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My desktop's motherboard recently died and I decided to salvage its 2 500GB HDDs while I save up for a new mobo. I bought a docking station to use with my laptop. One HDD works flawlessly; however the other won't. It showed up in Disk Management as "invalid" but it wouldn't show up at all in My Computer. I did a bit of research and I found out you could trick Windows into recognizing the drive by using HXD (a hex editor) to change the HDD's status from dynamic to basic.

It worked. Somewhat. It showed up in My Computer but it said it needed to be formatted. Of course I declined, I really need the data on the broken HDD. (Years worth of pics and videos, my bad for not having a backup) I used testdisk to check if I could recover the partitions. it said it could recover all the partitions EXCEPT for the one with the photos on it.

Is there anyway to recover the data, short of going to a data recovery service?

Many thanks! :D

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Under disc management, can you just try to change the Drive value - this may let you view the hard drive as normal? – Dave Aug 13 '12 at 14:46
Why was your disk a dynamic disk to begin with? Are you sure that it was dynamic, or are you just following a tutorial without knowing whether or not it ever was dynamic? If it WAS dynamic, were you using any sort of RAID? Striping, mirroring, etc? Or encryption? – allquixotic Aug 13 '12 at 14:48
I'm pretty sure it was dynamic. I remember using Disk Management and seeing that it was dynamic before my desktop broke down. – Kenny Aug 13 '12 at 15:01
And I didn't use any RAID or encryption at all. It was just a simple plain HDD. – Kenny Aug 13 '12 at 15:05
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Is there anyway to recover the data, short of going to a data recovery service

That depends on what is broken, but first stop trying to rescue the data.

Depending on what is broken your recovery attempt might worsen the changes of rescueing anything. So if you really need the data on that hard disk contact a data recovery service. Their prices are high.

If it is stuff you just like to recover (but it is not the end of the world if you loose the data), then try to make a copy of the drive. If it is merely a logical problem (e.g. corrupt MBR, filesystem messed up etc) then you can always go back to the point you are now at. If that backup succeeds then you also know it is not a hardware problem.

There are several programs which can do that for you. Personally I would use dd_rescue, but it mostly comes down to which program and OS you are most used to.

Only after this try 'massaging' the drive and recovering its contents.

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Thank you! By making a copy of the drive I assume you mean making a disk image? – Kenny Aug 13 '12 at 14:57
Yes, a raw image of the entire drive (to a 500GB file, so you would need another drive to store that). You can do this with various programs. Free ones include dd (unix, will have problems with read errors on the drive) dd_recue (same, specifically modified to avoid read errors), cat or copy on the raw device (also unix), some windows tool (no idea which ones are out there), or a raw image using ghost or acronis. (note: RAW, it will not just copy used files, use compression and generate a small file). You will end up with a 500GB file. Preferable two 500GB files (one copy, one working cp) – Hennes Aug 13 '12 at 15:07
Thanks! But unfortunately I don't have 500GB worth of free space. Is there any other way or is it time to shelf the HDD for now and save up for data recovery? – Kenny Aug 13 '12 at 15:11
You can just run recovery programs on the raw disk. But if that fails you might end up in a worse state than you are in now. That is where the backup files come in. The keyword here is "might". Only you know how important your data is, and how much risk you are willing to take. (to be fair, photorec etc. have a decent chance of working fine. But not 100%.) – Hennes Aug 13 '12 at 15:16
I see. Is it possible for me to recover the recoverable partitions and direct Photorec to only recover from the unrecoverable ones? – Kenny Aug 13 '12 at 15:18

To begin with, proceed with caution. You don't want to write anything at all to this disk if you want to keep everything.

Photorec is a great little program for this scenario. It will dump everything it can find on to another drive. Names of files might be garbled or useless, and directory structure and folder names will be lost, but at least everything will be there. You will just have to sift through Gbs worth of files. In my experience it did fairly will with keeping extensions at least.

NTFSUndeleteAll, and other similar Linux programs, might help here too. It might not hurt to take a good image of the disk that includes free space, but you will need some larger storage for that.

I would personally recommend running Photorec first, then messing with the drive to see if you can get it to work as normal. I'd hate for one of your attempts to ruin your pictures. It would be ideal to take a full image of the drive first, run Photorec, and then attempt to recover the drive in Windows for the sake of convenience.

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Is it possible for me to first fix the recoverable partitions in Testdisk and use Photorec to only recover from the unrecoverable partitions? I'd hate to go through 500GB worth of files. (plus I dont have space to store 500GB of recovered files) :) – Kenny Aug 13 '12 at 15:04
+1 for photorec. That little handy program helped me on saving a whole project's documentation which I accidentally deleted. Ran flawlessly and even recovered old versions of documents. As long as disk haven't got used, it works great! – Alfabravo Aug 13 '12 at 15:05

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