View Full Version : Massive computer hard drive failure

Exhaust Port
08-31-2005, 06:14 AM
I had about the worst computer problem when I got back in town this weekend. I attempted to turn on my computer only to get some error messages. After some investigating I found that my hard drive had a mechanical failure and is now paper weight. My computer was attempting to boot off my old slaved hard drive which I become corrupted a few years ago (but I was still able to pull my data off of when slaved).

It started a about a week ago when a strange clicking noise would occasionally come from my computer case. Soon after that my computer would freeze up and I would have to reboot. It would ususally take a few attempts to get the computer to fire up but once I did it would be fine for a few days. This time there was no rebooting allowed.

I've since had to buy a new hard drive and Windows XP (I can't find any my old disks) and install both. I tried to slave my failed hard drive to my new one and see if I could pull some data off. My computer can't even recognize the hard drive unfortunately. It knows that it's there but nothing will show up in Explorer. After some tinkering I got it to show up briefly in Windows Explorer but the computer doesn't see any data there. My guess is that one of the internal arms failed making it impossible to actually read anything off the disk.

Data Recovery you say? I looked into this and found out that starting price is about $500 and most recoveries average about $1000+. Ouch. There is enough stuff on my hard drive (digital pictures, documents) that I'll probably need to pay up at some point. My hope is that it's possible to let my hard drive sit on the shelf for a few months before I have it recovered to give me some time to save some $$$.

As my digital picture collection grew I started thinking about backing up the pictures. The one reason I didn't was that my only available media on my computer was CD's which has a pretty limited storage size. With the amount of stuff I needed to backup it would have taken me tons of CD's to store my files. Now I'm going to buy a DVD burner which will be more capable of handling the amount of data I have/had.

A small piece of irony, the failure occured on the 29th and my hard drive warrenty expired on the 15th of August.

I don't concider this a warning but more of an attempt to share exactly what can happen and what it'll take to get your files back. (ie $$$). The chances of a mechanical failure is pretty remote especially considering most folks change computers every few years and rarely have old components.

Anyone have any experience with data recovery or have any recommendations of places to try?

Captain Spoon
08-31-2005, 07:44 AM
Damn, sorry to hear that. While your saving up some $cash$ save up 60 or 70 bucks and by a DVD-R drive hehe. As far as data recovery I'm not sure if there is a "chain" of data recovery places. you will probobly just have to look locally and see what you can find. You will be paying in that price range no matter where you go

08-31-2005, 07:58 AM
My hard drive crashed on my new Dell, but it was inder warranty, so I got the drive replaced, and the tech left the old hard drive with me so I could see if my friend could extract my pictures and files off. My friend told me that Dell uses some differentpiece that he doesn't have, so he was unable to recover anything, so I just mailed the old drive back to Dell.

08-31-2005, 09:41 AM
I never bothered with data recovery on my old hard drive since I backed up my files a couple of weeks before it crashed. I lost some digital pics and a couple of documents I ended up just rewriting. My drive had that ominous clicking sound too before it finally died.

I do have a lot of data locked on some tapes after my tape drive died. I didn't want to buy other drive for what is really an obsolete medium, so I can't access the data on those tapes. Most of the data is digital pics and the technical readouts on some battle station or some such thing...

08-31-2005, 10:21 AM
Your story happened to me a year ago. Ironically enough, it is starting all over again. The "clicking" and boot problems started yesterday. Damned if you do...

Anyway, the key to this is BACKUPS! I have 4 harddrives in my desktop computer and a laptop. All my regular files are on the C drive and a backup while the other two drives have a very important project that I can't afford to lose. The laptop also has the project.

I haven't yet, but will soon, burn some DVD backup discs of folders that I don't use very often.

The Data Recovery companies are a racket. "There's an art to it," is the justification I got when exclaiming about the high price. B**lsh**. If the mechanical arm goes, it should be as simple as replacing that mechanical part. The disc itself is still fine. But they have you by the balls because most people don't know how to replace the parts on a drive.

Just like dealing with scalpers, the best way to deal with Data Recovery companies is to not put yourself into a situation where you need them in the first place.

08-31-2005, 02:14 PM
I feel your pain. I've had this happen three times this summer. The first was one of my research group's computers main HD when south and some people loss a lot of stuff. Then my home desktop started acting up. I had been thinking about buying a new machine for some time and this forced my hand. I lost nothing because I stop use it, but just barely squeaked by. The next day my laptop's HD totally failed. The saving grace here was I had just backed everything on it.

I don't think HD's are a robust as they be. Manufactures are just making them as cheap as they can. Sure you can drop them off the 10th floor and still use them, but they don't last.

08-31-2005, 02:59 PM
Yep, blessed are those who keep backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups of backups.

Exhaust Port
08-31-2005, 07:34 PM
I don't think HD's are a robust as they be. Manufactures are just making them as cheap as they can. Sure you can drop them off the 10th floor and still use them, but they don't last.

Perhaps you are right. My previous HD went over 7 years before it developed a bad sector and didn't work. This last HD didn't even make it 2 years before it failed (to a much greater extent as well).

Reefer Shark
08-31-2005, 09:27 PM
No question about it, hard drive failure is becoming a fairly common thing. I've been working in IT Support jobs for the last 8 or so years, and I see it all the time nowadays.

I use Norton Ghost to run my backups. Nice and easy. Very hassle free operation. :thumbsup: