try it at home and hopefully i can be able to restore my files. Thank you so much for this very informative post. You just don’t know how much you’re helping us. Have a nice day!! =D

  147. Pablo Garcia, 28. February 2011, 12:04

    JustPIe; I am really not sure. For specifics you should consult the URR forum.

  148. Pablo Garcia, 28. February 2011, 12:01

    Hi Ronel:
    There is no such thing as a “Linux based machine” or a “Windows based machine”. Linux is an operating system just like Windows and YES it is designed to run on PCs, you do not need to install it for this procedure. You can boot off the URR LiveCD. The LiveCD will boot to a fully functional operating system without ever touching the computer’s hard drive.

  149. JustPIe, 28. February 2011, 11:22

    I have let ddrescue run for 5 days on a 250gb disk and ddrescue is still running. I checked the image size using
    ls -lh and it reports that the image size is 280gb, 30gb larger than the disk itself. I am wondering if this is normal?


  150. Ronel, 28. February 2011, 11:00

    Hi Pablo,
    I had my laptop hdd crashed last Saturday. The hardrive is not detected anymore and has a clicking noise of death. Sadly, i have importants files on that drive that needs to be recovered and found your post seems interesting and would likely resolve my issue. I just want to clarify if the URR would run on a windows based machine or i really need to run it on an ubuntu/linux based machine.. Sorry as i haven’t worked on a linux based platform so i really need to clarify this. Thank you for sharing your knowledge to everyone. You’re a “life saver”! =D

  151. Pablo Garcia, 27. February 2011, 11:08

    Nataly and Brittini: If the hard drive is not detected by the BIOS of the computer it is pretty much game over. If these are external hard drives, you need to take the actual hard drive out of the enclosure and connect it directly to the computer via the SATA or IDE cables, and then see if the BIOS detects it. (I suggest you read-up on this before attempting anything or you can do more damage than good.) If it does not and the hard drive has the clicking sound your only option is pretty much a data recovery service.

  152. Nataly, 27. February 2011, 6:58

    Hi Pablo

    I’m completely new to this , My HDD makes the clicking sound and is not detected by the system or the BIOS . Could you give me an idea of what step to follow in this situation in order to recover the my data.


  153. Brittini, 27. February 2011, 2:57

    I hope I’ve found the right place! My photos [about 60gb worth] are saved on an external hard drive, because obviously having that many photos on my computer would slow it way down. well, its now making the “clicking noise of death” Earlier today i started backing up my photos onto a different external, but didn’t get very far before my main external stopped working altogether. my computer doesn’t even recognize it when i plug it in. [but it is running, i can feel it and hear the noise.] what do you recommend i do to get the files from the bad hard drive to the good? i tried downloading the Ubuntu Rescue Remix but after hours the download had only progressed to 1%.

    Any advice would be helpful. My photos are so important to me. I have most of them saved on my second external hard drive, but its been a couple months since i backed up so i have a lot to loose.

  154. Pablo Garcia, 26. February 2011, 19:48

    Hi Welliam:

    With DDrescue you can make an image out of a specific partition. For this to work your partition has to be recognized by Ubuntu Rescue Remix. However, you would have to specify that you want to image that partition. For example if the drive is /dev/sdb then your partitions could be named /dev/sdb1 and /dev/sdb2. Then you would have to use other switches than those described in my article to specify that you want to recover a partition and not the entire drive. I think the command will go something like this to recover partition /dev/sdb1 (Don’t quote me on this)

    ddrescue -r 3 -v /dev/sdb1 image log

    Read the Ubuntu Rescue Remix Forum to find more info on this.

  155. Welliam, 26. February 2011, 19:06

    I have the source 640 gb divided into 2 partitions equally and destination 500 gb and am recovering only from the 1st partition of the source about 300 gb … and am sure am not confusing any HD with the other ….. but they are connected by usb cuase the source is laptop HD and distination is external WD my-book ((am using my other laptop for this)) ……. I restarted it again and Ihope it’ll continue with out problems but if this problem accurs again ,,what shall I do?? :))

  156. Pablo Garcia, 26. February 2011, 18:55

    Hi Welliam, I do not know exactly what you are doing. do you have both the source and destination drives connected to the SATA or IDE cables on the computer? Are you identifying the drives properly? you have to be careful with this because if you confuse your source and destination drives you can overwrite your data. Seems to me that your destination drive is not big enough. Your destination drive has to be bigger than your source because you need space for the image which is the same size as your hard drive and the log files.

