HUGE hard disks problem, PLEASE! help.

35 pts.
Tags:
Backup & recovery
Data migration
Disk drives
Hard drive repair
Migrations and upgrades
HUGE hard disks problem, PLEASE! help. (Apologies for the lengthy message. My technical expertise is nil and I don't know what information is needed, so I prefer to include every possible detail. Neither is my English very good, but I hope to be able to explain the situation clearly) My computer is an old modified Pentium 4 Micron Millennia with three physical hard disks. - Disk 1 (40GB) has two partitions (C,D) The C: drive has the operating system (WinXP Pro sp1) plus the program files. D: has only a few of My Documents. - The bulk of my data is in drive E: (60GB) which is disk 2. - Disk 3 (250GB) is drive H: and holds images of partitions C, D and E plus individual backups, software installation files and other less important resources and data files. I thought that this setting was foolproof and my data 100% safe. Not so, a couple of weeks days ago drive E: got virtually "fried" and drive H: was also greatly damaged, both at the same time. How and why did it happen? I don't have a clue. There was a storm, but only a mild one, and - besides - everything is connected through a UPS, which didn't even beep. The only thing I know is that I heard a "clack" and drive E: literally "spat out" both connectors. And I mean *literally*. The only other thing that I can think of is that drive E: was being defragged, which I've done regularly dozens of times. The situation now is this: the computer doesn't even "see" drive E:, so it seems that there is nothing to do for it other than send it to a data recovering service ...but it's a 2200 to 3600 dollars solution that I cannot afford. Drive H:, on the other hand, is "seen" by the computer, but as soon as I boot I get a message that says: "Warning. Immediately back up your data and replace your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminent". Did an online search and discovered Ontrack Advisor and Spinrite. Both give the same warning message. Moreover, drive H: appears as "empty" in Windows Disk Manager, "healthy" but with no file system. Amazingly, according to the manager drive E: is also enjoying good health, but as part of the same disk ...and it's not even connected. Only one of the more knowledgeable people I have consulted so far believes me when I say that drive E: literally ejected the connectors. But not even this person seems to believe that drives E: and H: are two SEPARATE physical disks. The reason is in the attached image. If you'll please take a look at it you'll see that the Disk Manager shows them as two partitions of the same disk. How's this possible? What happened? No idea. (Couldn't attach the image. Here's the link: http://urlvi.be/5v7wn - please enlarge it to "original size", it has annotations) That's the problem, explained as best I can. It's HUGE for me, because the information I need to recover is very important to me and because I don't know what to do. Fortunately drive H: has a 15/21 days old image of drive E:, so if I manage to somehow copy or repair it I'll be at least 90% satisfied. Provided drive E was not "stamped" on it, as the Disk Manager seems to imply. I sincerely appreciate your reading this far, and hope you'll be able to help me find a solution. Specifically: 1. How can I "safely and securely" copy the contents of disk H: to another disk if the computer doesn't even read them? Is there a way, or a software program, to do this?, and/or 2. Is there a way or a software program to "safely and securely" repair disk H:? I strongly stress "safely and securely" because I don't want to put whatever data is still recoverable at risk by trying non-100% secure options. I consulted with a disk repair software developer and he very honestly replied that "(his program) is safe to run. However, if you see the warning message, your hard drive's condition is bad. It may completely fail at any time. It may also completely fail when you will be scanning it with (his program), not because of (his program), but because the drive's condition is bad and it may fail at any time." As a hint, he also said: "It sounds like there are bad sectors in the file table area that affected the logical structure of your disk" ...whatever that means. Two final details: (1) as you've probably noticed in the attached image, I had an Acronis Secure Zone Partition. A small one, not for backup images but only to be able to use the Startup Recovery and the Try&Decide features, images where created directly into drive H; and (2) now I am using the computer with disk 1 (partitions C and D) only, and after this happened every time I boot I see a message (on the black screen, before starting Windows) that reads: "MBR Error 2". I trust I covered all the information needed to clearly analyze the problem. If something is missing and you are willing to help me, please just let me know and I'll do my best to provide it immediately. If you are not sure of a solution but know or have an idea of where to look for it, please also let me know. Thank you.

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What does your BIOS show for hard drive configuration?

Also, if this is a fried drive (which it looks like), the data can only be retrieved by data recovery specialists with specialized equipment. Search for “data recovery hard drive” or the like and you’ll see a list of places that can do this. Just a warning- it can be a fairly pricey procedure.

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After testing the drive and found failed to function, I don’t think that there would be a possible solution for that case, it is because the damage is on the hardware part of the hard disk drive. This is the importance of considering the importance of backing up files from your hard disk drive regularly.

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  • Spj
    How do I find that out?
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  • Docutechdoug
    Wow, that's quite the situation you've got there. Here's my suggestion. Download and burn an .iso of Knoppix. (I, personally, trust getting Linux .isos from distrowatch.com.) Boot the computer from that Knoppix live CD. It won't write to any hard drives without you actually telling it that it can, so the data will be safe. If the data is still readable at all, Knoppix will likely be able to see the files. Then you can copy them to another hard drive, such as an external USB drive. My motto is generally "if Knoppix can't see the data, it's gone." Whether I'm right or wrong about that, Knoppix (and other Linux liveCD distros) have saved my hide a number of times. It's worth a shot, and won't cost much more than your time (and the cost of a blank CD). Good luck.
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  • Docutechdoug
    Get Knoppix 5.1.1 and the iso that ends in EN (for English). The 5.3.1 version is DVD-sized, and too big for a CD.
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  • Spj
    Thank you, Docutechdoug, your advice makes sense to me. Looks 100% safe too. Just one question, and I hope you'll excuse my ignorance, you mention a "Linux CD", but my OS is Windows. Can I still use a Linux CD and will it work properly even if I am running Windows? Thanks again.
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  • Docutechdoug
    Yes, it should work fine, because your computer will be running the Linux OS from the CD instead of running Windows. You're just using it to get the files and copy them somewhere else. Windows can't see them right now, but maybe Linux can. Load the Knoppix CD, then reboot your computer. As it's booting, you might need to hit Delete or one of the function keys (like F2 or F12) to adjust the boot order so it boots from the CD first and not the hard drive. That's where to find the BIOS settings mentioned earlier. It'll take maybe up to five minutes (appx) to load the OS from the CD, but then you should see icons on the desktop you can open to examine the drive contents. You'll get a little bit of a Linux education, as the drives may be referred to as /hda1 or /sda2 or something other than E: or H:. You'll kind of have to figure out from the contents and the drive sizes exactly which ones they are. You might even want to disconnect other drives and just do one at a time to avoid confusion. If that doesn't happen to work for you, I've also had good luck in Windows with http://www.pcinspector.de.
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  • Spj
    I'll give it a shot as soon as I get a new disk that I ordered to copy the contents of the damaged one. Thank you again, Docutechdoug spj
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  • Dellray
    I would think that Spinrite could help you with your verification of your HDD. It did wonder for me. As far as the UPS, I know that there is some parameters to set for low and hi voltage. Maybe your UPS let some bad spike got throught.
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