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Apologies in advance for the long story, but I didn't want to miss anything.

I had 2 HDDs, one 2TB with two partitions for OS and data respectively, one 3TB for data only. The one with OS became incredibly slow (to the extent of being completely unusable - boot up took well over 10 minutes) after a power cut, so I formatted the OS partition and reinstalled it. CrystalDiskInfo showed some pending sectors, so I ran CHKDSK /R, which found no problem, but the system started to hang for a few seconds in every 30 minutes or so. At that point, I moved the data from the second HDD (it was fairly empty) to the first one (yes, now I know I'm officially an idiot), so I could install OS on the second HDD.

I then managed to move part of the data from the corrupted disk to the healthy one, but some kind of I/O error message showed up for a file. I ran CHKDSK /X /B, this time on the data partition. It started to repair bad clusters, succeeded for a few files, then the command line got stuck for a few days and today it ended with the message that it ran out of free space. As it unmounted the partition in the process, I thought a restart might help.

The result is that the PC either gets stuck during boot up with the corrupted disk connected or it boots up fine, but without recognizing the corrupted disk both in BIOS and in Windows. When I connect the SATA cable to it after boot up, the Device Manager recognizes it and a 100MB system partition shows up in My Computer and is accessible. The main partitions also show up, but I can't access them and the HDD activity LED is on for ages.

I suspect every single step I made was wrong and you can call me whatever you wish, but do you have any ideas how can I recover my data?

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If the bad disk is still recognized by the computer and not freezing dead when it starts hitting bad sector, you can connect it and a good empty disk of at least the same capacity to a linux machine and use ddrescue to do a sector-by-sector copy. Just be very very carefull with ddrescue to give the correct source and destination drive.

If that does not work, there are data recovery companies that have the tools to take apart a defective drive, move the spindles to another one and recover whatever is still readable.

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You can use a program like PhotoRec to attempt to recover the data. (Despite the name, it tries to recover everything, not just photos.)

Do not do anything which is likely to write to the disk you are attempting to recover from. You really want to attach it to another computer if you can, or use something like Hiren's BootCD which has PhotoRec on it.

I suggest keeping the disk drive cool while you are doing that - a desk fan blowing onto it will easily be sufficient. Be prepared for it to take many hours, maybe a couple of days.

You are in for quite a bit of reading of instructions, but it will be worthwhile if you get your data back - you are likely to get at least most of it.

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  • PhotoRec unfortunately gets stuck at disk identification. Before that, I also tried GetDataBack, which recognized it, but only returned an endless list of Error 55 messages while scanning. – XOC Feb 5 '15 at 10:00

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