I have a Seagate laptop disk that I need to recover some data from it (photos), the problem is that I have some error reading problems (bad sectors). I've tried running testdisk with a quick search, it finds the partitions (2 of them) but the one that contains the data it says that broken filesystem or no files.

Is it worth it to do a deeper search? I am asking because with the broken sectors it is going to take la 3 days to do it (200gb)

Any other solutions?


If your Linux command-line fu is strong, try using ddrescue to make a backup image of your hard disk, then use foremost to extract the photos (JPGs, I assume?)

From experience, I can say that this is a remarkably effective approach to use on failing drives if your objective is to recover the types of files that Foremost can recognise, including photos, movies, music, and Office documents.

ddrescue is special because it was designed specifically to read flaky disks. Regular dd will stop dead when it encounters errors; ddrescue shrugs, marks the bad sector to be tried again later, and moves on.

GNU ddrescue is a data recovery tool. It copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, cdrom, etc) to another, trying hard to rescue data in case of read errors.

foremost is special because it does not rely on the filesystem at all. Your partition table or filesystem structures could be completely trashed, yet foremost will still recover (many of) your files.

Foremost is a console program to recover files based on their headers, footers, and internal data structures. This process is commonly referred to as data carving. Foremost can work on image files, such as those generated by dd, Safeback, Encase, etc, or directly on a drive. The headers and footers can be specified by a configuration file or you can use command line switches to specify built-in file types. These built-in types look at the data structures of a given file format allowing for a more reliable and faster recovery.

Other alternatives are PhotoRec which runs on Windows, though I'm not sure how well it will do in the face of disk errors, and GetDataBack which is paid software.

  • I had never heard of foresmost before, I will give it a try. I had tried ddrescue but it had failed, don't know why. I will try it again – w0rldart Feb 28 '12 at 17:55
  • @w0rldart Just remember dd_rescue != ddrescue. Try using both, with various options, to recover as much as possible. It doesn't have to be (and is unlikely to be) a 100% correct image, but 99% of it should be good. – Li-aung Yip Feb 29 '12 at 1:06
  • interesting, I thought they're both the same... I will do a research and see what info I can find. Tnx – w0rldart Feb 29 '12 at 1:17

I've had the same problem a while ago and I can recommend hdd regenerator. Hdd regenerator claims to physically regenerate the bad sectors before you try to rescue it with programs like testdisk. There are a couple of hdd regenerator programs. I would give it a try. Maybe you can make a backup of your hard disk with dd before using hdd regenerator. Spinrite looks also promising: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums//lofiversion/index.php/t19129.html.

Then there is Spinrite, the original HDD sector recovery software, more expensive but they are offering a free upgrade to the newer version which is being released sometime in 2012.

  • tnx for the info, I'll give it a try to the hdd regenerator... I've tried dd_rescue but it blocked after a while, I will try it again – w0rldart Feb 28 '12 at 11:07
  • @w0rldart: Spinrite looks also promising. IMO good advertising. – Gigamegs Feb 28 '12 at 11:59
  • @w0rldart: have you tried ddrescue? (Note: unrelated to dd_rescue apart from the name.) – Li-aung Yip Feb 28 '12 at 17:02

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