Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It seems my main disk was dying and eventually, Windows displayed a message to immediately reboot into recovery, make a full backup and replace the HDD.

I turned the computer off and plugged the HDD into another computer. I was able to still see the disk and navigate the file structure on both partitions (I had one for the OS and another for Data). I actually didn't try to open any file, I just browsed a few files to see if I was able to at least see what was in there.

I then downloaded and booted up SeaTools. I first ran the short test, it failed immediately. The HDD was definitely dying... I then ran the long test through the night to see if it could mark all the bad sectors so that I could copy everything else to another drive.

It showed a lot of errors and attempted to repair a lot of them but I think it only made the problem worse. Because now I can't even browser the files. Actually, Windows (on the other computer, of course) takes ages to boot with this dying disk connected. It boots quickly if it's not connected.

I first tried a Live CD of Linux Mint and it also failed to boot. I then tried a Live CD based on Knoppix and I was now able to boot, but couldn't do anything. The HDD does not appear for me to browse (other HDDs do) and all tools available report lots of I/O errors, damaged partition table and boot sectors, etc...

It's not the end of the world if I'm not able to access the data on this particular HDD, my important data was backed up on another disk. But it would be nice if I could still copy some data off of it, or at least try to browse the file system and see what was there.

Any ideas on how can I fix this since I was able to browse the HDD before running the SeaTools long test?

share|improve this question
Well, if you could tell what model the drive was it could help, but if it marked a lot of bad sectors, and it says the partition table is damaged, I doubt tools like Recuva can even read the inlaid data. Best bet is to take to a specialist but try to backup a image of the disk before doing anything to it. – Doktoro Reichard Aug 24 '13 at 15:52
I appreciate your help but I think you and the other 2 responses below are completely missing the point. The long test with the SeaTools software did something to the disk that made it "unreadable". Until I revert that (if that's even possible, but that's exactly what I'm trying to find out with this question), I don't believe any kind of recovery software is going to help. – Ricardo Amaral Aug 24 '13 at 17:50
By "unreadable" you mean you can't even access the partition/disk? SeaTools, by your description, just did what CHKDSK does on a regular basis, that is to flag damaged sectors. Damaged sectors are, by definition damaged and any data on those sectors is not reliable. The first two suggestions of @spuder are actually good, if you can access the partition. – Doktoro Reichard Aug 24 '13 at 18:37
Yes, I can't access it. For some reason, it is detected in the BIOS and it also detected by the tools in the Live CD I mentioned, but it fails to do anything else. But that's the thing, I can't seem to access the partitions, so I can't use typical recovery software. I'll have to try RIPLinux though... – Ricardo Amaral Aug 24 '13 at 22:54
Maybe running CHKDSK may fix the partition table, but first backup the data. Can Gparted recognize the drive? – Doktoro Reichard Aug 24 '13 at 23:14

Professional data recovery services are >$1000 if you have that kind of money go for it.

Try either spinrite ( or mhdd Either one will take a really long time, but are the best tools I have come across so far. They actually try to recover lost data.

Spinrite can run continuously for a month or more depending on how bad the disk is.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.