Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to revive a hard drive (Part -3)?

The rest of the solutions

From: Scott Wittell, MCP A+

I had to laugh when I saw this easy fix, and it does work. We were able to bring back a failed drive in an older HP server running NetWare 4.11. First step is to remove the drive from the machine. Second, hold the drive flat in your palms. Third, shake the drive a few times in an up-and-down motion, like you're trying to hammer a nail. Don't let the drive hit the floor though. I've used this technique on numerous occasions, works every time.

From: Colle Davis

The Hair Dryer Method

For the last resort (when the drive really did die, it-is-not-even-spinning type crashes), there is a possible solution that comes from the early days of hard drives. Back then you were not supposed to turn them off—I don't know why but IBM said never turn them off unless you are standing there.

One of our main computers was housed in a closet where I could not hear it well and had a power supply failure that apparently took days to complete. I happened to open the closet for some other reason and discovered a warm box and immediately went through the shut down sequence to take it off line for a new power source.

Several days later, the unit was shut down again for a long weekend of downtime on a routine maintenance schedule and upon restarting the system the hard drive would not work. I am pretty good at backing up everything but could not find the backup disk anywhere. Panic. I am the author of a newsletter that goes to hundreds of subscribers everyday, and the mailing list was on the dead drive. I replaced the drive and reloaded everything but was going through sobbing spells as I looked for solutions to recover the lost data. Data recovery companies wanted over five thousand dollars to try to recover the data.

A client of mine told me he once possessed an old 286 that required a hair dryer to get it running every time he turned it on. The fellow who had built it for him was an IBM technician and gave him the hair dryer idea because that is what IBM used to do to restart the drives in down machines. So on the bench machine with the drive out where the dryer could get to it and still be hooked up, I began the process. Lo and behold, it worked. While it was running, I downloaded all the missing data and immediately uploaded it to the new drive. Don't laugh, I got my outcome and can now say I recovered a fully dead hard drive with my wife's hair dryer.

From: John B.
As for me, I have had good success with this method (about 50-50).

I take the drive, and suspend it 4" over a plastic carpet tool (one of those things you see in an office to help the chair wheels go). I then let it "fall" while still holding it, twice on each long edge, then once flat on top and bottom. You want firm, but not too hard raps on the plastic. I find that the carpet underneath seems to cushion the blow just enough. This appears to work on drives with stuck read-write heads most of the time. If the center bearing is locked up, nothing short of a miracle will bring it back. In any case, have a second drive ready to receive your files when you attempt to restart.

From: Tony

A. Dead system—System "A"
B. Known working system—System "B"
C. I am assuming that the system board is posting and responding in the correct manner. And that no Jumpers have been moved on any of the equipment.

Step 1. Verify power to Hard Drive (HD), Multi-tester (VDC), or another system plug. If power (See step #2) If no power, swap/replace plugs/power supply.

Step 2. Swap hard drive from A to B and boot. If boot, then HD is good. (See step #3) If No-boot, then replace HD.

Step 3. REMOVE...DISABLE if onboard.... all un-needed devices from System A...modem, sound card...etc.
NOTE: Label HD ribbon cables A and B before removal from systems. "A" for System "A" and "B" for System "B")

Step 4. Remove from system A and B the HD, and ribbon cable that connects it to the motherboard...(MB)

Step 5. Swap drive and cables from B to A and connect to MB. If boot then controller on MB "A" is good (See step #6.) If No-boot then MB controller is bad.... replace MB.

Step 6. Return HD's and cables to original systems, Remove HD ribbon cables from both systems, swap B for A and boot...If boot then ribbon cable on A is bad...replace. If No-boot then... Balance your check book, and get out the sale've got bigger problems!!

From: Eddie N.

The two techniques that I have used to get a failed hard drive to come back to life is to Sys the drive from a boot disk and/or to use the fdisk/mbr command form a boot disk. I have used these together and independent of each other.

From: Paul W.

Dead disk drives?

There's a bunch of steps I would take if the drive weren’t being recognized by either the auto setup or manual entry.
1) Check your Master/Slave/Standalone jumper settings and make sure they are correct and don't conflict with another device on the same IDE channel.
2) Check for bent pins on the connectors.
3) Try a known good cable—Floppy and IDE cables often seem to go down the gurgler at the worst possible time for some unknown reason.
4) Try a known good drive on your IDE channel and check the channel. If it doesn't respond:
·         Try another IDE port (if there's two)
·         Disable onboard IDE and try another I/O card (one that’s known to be good of course)
5) Try the disk in another PC.
6) Here's where it starts getting tricky. By now you must be reasonably convinced you have a bad case of galloping disk rot. On some drives (not all), if you have an identical same model drive, you can swap over the logic board. This will let you know if it is the embedded controller on the logic board. With luck, your disk will roar into life and you can suck the data off onto somewhere safe.
7) If your disk is making a hideous noise like a peg-legged man with a vacuum cleaner on a wooden floor (whirrr, clunk, whirrr, clunk....), then it is likely you have a dropped head. This is where you have start making decisions about how much your data is worth, because to go any further is going to cost big time and may require factory technicians to try and repair the disk in a clean-room environment. If your data was that important, then it would have been backed up. (Of course it would have been, they all respond in loud voices)
8) She's dead, Jim. How fast can you type?

