Nonbooting drive, bad sectors, what to do next?

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by OutOfGum, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. OutOfGum

    OutOfGum Limp Gawd

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    About a week ago my friend's laptop suddenly wouldn't boot, got the generic error message "Disk read error has occurred." After trying various boot options, none of which worked, I decided to put the drive in an enclosure to see what was up.

    Windows detects the drive and assigns 2 drive letters, but doesn't show capacity. The first drive letter is Dell's recovery partition and is working fine, but when I try to open the other (main) partition I get the message that the disk needed to be formatted. I scanned it using OnTrack's EasyRecovery which I got for my own crash a year ago. The program reported lots of bad sectors and probable physical errors. I tried doing a raw recovery but with the errors the estimated time to completion climbed to over 4000 hours.

    One reason I think the problem may not be physical is that there is no problem with the recovery partition and another is that there are no unusual noises coming from the drive.

    Does anyone have any idea of what's wrong with the drive or how to get data off? EasyRecovery doesn't seem to be working and I don't want to cause further damage if its a physical problem. Also is there any way to find out for sure whether this is a physical problem?
     
  2. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Could have a unreadable sectors in the boot area.

    I would get the same or larger disk and use a linux livecd with ddrescue on it to make a bit for bit copy of the drive recovering as much of the good sectors as possible.

    http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/Ddrescue

    Then run chkdsk on the recovered disk.
     
  3. gojirasan

    gojirasan n00b

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    http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm

    http://www.dposoft.net/hdd.html

    Those are the programs to use if you have lots of bad sectors.

    EasyRecovery is an excellent recovery program. If that doesn't help you the data is probably not recoverable, but it might be worth trying some other recovery programs for good measure. I would recommend GetDataBack and in another thread someone recommended Active@ recovery programs as being even better. Also you could try using testdisk to check if the $MFT mirror is salvagable. I doubt it because I think EasyRecovery would have picked that up.

    Just because the drive is not making any strange sounds does not mean it is not broken. Most of the drives I have had die on me never made any loud clicking or grinding noises. Have you tried checking the SMART data? I strongly suspect a bad drive due to the fact that it happened suddenly with no known cause.

    Did your friend have a program crash or power/battery outage recently that might have messed up the file system? Testdisk and chkdsk are the only programs I know of that can repair fubared file systems if that is your only problem. You probably can't run chkdsk from within windows, although since Windows assigned it a drive letter you could try chkdsk [drive]: /f from the command prompt. You haven't mentioned if you have tried that yet. Unfortunately sometimes chkdsk can make things worse. And you are not supposed to interrupt chkdsk once it starts. The safest route to try to save the data is to just go directly to Spinrite and try to backup the drive before you do anything else.
     
  4. OutOfGum

    OutOfGum Limp Gawd

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I'm not comfortable enough with linux to try a recovery on it, but the software does look good. I'd try it if I had more free time on my hands.

    I'll take a look at spinrite, active@, and I've seen r-studio mentioned a lot. I'm not sure how the $MFT mirror works so I'll look into that as well. This is the first time I've worked with a problematic 2.5" HDD, the crashes I've had involved 3.5" and they all made horrible noises before death.

    I did try chkdsk /f and it kept returning damaged sectors so I stopped it. I was worried about it grinding the drive away, especially if there was a physical problem. I'm not sure about the power/battery outage situation, I doubt it was the culprit though. The laptop was kept fairly stationary and was plugged in most of the time.

    I suppose if nothing works I'll try gillware.com which I've seen mentioned around here.
     
  5. OutOfGum

    OutOfGum Limp Gawd

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    Update:
    GetDataBack NTFS did the trick where EasyRecovery (may have) failed. It took 27 hours to scan the drive (during which time the enclosure got scary hot so I broke out some heatsinks to put on top) and get a file tree. 99% of the stuff transferred over without a hitch.

    Maybe EasyRecovery would have gotten it given enough time, but the lack of information of what it was doing and the 4k estimated hours were not very promising.
     
  6. gojirasan

    gojirasan n00b

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    Did GetDataBack have read errors while trying to recover the data? That's what happened to me recently. I tried reading the sectors again to no avail. So I just told it to auto-ignore all such errors after which it was able to complete the scan. The problem is that I can't trust the integrity of the recovered data now. I don't know which files were affected by the bad sectors.