  157. Welliam, 26. February 2011, 1:50

    thankssss Pablo and am sorry for bothering u again but i got a problem and I don knw wat to do?? am recovering a 640GB WD HD (for laptop) but After ddrescue reach 66 GB it gave me this message (( error opening logfile log for writing : read-only file system – fix the problem and press enter to continue or press q+enter to abort )) ….. I aborted the process then try to see if it’ll continue but it keeps telling me : ((cannot open output file : read-only file system)) what should I do????
    I really need ur help >>>>>>>>>>>>>> :)))

  158. Pablo Garcia, 25. February 2011, 14:11

    Your image will be the exact same size as the size of the original hard drive because DDrescue copies every single sector on the drive. DDrescue does not understand or know if you have data in a particular sector, it copies exactly what it sees. Lets say for example that you deleted a file on your original hard drive. DDrescue will still copy those sectors and when you restore that data on another hard drive you can even recover your deleted file using other software (like photorec, or recovermyfiles) it is an exact copy.

  159. Pablo Garcia, 25. February 2011, 13:56

    Hi Welliam:

    You need, there are three hard drives involved in this method… #1 the damaged hard drive, #2 the hard drive where you are going to be extracting the data in raw format to, #3 the hard drive where you are going to extract the data from hard drive #2. The data from hard drive #2 is not readable it is in raw format.

  160. Welliam, 25. February 2011, 8:49

    hi every-one…..
    I started the process and its going well so far…. but I didn’t understand th 3rd HD needed …. why??
    and its not necessary unless I want the entire partition .. how??
    can anyone help me understanding this ….. plzzzz :))))

  161. Nanda, 24. February 2011, 0:57

    Excellent article…Very clear and at the same time very technical…I have been searching for this information for long. Thanks.

  162. Tom, 22. February 2011, 15:27

    If your problem drive is half full, how large of an image file will URR create?

  163. troubled, 20. February 2011, 6:39

    i have transcend 320 GB harddisk and recently it wasnt detected on my was asking to format.i was running ok..untill now…it again went corrupt and was asking to when i format it,it doesnt evn get formatted.what do i do??????? please help

  164. Francesco, 20. February 2011, 4:53

    I have an 40 GB IBM deskstar (IDE) with the “famous” click of death noise. I can’t even boot my computer when the hard drive is plugged in: it is stuck at the IDE devices recognition step. I can’t enter neither in the BIOS setup. Is there something to do? What about Dan who tried to do some surgery on his HD? Any help is welcome :)

  165. John, 17. February 2011, 14:50

    Hi, I have used the above method to recover a 80gb hdd in a notebook. Its been going on for about 3 weeks and a bit. Is there a way to stop the process and extract the recover data or does it have to keep going till the end (because, i don’t know exactly when it will finish).

  166. AJ Wilcox, 15. February 2011, 22:41

    Fantastic, Pablo! Thanks for your quick response. I’m in the process of copying the image over before I restore it back to the permanent drive. Your guide has been a boon to me, and here’s hoping I can recover my data :)

  167. Pablo Garcia, 15. February 2011, 17:30

    Hi AJ:

    1) If drive #1 and #3 are identical DDrescue would have done the job. Drive #2 (the destination drive) has to be slightly bigger because it will contain the raw image and the log files created by Ubuntu Rescue Remix. Sometimes I’ve had cases where the final drive (#3) is a little smaller and I’ve still been able to make it work, even if the recovery was not 100% completed, but of course I would not recommend this.

    2) DDrescue recovers data in raw format, not on any file type in particular. it makes an identical copy of what it sees on the drive. I would try to keep everything in ext3 or ext4. Its kind of a hassle for Linux to write to an NTFS partition, it can do it but sometimes it can be buggy and then you end up loosing time.

