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Old 09-05-10, 12:31 AM   #1
BengeBoy 
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Geeks, please: quick hard disk data recovery question

OK, I should know better, since I've had a number of hard drive crashes in my life, but I had a PC die today and need to get some data off the hard drive.

Here's the deal --

-- one of my pc's refused to boot up today. I kept getting a "blue screen" boot error, and was unable to boot up either the regular way or through safe mode, nor could I reboot to a restore point.

-- luckily, I had already purchased a new PC, so I got it up and running, and I found most of my files on an external hard drive that I had most of my *old* files.

-- however, since I'm lazy and stupid, I don't have *any* files backed up since February, nor did I back up my email files. That's that I want to find -- the files I hadn't backed up from the past few months, plus the email file.

I am pretty sure the hard drive from the computer that failed is still in good shape and all the data is there.

Rather than send it to a $$$$ data recovery service, I am wondering if I can just get a cheap external hard drive enclosure, set the old hard drive up inside of it (set up as a slave, right?) and then pull the data from it?

Won't the hard drive still function OK, even if the hard drive refused to boot up the computer it was installed in? (I was getting an error message about a BIOS error, though I can't remember the details now...).

Thanks in advance for your help.


Bike related content: I missed getting a ride in today because I was screwing around with PC's all afternoon.
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Old 09-05-10, 12:53 AM   #2
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Please stay away from any kind of data recovery services for now. Open the dead PC and take the HD out. Then go to any best buy, circuit city or alike, and ask for a usb adapter (or enclosure) for your drive. Come back, plug into new PC, copy & paste.
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Old 09-05-10, 03:48 AM   #3
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Even easier, is to just take the old hard-drive out and plug it into the motherboard of the new computer.

If it's an PATA drive, you can still plug it into the ATA cable for the DVD-drive of the new machine. Make HD master, DVD slave (there's most likely two connectors on the ribbon cable).

If it's a SATA drive, get a SATA data-cable and plug it between the drive and a free SATA plug on the motherboard. Extra power-cables should be available off one of the power-supply plugs.

The drive should appear when you boot up the new computer as E: or some such.


If there's data-damage, OnTrack DataRecovery Pro I believe has a demo version you can use to see if the data on the drive is recoverable. I've used it to retrieve data from a drive that had been reformatted with a new copy of Windows installed on top of it!

And be sure to scan both drives thoroughly with a decent virus scanner. I like Kaspersky as it's not a resource hog, is updated often, and catches pretty much everything. Also MalwareBytes is good too. It very well could be a virus that clobbered your previous system and you don't want it creeping over to your new one.
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Old 09-05-10, 04:16 AM   #4
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^ What Dany said... if the drive is OK it would not hurt to keep it as an extra drive on the new machine.... (dedicated data backup perhaps? lol)
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Old 09-05-10, 06:49 AM   #5
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Please stay away from any kind of data recovery services for now. Open the dead PC and take the HD out. Then go to any best buy, circuit city or alike, and ask for a usb adapter (or enclosure) for your drive. Come back, plug into new PC, copy & paste.
Thanks.
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Old 09-05-10, 06:53 AM   #6
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Even easier, is to just take the old hard-drive out and plug it into the motherboard of the new computer. ...
If it's a SATA drive, get a SATA data-cable and plug it between the drive and a free SATA plug on the motherboard. Extra power-cables should be available off one of the power-supply plugs. .
Thanks -- I should have mentioned this is the first thing I tried to do. Believe it or not, the case of the new PC was built in such a way that I can't physically put another hard drive in it. There is a bay for a total of 3 hard drives, but when I went to put the old hard drive into one of the empty bays I couldn't maneuver it into the slot because there is a big metal tab hanging in the way. It's not a technical issue -- it just physically can't be put into place.


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^ What Dany said... if the drive is OK it would not hurt to keep it as an extra drive on the new machine.... (dedicated data backup perhaps? lol)
Ha! Believe it or not, I've been a heavy user of data backups since I had a hard drive crash about 10 years ago that wiped out my personal data. My experience to date:

- Iomega external drive: failed
- Western Digital "My book" hard drives, 2 of them: failed
- I now have a networked HP MediaVault home server in my basement allegedly backing up all the data in the house. Works great in theory, but on this particular PC I discovered that the "automatic" backup wasn't working automatically. I last manually backed it up in February, so, that's all I got.

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Old 09-05-10, 03:00 PM   #7
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My experience is similar. The Iomega ZIP/JAZ click-of-death issue turned me off to their products forever. Kinda hard to use a backup product to back up your data when it fails quicker than your primary storage.

And WD is similar, horrible with high failure-rates. Now, I pretty much only go for Seagate drives with 5-year warranty. I've only had to RMA two Seagate drives in the past 10-years and they replaced it with drives at 3x the capacity (equivalent current dollar value). The 20+ WD drives I've tossed because they failed right after the short warranty expired.

As for the case, cut and modify as necessary. I've got a server with 16x 3.5" SATA drives in a mini-ATX case. Cut, bend, drill sheetmetal brackets as necessary. Braze them into the case where you want to position the drives. Here's some pretty insane case mods:

http://www.pakgamers.com/forums/f24/...ase-mods-56583
http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/t...se-mods-part-2
http://www.gizmowatch.com/entry/top-...d-pc-case-mods
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Old 09-05-10, 03:59 PM   #8
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You don't have to actually mount the drive in the case, just to recover the data on it. Just temporarily plug in a power connector and a data cable and let the drive rest on the case bottom or a book, if the cables won't reach. Get the data off and remove it again.
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Old 09-05-10, 04:38 PM   #9
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Thanks -- I should have mentioned this is the first thing I tried to do. Believe it or not, the case of the new PC was built in such a way that I can't physically put another hard drive in it. There is a bay for a total of 3 hard drives, but when I went to put the old hard drive into one of the empty bays I couldn't maneuver it into the slot because there is a big metal tab hanging in the way. It's not a technical issue -- it just physically can't be put into place.
Those metal tabs can usually be popped out by hand. Sometimes a screwdriver helps to get it started.
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Old 09-05-10, 05:06 PM   #10
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Another Iomega ex fan here... till the one day I actually NEEDED the data back.

The HP MediaVault home server is sexy.
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Old 09-06-10, 11:55 AM   #11
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Those metal tabs can usually be popped out by hand. Sometimes a screwdriver helps to get it started.
Yeah, they're there to reduce EMF interference by providing full-metal coverage around the electronics. You pop off the metal plate when you want to install another drive. There's usually just a tiny spot-weld holding it on. Twist and spin the plate until it pops off.
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Old 09-06-10, 02:28 PM   #12
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Well, my attempt to get the data out failed. I got an external drive, and was able to get into the hard drive to "see" the data but because it was "protected" I couldn't get at the files. I am guess the "protection" is left over from the password protection I had on the user accounts when the hard drive was in use (?).

In any case, having futzed with this all weekend, I dropped the drive off at Best Buy to let Geek Squad get the data for me. Sorry to wimp out on everyone, next time I will HTFU and keep going.
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Old 09-06-10, 07:54 PM   #13
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Geek squad if about the worst place to take it. Unless you turned on encryption then you can get the data back yourself.
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Old 09-07-10, 02:12 AM   #14
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Geek Squad? Kiss your data goodbye!
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Old 09-07-10, 03:25 AM   #15
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Don't worry Bange' ... even if your data is lost, hopefully the thread will remind some people to backup their priceless children pictures. I know I'm gonna backup mine to DVD and to external drive right now. Your loss will not be in vain.
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