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I bought a NexStar SAT/IDE to USB3.0 adapter 2 months ago to recover an old Dell EIDE hard drive. The hard drive engaged with the adapter 2 months ago and I was able to view the files on it. However, as of today, my computer can detect the adapter in the USB2.0 slot, but I cannot access the data on the hard drive no matter what I tried. Is this more likely to be the adapter’s problem or the hard drive’s problem?

Just want to let you know that I have previously spilled water accidentally on that laptop. All the USB and PCMCIA card slots are fried, hence I cannot recover the data from the hard drive with those methods. Do you think this is a case where I need to take the hard drive to a store to recover it?

Thanks in advance!

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Try a known working drive with the adapter (assuring that it's backed up first) and see if that works. If it does, the adapter is fine. – user3463 May 6 '12 at 22:34
I have run across newer adapters that do not work with older ide drives, I keep an older desktop PC around just for this reason, connect hard drive directly to the motherboard, which rules out any usb converter compatibility issues. If it is not recognized properly in the bios then you know it has real problems. – Moab May 7 '12 at 3:24
up vote 1 down vote accepted

As was pointed out, if a known good hard drive doesn't work with the same adapter, then you can safely assume the hard drive has completely kicked the bucket. Unfortunately, taking it to a store at this point will most likely result in you paying a diagnostic fee, but not getting any data recovered. Why? Because at this point a shop will be attempting essentially the same thing you will be attempting.

This is not to say that the data is unrecoverable. However, once a drive gets this bad, your options are limited to sending the drive to a viable data recovery center.

At a data recovery center, they can use specialized equipment like this PC-3000 card which goes for a few thousand dollars US. That particular card enables the firmware chip on a hard drive to be reprogrammed or copied, which can enable them to take a similar hard drive control board and copy your drive's firmware onto the new board... which then facilitates a swap of the bad control board for a now exact copy. Of course, the PC-3000 is only useful for issues that related to problems with the control board. A data recovery center will also be equipped with a clean room (dust free) where they can take your drive apart, remove the platens and put them inside a new casing with a new control board. The smallest amount of dust in the wrong place on the surface of a platen can render a drive unreadable.

At any rate, the specialized equipment necessary to recover drives that cannot be accessed is very expensive, and this can make the process of recovering an otherwise dead drive very expensive. So... what does this mean?

It means take it to the shop, and be ready to pay a little money for them to tell you they can't do anything... and then if you really need the data, be ready to pay 2 to 5 times what it would cost to replace the drive to get the data recovered at a recovery center.

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