    You do not necessarily have to use a third drive of equal or bigger size to dump the data into (unless you want the entire partition), you can use a program called foremost to extract the select files out of the raw image. Foremost comes with Ubuntu Rescue Remix.

  168. AJ Wilcox, 15. February 2011, 14:21

    I have identical 320GB drives and ran DDRescue on them. At about 315GB it said it ran out of space. I think it needs to have a bigger drive than the original – FYI.

    2 questions:
    1. My failed drive was only half full to begin with, so I don’t have a problem testing the image with the last 5GB left off to see if I got the important stuff – but sometimes you need a complete image to do anything with. Is that the case with DDrescue? Or will it work fine even if I don’t have the full image?

    2. In what format does Ubuntu RR extract the image? I want to make sure that I can mount my wife’s NTFS windows filesystem to drop the full image onto instead of formatting a whole 3rd drive for ext3.

  169. Pablo Garcia, 14. February 2011, 10:41

    Hi Kiki

    I do not know your situation but you have to be patient. How do you have the drive connected to the computer? via USB? USB is very buggy with Ubuntu Rescue Remix, it would be best if you can connect it directly to the SATA or IDE cable of the computer. Before trying this however you can try plugging in the hard drive in other usb sockets, sometimes that works as well. No once you start DDrescue and it starts recovering some data, leave it and don’t touch it, recovery can take anywhere from an hour to a week. Depending on how hard the data is to read. Regarding your question about disabling any part of DDrescue I think it is best if you post the question in the Ubuntu Rescue Remix forum.

  170. Pablo Garcia, 14. February 2011, 10:32


    Same answer for you, if the BIOS does not recognize the hard drive, URR won’t either.

  171. Pablo Garcia, 14. February 2011, 10:30

    Hi Khalid

    If the BIOS of the computer does not recognize the hard drive, Ubuntu Rescue Remix won’t recognize it either.

  172. Pablo Garcia, 14. February 2011, 10:28

    Hi Marcel:

    Thank you very much for your kind words. It is comments like yours that motivate me every day.

  173. Pablo Garcia, 14. February 2011, 10:26

    Ubuntu Rescue Remix could take days even weeks. depending on how difficult the data is to read. That is very normal.

  174. J, 14. February 2011, 8:06

    Could anyone tell me the expected time this takes with a 320gb hard drive? I’ve already tried this once but due to a power outage in the area I had to start again. It had been running for 3days. I’ve started it up again and still seem to get the same message that reads something like:

    [ 4357.78970900] end_request: I/O error, dev sdc, sector 134122908

    This appears over and over but the numbers increase, with a few variations in between that I can’t quite make out. (something about “logical block”, “time from last sucsessful read”..)

    Just wanting to confirm if this is what’s meant to happen..? Thanks

  175. Marcel, 13. February 2011, 4:46

    Hi Pablo,

    Thanks a lot for this excellent manual. As I am a total newbie to Ubuntu, my hands were shaking when working with commands and all the hard drives but having eliminated a few stupid mistakes I had done, it worked like a charm! With the exception of a few really malfunctioning clusters I managed to restore most of my old 200GB hard drive and I am eternally grateful to you.



  176. jefscwe, 11. February 2011, 10:56

    my hard drive fell down and when i connect it it blinks one time and then nothing happens i computer does not recognise it and my hard disk does not become hot do you have any idea what to do ?

  177. Kiki, 10. February 2011, 6:18

    Hi Pablo,
    My 320G hard drive fell and anytime I connect it to my PC using a USB cable, the message comes up that I have to format my hard drive. I don’t want to do this as I have so many important files on the hard drive; hence I decided to try recovering the files using your steps.
    I followed your steps using the Ubuntu live CD to boot my PC and everything seemed to be in order. However, it seems like i’m stuck at the “splitting failed blocks” stage of the recovery from the bad hard drive to the destination one. It has been “splitting failed blocks” for over 2 days now.
    The size of the bad blocks is about 32M, and i think i would prefer to lose that data, than have this stage go on endlessly as time is not on my side.
    Is it possible to avoid this step (splitting) by using a command before doing a recovery?