In a nutshell, this is my summary of the death cycle of a hard disk.

From: Daniel F.

Get an identical Hard Drive and swap out the Logic Unit (Electronic Board). Set your CMOS to auto-detect. You’re good to go!!!

From: Miles H.

·         Check cables are on and are the correct way round.
·         Check jumpers to ensure the disk has the correct setting (depending on otherisks or CD-ROM used on the same controller, if any).
·         Check Bios setting for Model of PC is current. Download latest version if necessary.
·         Boot from DOS floppy, use FDISK to check if disk can be seen. If the disk is there, then I would suggest using GHOST or similar to copy the image from disk to disk.
·         If the disk was not apparently running, I would swap the disk out and install it into a PC that was working.
·         The options here would be to have the 'faulty' disk as the master or slave depending on your situation.
·         If installed and works as master, ghost the image to the network.
·         If installed as slave, boot the PC and use ghost to copy from disk to disk or to Network.
·         If disk was still in a state of absolute failure, I would suggest contacting the disk manufacturer to ask their advice.
·         They may have some low-level disk checking/repairing software.
·         I would also install a new disk into the original PC with O/S on and ask the user to ensure all data is put onto the network (if possible).
·         If all else fails, then you'd have to chalk it up as experience and hopefully someone would learn to ensure sufficient backup procedure were implemented.
·         Therefore, the next time this happened it would not matter. You would be able to reinstall the O/S and Applications (manually or automate) and restore data back to the user (if held locally).

From: Lawrence Shipinski

Easy, go to Maxtor's Web site or Seagate Web site and download the utility software. It's free. Please back up whatever you can first!

From: Jake G.

Well, I'm kind of new to this, but I'll throw my hat in the ring.

First, I would try flashing the CMOS. If the battery is built into the system board (I bet it is), then find the CMOS jumper, pull it–—or move it from pins 1-2 to 2-3—then kick the power on for a few seconds. Power down; put the CMOS jumper where it started. If the battery is removable, then pull the battery and flash the CMOS.

Try rebooting.

If that doesn't work, put the Quick Restore disks in, reboot, and exit to DOS when you get the chance (I don't remember the exact steps to that). Now, depending on how this QR was put together, you may have to change to a virtual –drive—possibly N: and then the TOOLS directory. You may be able to do this straight from the A: or C: prompt. Run the command FDISK /MBR and reboot.

If it still doesn't work,then I would have to check into a disk utility you can run from a bootable floppy (assuming you can even get that far). Don't have a whole bunch of experience with those. The next step after that is to just swallow hard and kiss that data bye-bye. You could replace the hard drive but why keep a relic like that around when you could buy another one five times as good for the same money the Prolenia cost you when it was new?

From: Gordon G., IT Manager

The following is the normal procedure used at my company (before sending the hard drive to a data recovery agency).

1. Return the BIOS to the original state. If "auto" for hard drive then "auto,” otherwise to "user defined" with LBA enabled for Microsoft's operating systems.
2. If the system still doesn't boot off the hard drive, then boot off a write-protected bootable floppy using the same operating system and version as what is on the C: drive.
3. If there is no hardware error during the boot process, see if the c: drive can be accessed at all. If it can be accessed and files and directories can be viewed, now is a good time to back up files if the physical condition of the hard drive is suspect.
4. Check the hard drive with an antivirus program. Sometimes computer viruses damage the boot sector. A good antivirus program will identify the problem and may even correct the situation.
5. If there is no virus found on the c: drive, then run "sys c:" to restore the boot files to the hard drive. Only run the sys command if you are sure the BIOS settings are the same for the hard drive as before the problem was reported. One way to check this is to look at the file and directory structure of the drive. If you see garbage, then the settings are probably not the same (or the FAT was corrupted). Reboot the system after running sys.
6. If the drive boots, you're almost done. If not, then reboot off the diskette and scan the drive for errors. Reinstall the operating system without formatting the drive.
7. If the drive makes any unusual sounds or doesn't spin, then your best option is to send the drive to a data recovery agency. Attempting to recover data from a physically damaged disk usually results in further damage to the drive and little chance of recovering any data later. The best question to ask here is "What is your time and data worth?"
8. In step 6, I said that if the drive boots you're almost done. What's left? Make that recovery diskette, make a backup of the drive and thoroughly scan the hard drive for any physical errors. Perform the scan last, since the drive may fail during a scan if there are any physical problems with the drive mechanism.

From: Traci N Thrash

I hope you have good luck on your data recovery. Usually, the first thing I do is to pray, then scold the user GENTLY for not making backups. I hope they never ask to see MY backups.

