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A portable external hard drive was dropped a couple of days ago by someone I know. It is a 320 gb seagate 2.5 inch usb 2.0 hdd. If you plug it into windows it shows up in the disk manager as a "raw disk" even though it is ntfs formated, but doesn't show up in the "computer window". In linux, if I sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt I get an IO error after a long time. However, if I take a hexdump of /dev/sdb1 I see some data getting dumped. Is there a way to maybe dd the drive to another drive, then run testdisk to repair the filesystem? or is it better to just call the "professionals"

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Buy a new drive and restore from backup. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 15 '13 at 2:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Probably the "gold standard" for this kind of recovery - if Linux is available to you - is to use Gnu DDRescue to make a bit copy of the drive - it will take a long time, but it will pull of as much data from the drive as possible. (You may want to stop it part way through when it starts throwing up IO errors and run it from the end of the disk to get as much as you can in the first parse). Then let it run for the days/weeks until you are tired of it trying to copy every last bit, or it finishes. (The nice thing about it is you can start and stop the copying and resume from more-or-less where you left off).

You can then take the image and mirror it back into a new drive (but watch you use a drive which is not "Advanced Format" drive or it will cause you issues). You can then attempt repair / recovery off the drive. [ There are other alternatives like copying it and mounting as a loopback image etc, but I'd advise always working on a COPY of the image file DDRescue creates, so you can try again if your attempt fails and corrupts the fs further ]

Oh, and its free (just make sure you get the GNU DDRescue - I have come across another variant which did not work as well).

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Your only hope is one of the data recovery outfits. It won't be cheap, and they can't guarantee anything.

Better write the disk (and data) off.

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A program like Norton Ghost will copy as much data as possible to a good HDD. Most PC repair shops use something like this. In a pinch, you could try a program like Recuva.

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will dd do this job too? – agz Apr 15 '13 at 3:38
Yes, DD does what Norton Ghost does. I would try that first. – Andrew Prentice Apr 15 '13 at 11:35

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