  178. Khalid, 10. February 2011, 4:51

    i have EXTERNAL WD HDD but my computer does not detect it when i plug it in also there is clicking sound. Is there any way to recover my data from this HDD,

  179. rob d, 9. February 2011, 23:38

    thanks for the response. i managed to get it going, but there seems to be a problem with my bad drive. a few minutes after plugging it in and being recognized, a bunch of error messages pop up and the most notable being a line that says the device has been disconnect, and at the end it says the it has a problem emulating from USB port X (X being whatever usb port i plugged it into). after this it is no longer visible via “cat /proc/partitions”.
    it happens whether or not i run ddrescue, but when i did run ddrescue while it was still recognized, i didn’t see any data being retrieved.

    i assume this drive is beyond recovery via this method? atleast that is the conclusion i have come up with.

  180. Pablo Garcia, 9. February 2011, 21:44

    Hi Rob

    What you are describing is classical Ubuntu Rescue Remix behavior. Try to get a hard drive that is not 80gb, that is a little bigger or of a different brand. If you can’t get one I would do the following: Unplug the bad drive and plug only the good “destination” drive. Format it mount it and create a the recovery directories inside it. Make sure you unmount it properly otherwise it might not show up when you run lshw next time you boot. Then connect both drives and boot the computer again, now you can tell which one is which by mounting one and seeing what you have inside.

    Hope that helps.

  181. rob d, 9. February 2011, 12:16

    I’m having a small problem getting this recovery going. It seems that with the computer i’m using, my drives have to be plugged in from start up or else they won’t get recognized by ubuntu. heres my problem: when i boot the liveCD with my destination drive only, and run the lshw command, i see the drive with the full name (its a western digital so it says WD with the rest of the numbers for the model) but when i boot up with both drives on, once ubuntu loads and i run the lshw command, both drives show up but they show up as “80gb scsi drive” and “scsi drive”. i have no idea which one is which, and when i unplug the bad drive, and run the lshw command is still is on the list of drives. i even tried to unplug the bad drive, and then format the one i thought may have been the WD (the 80GB scsi drive one) it gives me all kinds of I/O errors, even though it works perfectly when the WD is plugged in by itself and loaded from the beginning. any ideas of how to move past this?

  182. Pablo Garcia, 2. February 2011, 14:44


    you have too boot the mac from the liveCD not from OSX. to do this I think you have to hold the C key inmediately after you turn your computer on.

  183. rob b, 1. February 2011, 23:59

    how do you run Ubuntu on a macbook pro to recover corrupt files from an external hard drive

  184. Pablo Garcia, 31. January 2011, 8:08


    Let me know if you are successful. I have never attempted this myself but I read somewhere you can have some dust as long as it is not too much, since that dust will fly off the plates when they start spinning.

  185. Dan, 31. January 2011, 2:01

    Hello Pablo,

    Thanks for the quick response. BIOS is not seeing the drive. So at this point I am assuming the worst, and may attempt to replace the heads myself. This is more of a test run than anything but I still would like to be successful. It seems that I have to keep as much dust as I can away from the hard drive when I open it up. I already have an exact hard drive match. Looking for the challenge at this point, would be satisfying if it was successful though. Thanks again.

  186. Pablo Garcia, 29. January 2011, 19:55

    Hi Dan:

    Do you know if your BIOS is seeing the drive? If your BIOS is not detecting the drive, Ubuntu Rescue Remix won’t see it. LSHW is not full-proof, it makes frequent mistakes. If your BIOS is seeing the drive, try to make a careful guess of what the drive path might be. You can do this by unplugging the destination drive and running LSHW again, that way you will know with certainty which one is which and you won’t run into the risk of over-writing your data.

  187. Dan, 29. January 2011, 18:42

    Hey Pablo,

    Thanks for the great info. Unfortunately I have tried to use the Ubuntu Rescue Remix and my hard drive (making slight clicking noise) is not visible using lshw or the cat command. Is it safe to assume that there is a more serious problem with my hard drive? Im thinking something is wrong with reader on the arm inside the hard drive. Seems like this will be a more involved and risky process. Any ideas or comments?

