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I've experienced HDD failures a few times already... Usually, my system was first starting behaving strange, or was even becoming inoperational, then I was doing a full HDD scan, which was reporting a bunch of damaged sectors; so I was simply removing the misbehaving HDD from this laptop or PC, plugging it to another working laptop or PC via USB and copying whatever data could be salvaged... up to now I was always able to recover the vast majority of data from a failing HDD.

But this time, it's another story. My HDD started freaking clicking with no prior warnings in the middle of the work. The system froze and the laptop become unbootable - each time I power my laptop on the HDD starts clicking again. I can still boot my laptop from a Linux LiveUSB; but I cannot access this HDD from there. (by conventional means at least; not sure if there's any wizard way to do so)

I do backup my data - monthly. And...I did the last backup almost a month ago. Loosing a month of work is...well... not nice.

Is there any hope of recovering data from this HDD or should I just accept that this data is lost for good?

EDIT: This is crazy... but it just come to my mind... The HDD started clicking while I was operating Windows... Is it remotely possible that Windows decided to install updates in the background as it usually does - and so it installed some buggy HDD firmware updates - which killed the drive?

marked as duplicate by Moab, bertieb, Anaksunaman, I say Reinstate Monica, Jon Apr 26 '18 at 5:44

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  • 2
    HDDs can fail all of a sudden, without warning and without any "abuse". Even daily backups can be worrisome depending on how much happens in a day. After the dust settles, you might modify your setup to simply mitigate drive failure. Either local non-OS RAID, NAS, or some sort of syncing/cloud setup. Your backups are still #1 need because most data problems are not HDD failures, but if you have the capability, it could be worth your while. You're awesome for having a consistent backup regimen at all! Go you! – Damon Apr 23 '18 at 6:04
  • Loosing a month of work...I know this doesn't help with your present dilemma, but the frequency of your backups needs to take into account how much work you're willing to lose. Data recovery is always a last resort--one that (painfully) comes without any guarantees. – I say Reinstate Monica Apr 25 '18 at 16:21

Is it likely that some process killed the drive? No. At least, not through updating drivers for the drive itself, as the drive does not have any. Its plug and play.

A drive will wear out, its as simple as that. Usually S.M.A.R.T. will detect these errors, and give you heads up before the drive goes into a fatal state.

Sometimes S.M.A.R.T. does not detect them, but minor problems with bad sectors let you know the drive is starting to fail, and Windows detects it.

But yes, there are also those instances when a drive just out of the blue will fail.

Is the data completely gone? No. But when a drive is clicking, it requires special skills.

There are techniques that descibe freezing the drive for 2 hours or more, to give you about 30 minutes of access time, possibly left, to copy the most important files off the drive, but its tricky and success is never guaranteed.

But there are companies specialized in retrieving data from drives that failed like this, or worse. They will definitely be able to restore your data, but they cost a lot of money to do so. It really comes down to: how much is the data worth?

Also, you may want to consider doing backups more often or a different approach for the most sensitive data. Not everything is equally important, and should be backupped differently according to how important it is.

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