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I've got a Toshiba Satellite (unknown model number but bought early 2010) running Windows Vista which throws a kernel error on boot. We don't have the restore/recovery CD any more to restore the Windows partition.

I have managed to boot to a Live CD version of Ubuntu 10.10 and have mounted the internal hard drive (which takes nearly 8 minutes). I suspect that the hard drive is malfunctioning, however, because copy tasks of even 30 megs of data to an attached and mounted USB flash drive takes over an hour, and some files are mysteriously inaccessible (not a permissions issue). When browsing folders, it takes many minutes to populate the folder window even with a single tiny file. During the copy tasks, the hard disk sounds like it tries to sleep several times in rapid succession, then continues accessing, it sounds, at full throughput.

I initially tried using scp (from the shell) to copy data but I encountered the same local problems. I don't know the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard disk, either.

Is there a more effective way of going about recovering the data on the internal disk, assuming that I can't use a recovery CD and am too cheap to bring it in (for now, at least)?

EDIT: I'm sorry that I had to pick a single answer. For those reading this as an archive, they're all good, so take all the advice you can from them. Thanks!

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I would copy off the data that you can using Ubuntu, do this first before the drive fails completely, then move on to other methods. –  Moab Feb 27 '11 at 1:58
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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

@msanford

I would stop doing any writing to the drive asap. It sounds like the drive is failing to spin. If the arms are crashing they may scratch the surface of the platers and you can kiss your drive goodbye. No data recovery expert will be able to recover data off scratched platers.

You should start by mounting the drive as a non-root drive with a 2.5 drive ata connector. BY mounting it as a non-root or operating system drive you take the strain off it. The connector will help you connect the drive in a desktop pc or an external USB case if you have one. I have thrown in a link to a page which shows the 2.5 ata connector. (http://techreport.com/articles.x/9859/1)

Next you should grab a program called "R-Studio". Use your imagination if you dont want to pay for it. This program reads all types of file systems, runs from windows or linux and is very powerful in its deep analysis of the drive. It is also very soft on the drive in its checks. The tool is a data recovery tool. Once it has done its analysis, it will then show you a list of files and allow you to copy them off to another drive. I have tried many programs, but for your instance, I think this program will suit best. Its very easy to use also.

It is important that you stop writing to the drive however. Do not format, do not write. The more you do the more likely you will loose more data. If the drive completely fails, electrically, all is not lost, you are able to send to a data recovery expert. They can fix the drives. When I say fix, it means only to fix to recover data.

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I can recommend hiren's boot cd - it's full of fantastic tools for data recovery and disk testing.

http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd

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If your data is important, invest in software to attempt to heal the drive enough to copy off more data. .

Spinrite

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That's what I've been doing. However, the drive seems to be failing, so I was curious if there was some other way I might be able to copy more efficiently: something akin to Apple's firewire tethering. –  msanford Feb 27 '11 at 5:09
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I don't think it matters how you connect the drive, the drive is failing so get what you can while it is connected and still alive. –  Moab Feb 27 '11 at 15:45
    
That's a good point. And too bad I can't +2 for Spinrite, it's legendary in data recovery… –  msanford Feb 27 '11 at 16:58
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