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I got a bad ide harddisk from my friend, and he wants to save the data in the bad harddisk.

I can see the drives of the harddisk when I first connected it. Then I tried to copy the files from the harddisk to my intact harddisk, it end up with some kind of error - files cannot be copied because of bad sector.

I am hopeless, so I searched the internet and got a software called SeaTools for windows. Executed it. It said "Scanning hard drives, please wait..." for a minute and pop up an error. I confirmed the error then the software went off.

Then I reboot my pc and I cannot find the harddisk anymore. Bios cannot find it, windows cannot find it.

My Motherboard is okay, ide cable and ide slot on motherboard is okay.

And I think the power is okay too. There is no sound/vibration from the spinning of the harddisk, but when I touch on of the chips on the harddisk( yes, the chips is exposed) and it is hot, indicating some kind of activity.

Any idea? Is the harddisk dead?

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Put Hard Drive in a baggie and place it in the freezer for 1/2 hour, try recovering data again. – Moab Jun 11 '11 at 16:44
I tried and it didn't work. I gave up. – lamwaiman1988 Jun 12 '11 at 5:16
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Actually, if the chip is hot enough for you to say it’s “hot”, and not just “warm” when you touch it, and if the platter is not even spinning, then (for all intents and purposes) it is indeed most likely dead. Maybe the circuit board has short-circuited or burned out or something, and now the platters won’t spin; that would also explain why the system cannot detect the drive.

At this point, the drive is likely dead enough that you don’t really have much more to lose, so you may want to try freezing it. I’ve read quite a few stories of people (with mixed results) who have been able to get a dead drive working for long enough to extract their files. Other methods include heating it with a blow dryer or jarring it somehow, usually in an attempt to get a stuck platter to start spinning again.

Of course it depends on exactly what the problem is (often a stuck platter), and in your case, if a chip or other component on the board has burned out, then freezing it may (probably?) won’t help.

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If I want to try the freeze method, should I prepare some disk image software? – lamwaiman1988 Jun 11 '11 at 16:55
Well, if freezing it does work at all, then you’ll need to move as fast as possible since as you use it, it heats up and stops working again. So yes, you’ll want to make sure that you set things up before-hand so that you can quickly pop the drive in, turn on, boot up (turn off ALL other startup software, or use a non-Windows recovery software, ie recovery boot-disk), then extract your stuff in decreasing order of importance, and go while you can. Some people have offered that you can repeat the freezing process, though it seems that it becomes less and less effective over time. – Synetech Jun 11 '11 at 17:28
If this works, keep the case open and drive exposed, and have a few cans of compressed air handy so you can spray the drive as you are imaging it. The air is very cold, and will hopefully keep the drive going for a little bit. – KCotreau Jun 11 '11 at 17:43
I’ve even seen someone who put their computer near the freezer, then used a long cable so that they could actually connect the drive and use it while inside the freezer. :-) (I don’t recall how successful it was, but I think he said it allowed him to run it longer.) I would probably just put an ice pack or something under the drive (you have to watch out for condensation though). – Synetech Jun 11 '11 at 17:47
Boot up to windows take minutes! The first trial with 30 minutes freeze doesn't work. – lamwaiman1988 Jun 11 '11 at 18:03

Yes, the hard disk is dead when it can not spin up.

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Unless one of these freeze methods, or other tricks, makes the BIOS see the drive, and it spins up, there will be nothing you can really do other than send it to a data recovery specialty company, which would take the platters out and put them in the exact same drive so it would spin. This can be very expensive. If you attempt to do this on your own, you will almost certainly cause more damage since it is very tricky to do, so don't unless you have no other choice, and have nothing to lose except the cost of another drive to try it with.

If you get it to be seen by the BIOS, try to image it ASAP, and do nothing more. SeaTools on a dying drive was not a good approach.

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Actually, if it is indeed the circuit board, it would be a lot easier and safer to just swap the board with an identical one instead of actually taking the platters out (which is likely to kill them). Unfortunately, that trick worked more in the past than with today’s drives with the much higher areal densities, since the firmware on the board has things like micro-adjustments and stuff specific to the drive (not just the make/model, but each individual drive), which means that even an identical one may not be compatible. – Synetech Jun 11 '11 at 17:46
He clearly has more than circuit board problems though. – KCotreau Jun 12 '11 at 17:07
Actually, it probably is only the board. He said in another question that the drive was working (though he needed to recover data), then it stopped being detected. He also said that one of the chips on the board is hot. It has likely shorted out. – Synetech Jun 13 '11 at 1:14

I think swapping the PCB is something people do if the drive doesn't start up. Requires an identical model or perhaps model with the same chipset PCB.

If it does power up I suggest a USB-IDE adaptor. Bad drives sometimes don't work properly "normally" but are readable through that. You should've used that when you got lucky and had it power up.

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i was thinking the same thing - but now you're shelling out good money to destroy a perfectly good hard drive. Now you have to decide how much you really want that data. – Ian Boyd Jun 12 '11 at 0:00
@Ian Boyd obviously but that's his decision. I don't need to tell anybody that to buy a hard drive costs money. They'd find out when they try to buy one, if they don't know already. And he knows obviously. It's also not guaranteed to work either. But maybe fun or a good learning experience to try as he would know too. There's the option mentioned by others of data recovery center. These options have some obvious non-technical adv/dis like cost and risk. Again obvious. A data recovery pro is less risk, best chance of data back, and more cost. – barlop Jun 12 '11 at 0:11

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