The other day I rebooted my laptop and found I was unable to log back in or even boot my regular (HDD installed) OS.

Now I'm getting the following error at boot-time/startup:

SMART Failure Predicted on Hard Disk 4: TOSHIBA MK5059GSXP-(S1)

WARNING: Immediately back-up your data and replace your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminent.

Press F1 to Continue

What can I do to fix the drive? I really only need to get it working long enough to backup some files. Then I can just ditch it, and replace it.

migrated from unix.stackexchange.com Oct 8 '16 at 23:26

This question came from our site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.

  • What happens when pressing F1? – rudimeier Oct 7 '16 at 23:42
  • @rudimeier Well it depends on the BIOS. Typically it will just try again to boot the OS from the HDD. Or it will check for USB devices, etc. – tjt263 Oct 8 '16 at 0:16
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    Do you have another computer where you could connect that HDD? That way you would not have to boot from that HDD, you'd just copy the files. – Alexis Wilke Oct 8 '16 at 0:24
  • Does the drive "clonk" or tick weirdly at startup ? If yes its a mechanical problem and your run-time will be short if you get it working at all. Don't waste time if you do get it working. – Criggie Oct 8 '16 at 2:03
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    @Criggie Actually, no this one doesn't make any noise. I have another failing HDD in a newer laptop that makes a ticking sound but it doesn't display the SMART Failure warning. – tjt263 Oct 8 '16 at 13:11

Your hard drive's on-board controller is reporting that it is failing.

If the computer is new enough to be under warranty then the drive replacement should be free. Labour costs may be charged, depending on the supplier.

HOWEVER the contents of your hard drive are not under warranty, so your only options are

1) Check out what backups you already have. Could be the files you want are on another device. Check your phone, tablet, email inbox and sent items, pen/flash drives, external drives, your previous computer, work/school computers.

2) Sounds like the drive is incapable of starting up. You might be able to remove it from computer and attach to a USB/SATA adapter, something like this:

enter image description here

... then use another computer. The drive might work for long enough to read the files you want. If it does start up, time is critical so don't delay. Copy the most needed files first, then go back and read off anything else you might want.

You might be able to read the disk but not the filesystem, and a fsck might not fix it. Other tools like photorec and ddrescue are available, but your time window is limited. Don't waste it.

3) If the drive is dead/dead then you might choose to use the services of a data recovery company. Note that there are no guarantees, but they should be able to recover some of your data. Downside is that there's a non-zero cost for this kind of work

4) Suck it up. You've just learned personally why backups are a good idea. Take this as one of life's lessons, and carry on. In the future, set up backups as a priority.

Regardless, this drive is probably unusable in the future. You will need to buy or get a replacement for your laptop.

  • Yes, I have one of those. I was actually about to try it when I posted the question but realized both laptops have problematic drives. Maybe I could try with an old live copy of Debian I have dd'd onto a small USB drive. – tjt263 Oct 9 '16 at 13:28
  • @tjt263 Too slow. Remember your runtime might be measured in mere minutes, if you get the drive reading at all. – Criggie Oct 9 '16 at 19:43

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