How I got data from my broken hard disk (part 2)

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In my previous post I have described how my WD hard disk has stopped working and has shown junk folders instead of empty space. Windows decided that “The specified disk appears to be a non-Windows XP disk” so I could do nothing with it. In this post I’ll describe what I did to start rescuing data.

First I have tried just to delete the junk folders. It didn’t work. Also, I have tries to create a new folder, and it didn’t work either. I guessed there were something wrong with the disk, so I downloaded “Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows” from the WD site. First I have run the quick SMART test and it came through fine with no errors. I have decided to run the extended test and it surprised me that the test would take 30 hours to complete. I was skeptical about the estimate, but left the test to run anyway and left for my office.

When I returned back home after some hours, the computer didn’t respond, so I had to restart it. Again I have noticed that the boot took much longer. I have tried to run the extended test again, and after some minutes it froze my computer, leaving the screen with a tiled pattern. I tried the same for a few times, and every time the same happened, but at different percentage complete. Once I even ran the quick SMART test again and this time it failed with two errors, one of them being something wrong with the disk heads. I decided it’s time to make backup of the files on the disk, so I started copying content to the external disk.

Unfortunately it was too late. The disk was very slow, and at some point copying started to give me read errors so I couldn’t continue. Frustrated I have decided to try to fix a disk with some special disk utilities from a boot CD.

I have created several bood CDs (Ultimate boot CD and Hiren’s boot CD). They have had similar utilities on them. I have tried some, but each of them crashed my computer the same way WD tool did: by freezing it and showing weird tiles on the screens.

When I returned to Windows, the disk was not recognized any more, so I couldn’t continue copying files. So I was left with a disk that caused slow Windows boot-up and was not recognized by Windows. Funny, but at the time it was not – beside this some my data was on the disk as well.

I gave up on the disk and the data. I was thinking on just how to remove it so my system would work optimal again. However, I still didn’t know what has happened so I couldn’t just leave it at that. If my data was gone, I could as well play with the disk even if I brake it.

Next the solution: Read part 3: what helped to get the data back.