Possible Duplicate:
Recover harddrive data
How to recover data from external hard drive

I have an external hard drive that connects to the PC via USB. Recently it stopped working, when I power it up, it starts reading, then reading, then reading, then reading... I have the impression that it repeatedly tries to find something on the disk and when it doesn't find it after n failed attempts, it gives up.

I tried removing it from the actual casing and connected it directly to the motherboard via SATA but I had the same result.

It is recognized in the BIOS but once Windows starts, it doesn't show up anywhere. I replaced the controller circuit board with no success.

My question is; is it possible to recover data from it by using external software utilities or does it look like this is really an actual hardware failure which can only be fixed when opening up the disk?

marked as duplicate by Linker3000, Nifle, slhck, music2myear, Sathyajith Bhat Oct 4 '11 at 14:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 2 '11 at 2:54

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • 1
    Let this be an important lesson on multiple backups. – Byron Whitlock Oct 2 '11 at 3:10
  • Also a good idea to check the list of related questions (on the right) as this has been covered numerous times – Linker3000 Oct 2 '11 at 8:21
  • @Linker3000 - This question was migrated from SO, the related questions would not have shown up there. – Nifle Oct 2 '11 at 9:46
  • If you can, connect it directly to a motherboard of a desktop PC, if the bios does not recognize it, it is hosed and will need professional recovery methods. – Moab Oct 2 '11 at 15:04

If its recognised by the bios but not the system, its likely to be a data issue, as opposed to a hardware issue.

You can probably check if the drive is detected by gsmartcontrol - this should also give you a rough idea if the hard drive is fine.

Ideally i'd suggest booting off a live cd and making an image with a rescue oriented dd varient. In most cases i'd check if the drive can be read by another os (linux can often read faulty NTFS drives which windows can't if it is an NTFS drive do this first. this can save a LOT OF TIME.), run testdisk to try to retrive the partition if not, recover data, and optionally run a full format if the disk is otherwise fine.

for other options see this question- its not the same, but similar


If you can get the drive to show up in windows you can try software called file scavenger. I believe if you can find the older versions they are free.

I successfully recovered all data off a hdd that I could not get to boot or browse it took almost 6 hours to browse the drive.

Some files can remain corrupted, also the newer versions also have a free version but only recovers a certain portion of your data.

I have a few questions and answers regarding this sort of topic in my profile as well if yoiu want some more info