    I am running HDD Regenerator right now and it has detected and recovered 48 bad sectors in 4 locations on the disk so far at about halfway through the scan. This is the first time I have actually used HDD Regenerator and I am highly impressed to say the least. Spinrite is slow, hasn't been updated/maintained in years, costs $30 more, and requires you to stop using your computer for I think like 2 days with a 2 TB drive like mine. But I can run HDD Regenerator right from Windows and do other things while it runs. I think the scans are also faster. A 2 TB drive seems to take no more than 6-8 hours for a full repair scan. Spinrite is probably better and more thorough in a case where HDD Regenerator cannot recover all the bad sectors though. In that case I would run HDD Regenerator first and let Spinrite try to mop up whatever bad sectors might be left.

    When I encounter a situation like this in the future I think my SOP is going to be:
    1. chkdsk in read only mode to get some idea of what is going on and then maybe in /f mode to correct any file system errors if it can. I will not use /r.
    1a. if chkdsk does not complete or throws errors then testdisk to check on whether the $MFT matches the $MFT mirror and maybe recover from the mirror if necessary.
    2. HDD Regenerator to scan for bad sectors and recover them if possible and then Spinrite to mop up if there are any unrecoverable sectors.
    3. GetDataBack or other recovery software or maybe the suggestion here of ddrescue to make a backup image including any unrecoverable bad sectors and then GetDataBack. The problem with using GetDataBack before a bad sector recovery program like Spinrite or HDD Regenerator is that it doesn't have any mechanism to try to read bad sectors. It really should. All recovery software should incorporate that functionality. I shouldn't have to use 2 different tools for that.

    I am hoping that once I get FlexRaid up and running I won't have to worry about this sort of scenario anymore. At least as far as data loss is concerned. I have been meaning to install that program for at least 6 months now, but I had been putting it off because I wanted the right hard drive arrangement to do it with.

    Thanks for reporting back about your experiences with GetDataBack vs. EasyRecovery. Are you planning to test the recovered data somehow to make sure it is legit? That's my problem at the moment. How to verify that all those files are not corrupt. In my case I know that at least some of them are because of all those read errors I was getting with GetDataBack and the bad sectors that HDD Regenerator is finding now.

    I don't mean to state the obvious, but just in case you didn't realize it, if the drive really does have all those bad sectors then it is *definitely* bad. As in physically broken. If it is within warranty RMA it. Otherwise secure erase it to whatever extent you can or burn it, microwave it, degauss it, take it apart, melt it down and toss it if you don't need an extra paper weight or something. It's no good as a data storage device anymore. I am preparing my 2TB Caviar Black for RMA today.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  7. OutOfGum

    OutOfGum Limp Gawd

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    Getdataback did have read errors (bad sectors) when scanning but I ignored them. In the end it effected (I think) around 5 non critical files which got error messages when I tried to transfer them. I was thinking about using spinrite but the last update listed on its download page was from 2006 and given the choice I'd rather use something newer. HDD regenerator seems like a good option, 6-8 hours on a 2TB is fast. I'm not going to use chkdsk anymore, I've never had good results with it.

    I will try a repair utility and see if anything can be done with those sectors, then I'll probably try another recovery to see if anything else comes up. I'll post my results. It would be nice if I could scan just repaired sectors to avoid a 25 hour complete scan. I'm not familiar with what's supposed to be on the disk so its really hard to tell if anything is missing. Verifying the data is another issue. Aside from eyeballing what's there, I've compared the data from a couple of folders which were backed up and everything matches to the byte.

    I know the HDD is no good anymore but its out of warranty so I might as well play around. I'll try a full low level format and play with partition magic and see what happens. Maybe I'll be able to use it as a device to transfer files between machines. Worst case scenario I can watch it make sparks in the microwave, I never get tired of that.

    Edit: Hopefully I don't encounter a situation like this in the future but your SOP looks good (except for the part with chkdsk, though maybe its ok in /f mode). I'll look around but HDD Regenerator looks like the one to get. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  8. gojirasan

    gojirasan n00b

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    My second GDB scan on the HDD regenerated drive has started throwing read errors again [picardfacepalm]. You might want to wait on buying that program. I'm not sure exactly what it did but there are still unreadable sectors on the drive. It is looking like the unmaintained, overpriced Spinrite may still be the only game in town for bad sector recovery. It also looks like I am going to be without a computer for a couple of days while I run Spinrite. First I am going to try to run GDB only on select directories to try to narrow down where the bad sectors may lie. This time I am going try to write down each sector number where it hangs and what file it is associated with for later reference. No more "ignore all". One problem with all this redoing is that bad sectors tend to multiply over time like rabbits. The more I use the drive, the longer I wait, the more bad sectors I can expect. I am 30% into my more selective GDB recovery and so far no read errors. Keeping my fingers crossed.