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I have an HP server with a two-year-old 174 GB hard disk. Suddenly, the server cannot boot from hard disk. The drive makes noises (tic tic tic) and the server says the hard drive should be replaced.

I opened the front cover of the server and noticed the red LED of the hard disk is illuminated.

That hard disk holds very important data. Is there any way to recover the data from it?

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Restore the backup to a new drive. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 6 '13 at 11:57
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Do never safe important data on only one disk, you have to have at least one backup (RAID doesn't count as a backup solution, if the controller fails and can't be replaced your done, if some buggy creepy hardware-bug creeps up your done, and so on...) –  Quonux Apr 6 '13 at 12:06
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I don't mean to sound cruel, but whoever chose to not spend $100 on a cheap backup disk has declared that the data was not worth even that much. That said, I have seen these guys (for much more than $100) recover disks that were deader than dead. krollontrack.com –  lserni Apr 6 '13 at 13:06
    
If it is any consolation, I don't think you need worry about regaining access to your data - but will have to be patient while someone else does so. –  pnuts Apr 6 '13 at 13:28
    
possible duplicate of Recover hard disk data? –  Mokubai Apr 6 '13 at 13:58
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3 Answers

The "tic tic tic" is most likely the actuator arm (or what controls it) has failed. The best and safest thing to do at this point is to send the drive to a hard drive recovery specialist. This is especially true if the data is truly as important as you say it is. There is no point in risking damaging the drive, and subsequently the data, even more using "tricks" that have been known (or not) to recover a hard drive.

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The lost head , probably the worst and most complete fail of a hard drive I have ever seen (once). I think others have seen it happen before too, because any excessive head seeking or a hard drive that does any ticking, puts the frantic fear of lost data into them. When it is fully unrecoverable using desktop methods, you turn it on and you can hear the head moving back and forth again and again, but no data ever found. –  Psycogeek Apr 6 '13 at 12:11
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While it does not always work I have had sucess placing the drive in a freezer for at least a few hours. Sometines a few days helps. Place the drive in a Ziplock type bag and remove as much air as possible. Place the bag and drive in a freezer and leave it for at least a few hours.

Remove the drive from the bag and get it in the server as quckly as possible and start the server.

It has sometimes worked after a few hours but it once took a couple of days, but I was able to recover data from several drives this way. Unfortunately, not always.

Then it is time to send to an expert drive recovery company.

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You could as a last resort try

http://www.dtidata.com/resourcecenter/2011/03/18/failing-hard-drives-and-the-freezer-technique-revisited/

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Not going to work if the problem is either failure to recalibrate or arm failure. This can work with drives that get "stuck" and no longer spin-up due to spindle failure, but you wouldn't get a "tick tick" sound in that case. –  lserni Apr 6 '13 at 12:58
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at the least this forces internal thermal calibrations to re-occur, thermal recalibrations are used because of expansion and contraction of the platter size (by less than microns) the picture there has to be the worst example of it :-) Because drives should be sealed up before freezing. drives have tiny filtered air holes, and moisture ingress would make matters worse. The method was more usefull when thermal recalibration was "different" than it is on todays drives. –  Psycogeek Apr 6 '13 at 13:11
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