extracting data from a dead hard drive

  biccynana 12:51 PM 24 Nov 11
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Have just had a catastrophic hard drive failure in my Dell laptop. A friend who knows his way round computers and has enough kit to do some investigation of the drive says the following: "It looks like the partitions on the drive are corrupted. So badly in fact I can only see one of them. One is called ‘Recovery’ which is a small Dell partition which, if used, would bring your laptop back to its factory settings. However the partition that this recovery tool would use is not visible so I doubt this would work even if you could boot to it."

Given those comments do you think there's any chance of a specialist being able to recover any data (photos particularly) from the hard drive. I don't really want to spend money on getting the drive looked at if there's absolutely no way any data could be recovered.

Thanks Michael

  robin_x 13:08 PM 24 Nov 11

'Proper' Data Recovery is beyond being worthwhile for 99% of Home Users. ie up to possibly hundreds of pounds.

If the drive is back in the laptop, you could try a simple tool yourself.

Burn a copy of Partition Wizard Bootable CD on another computer then put it in the faulty laptop.

If you can see the small partition and the rest is 'Unallocated', Partition Wizard has a Partition Recovery Wizard that may help.

If you can see othertitions, try right clicking them and selecting Explore.

Partition Wizard also shows Hidden Partitions. If one of them is the full Recovery partition, it can be set 'Active' for a Factory recovery. That should only be done as last resort. There are other ways to confirm any photos etc first.

  robin_x 13:10 PM 24 Nov 11

Ih ave never heard of missing 'corrupted' partitions before. Unless he just meant 'unallocated'

  Secret-Squirrel 13:30 PM 24 Nov 11

"Given those comments do you think there's any chance of a specialist being able to recover any data (photos particularly) from the hard drive"

You've got nothing to lose by trying THIS Michael and there's a good chance you'll get all your precious files back.

You'll find the download link near the top of the tutorial. If it can rebuild your lost partition and recover your files then the free version will let you restore just three folder's worth of data. For the rest you'll need to buy the full version for just $59.99.

Let us know how you get on with it.

  Secret-Squirrel 13:33 PM 24 Nov 11

"A friend who knows his way round computers and has enough kit to do some investigation of the drive..."

Forgot to mention above that you'll need obviously need to remove the laptop's drive and attach it to a working PC. Hopefully your friend will have the kit to do this.

  spuds 15:24 PM 24 Nov 11

If your friend as enough kit to do the job, then see if they can help further, because trying to get data from a 'dead' hard-drive might not be a very cheap option if using a specialist service vendor.

If the hard-drive was functional, then there are some 'forensics' programs on the internet, that might recover data you require?.

  Diemmess 17:53 PM 24 Nov 11

Just a thought.

Errors are not always what they seem at first.

Before even switching the laptop on again, do remove the suspect HD.

Years ago with a brand new computer no less than three HDs failed to complete even the initial Windows 95 installation reporting ever larger bad sectors on the hapless HD

It was bought as ready for my copy of Windows, but otherwise a virgin HD.

The retailer honoured his side and though the computer worked normally from then on, I never asked for the cause, but am sure it was dud ram or a mobo fault.

They sent replacement HDs and finally took it back and sorted it. They did say they had installed Windows to check and then formatted it ready for me! That was in the innocent days when most retailers did their best to oblige a customer. That attitude has meant repeated orders down the years and I have not been disappointed

  Sea Urchin 18:31 PM 24 Nov 11

Well worth trying the Ubuntu rescue disk - download and full instructions here.

Ubuntu rescue disk

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 19:09 PM 24 Nov 11

Test disk not easy to use but very good at recovering bad partitions good tutorial here

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