How to Recover Data Even When Hard Drive is Damaged –

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. 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!!

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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?


  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!?

  9. 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).

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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?


  19. 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:

  20. 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.

  21. 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. :(

  22. 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?


  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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!!

  27. 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)

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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.

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


    Have you tried Photorec?

    How to Recover Erased Data Using Free Software

  34. 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?

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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?????????????

  39. 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

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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.

  45. 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 :)

  46. 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!

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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?

  50. 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.


Write a comment:

You will receive an email when your comment is answered

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.