    Also I should add I was lucky enough to find a very good donor hard drive match off ebay and already tried switching the PCB board, neither helped when trying to use the software you mentioned here. I greatly appreciate any input.

  188. Pablo Garcia, 27. January 2011, 8:22

    Hi Eddie:

    Try the command with “sudo” in front. I modified the instructions to reflect this. Most of the time when you get something like that in Ubuntu Linux is because you need administrator permissions, this gets resolved by the sudo command.

  189. Desperate Eddie, 26. January 2011, 12:21

    after formatting my destination hdd,
    i follow these steps;
    mkdir mnt
    sudo mount /dev/sda mnt
    cd mnt
    mkdir recovery
    at this point I get this message ” mkdir: cannot create directory “recovery” : Permission denied



  190. Pablo Garcia, 23. January 2011, 10:24

    Hi Alan:

    What is your setup? do you have an external drive connected via USB? if so, try another USB port, sometimes it starts working just by doing this. There are two versions of rescue remix, one is Debian based and the other one is Ubuntu based. Try the Ubuntu based one, you might have better luck with it. If it does not work no matter what you do, you can always take the hard drive out and use another computer.

  191. Alan, 23. January 2011, 1:53

    I have downloaded Ubuntu Rescue Remix 10.10 but I am not able to boot the computer with it. I can see the startup screen which it asks you to type “live” to get into LiveCD. I entered “live”, then it starts to load two files. After a blank screen of waiting, then come error. The first line of error is “/sbin/shadowconfig: 49: grpck: Input/output error” then next line is “/sbin/shadowconfig: 49: grpconv: Input/output error”, then more error lines continues to come up.

    Please help!

  192. Pablo Garcia, 20. January 2011, 18:22

    Yes, try Ddrescue

  193. sydnei, 19. January 2011, 3:17

    Oh, I run a macbook. I have replaced the drive (80 gig SATA) with a 320 Gig. It’s the 80 gig that’s causing me grief. Can I use the above method on my macbook (running snow leopard?)

  194. sydnei, 19. January 2011, 3:14

    Hi Pablo,

    I’ve been told by the geeks that I have to send my drive into data recovery because the needle is stuck.



  195. Amy, 18. January 2011, 18:48

    I bought a Fujitsu 320GB portable hard drive in HK. It works well there but when I brought it back to Vancouver, it loads slowly and I can hardly retrieve my folders. I have already saved most of my photos there but still have more than 500 photos could not be retrieved. They contains CR2 files and Jpeg files. A technican here said my hard drive is having some problems. He could not open it to see what happen. I tried several photo recovery softwares and they only can save those that I have deleted but not those that still in my hard drive. I am getting frustrated and seeking for any help to save my photos. Do you have any suggestions?

  196. Pablo Garcia, 2. January 2011, 10:19


    You need at least a second hard drive to extract the data to. There is no need for a third one, although is really useful. You can use a program called “Foremost” that will let you extract the data from the raw image. It is included with Ubuntu Rescue Remix, so what you will have to do is connect the second hard drive containing the raw image to another computer as a slave or as an external hard drive. Boot that computer with Ubuntu Rescue Remix then mount both, the computer’s main drive and the one with the raw image and use foremost to extract that data to a directory on your computer’s main drive.

  197. Pablo Garcia, 2. January 2011, 10:10

    Hi Adelle:

    The freezer solution is just to get your files out as fast as you possibly can, since after the hard drive has thawed off you might not be able to get your data of ever again. I would try every other solution first before trying the freezer solution. This works on good hard drive and hard drives with “the click of death”. and yes it does works for MACs as well, it works for any operating system, you are just extracting raw data from the hard drive. Then you have extract the data from the raw image to another hard drive. and if it is corrupt, you have to fix it with TestDisk, I have another article on how to do that. The link is at the bottom of the article.

  198. Adelle, 1. January 2011, 18:29

    Can this be done on a Mac? Also if I have already tried the “freezer solution” can I still do the above?

  199. Lisa, 31. December 2010, 17:21

    i do not have another hard drive available to place my data in and i do not have the money to buy a new one is there a way in which i can just put the data on one of the drives on my computer or how should i do it?


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