1. Pull the disk. Put it in a known working machine. This gets you out of the malfunctioning environment and into a controlled space, YOUR workbench.
2. Try "Auto config" to set the drive type.
3. If "Auto config" does not find the correct drive type, you have two options:
·         Read the actual specs off the drive label (this may or may not work, depending upon whether the set-up tech used them or not).
·         Use a disk utility to read the specs off of the drive.
4. If this does not work, is the drive spinning?
·         If not, try to "shock" it by setting it flat upon the table top, applying power, and rapping it on the side a couple of times with a plastic-faced hammer or handle of a screwdriver. Don't be afraid to rap it pretty good, these little guys are pretty sturdy nowadays, and worst already have a broken drive! (Often you will hear the drive spin up immediately.) Time to BACK UP (Grab the data and run).
·         If it is spinning, power it down and clean the connector with the cleaner of your choice. I like pre-moistened alcohol prep pads from a medical supply. Put the cables back on and try again.
5. Sometimes, it helps to remove the PC board from the drive and reinstall it. (Connector problem again.)
6. Disk utilities like SpinRite, Disk First Aid, or Disk Rescue are useful (but only if the drive is actually spinning.)

In every case, back up the data the minute you see anything that even looks like a directory. Have a drive ready to put it on. I like to have a disk drive connected to my test machine and put everything there ASAP. You might be advised to use the "new" drive that will go into the user's machine. Don't put the "bad" drive back unless you just like to make service calls over again. These steps have made me a hero more than once on my 17 years as a PC tech and/or salesman. Hope they work for you.
From: Geoff G.

Here's my solution to the quiz "How do you bring a hard drive back to life?"

In order to make the best use of a drive that may be failing, one could take
the following steps:

1.     Check the system to see if the drive will detect and boot up successfully. If so, skip to step 5 for backup/data retrieval procedures.
2.     If the drive is not detecting properly on the system, check to see if the problem can be solved in the systems bios, by either manually reconfiguring the drive, or by autodetecting it. If this works, skip to 5.
3.     If the drive simply will not work in that system, try putting it in another system that is working properly with a similar hard drive (the same drive type and/or size if possible). If the drive works in this system, but not in the original system, then perhaps the old system has more serious problems such as a bad IDE controller.
4.     Try booting up on the drive. If it will not boot properly, try FDISK or some other partition viewer to see if it has valid partitions defined. If no valid partitions are defined, or if partitions are unformatted, then the data may be lost. Try redefining to the exact same partitions that were known to exist before the problems were encountered. If you have a working drive at this point, but no data, then it is likely that data is gone. If irreplaceable data was lost, you can try bringing the drive to a hardware shop for professional data retrieval.
5.     If any of these attempts to revive the drive has succeeded, then immediately bring the system up and back up any important files to another drive or to removable media. Run scandisk and/or any other drive checking utilities. If serious problems are found with the drive, or if you have suspicion that the drive will continue having more problems like this, then prepare to replace the drive. While you still have a working system, make a complete backup if possible. Perhaps the entire drive image can still be retrieved and copied onto the new drive, and no system re-install will be necessary.

From: Chris Heizmann

I. If the drive works intermittently and won’t boot to Windows:

1) Create a boot disk on a different machine if available (format c: /s).
2) Use the boot disk to start the machine in DOS.
3) Switch to drive c:\.
4) Copy all data files to floppy (more than one disk will be needed).

II. If the drive does not work at all.

·         1) Open up the case.
·         2) Locate and remove the Hard Disk Drive.
·         3) Tap on the side of the hard drive with a screwdriver a few times (not too hard).
·         4) Re-install the drive and start the PC.
·         5) If the PC boots to Windows, backup all data files via MSbackup.
6) If the PC won’t boot to Windows, follow the above instructions.

From: David A. Hunt

·         First establish the correct drive characteristics (cylinders, sectors, kapazität usw.) from the drive or from internet if not printed on the casing.
·         Check all cables and connections (Power, EIDE, or SCSI).
·         Turn on the Power and correct the BIOS.
·         Watch for failures such as controller failure during bios check.
·         Listen for unpleasant noises (after head crash).
·         If the PC won't boot from disk, use a boot disk in the floppy and establish if drive C is available.
·         If not, try Fdisk and see if a drive is visible (if not, it's starting to look bad...).
·         If visible and reachable, copy any important data to floppy disk (if possible) or another drive if available.
·         Revive the boot block, and try booting from the drive again.
·         If the drive wasn't visible, then remove the drive and try to revive it in another PC.
·         Sometimes removing the drive and gently shaking it can help to revive it if the user hasn't been using his PC on a regular basis, especially in older PCs.
Anyway, this a problem one can spend hours with, it just depends on how important the data was. Only cowards work with a backup!!!!

From: Mauri Presser

·         Check the CMOS setup for drive settings.
·         If an auto detect drive option is there, use it.
·         Save the settings and reboot.
·         Listen to see if the drive is spinning by putting your ear close to the drive (hopefully the drive is not so loud that you do not need to get close to it to hear it).
·         If it does not spin, shut down the computer.
·         Check to make sure pin one of the cable is on pin one of the drive (you might have seen a steady drive activity LED lit up if it was backwards).
·         If one was on one, then physically remove the drive and FIRMLY holding on to it, twist your wrist in an attempt to break the "sticktion" (bearings stuck) free.
·         Hook the drive back up and power up to a boot floppy.
·         If it spins up now, try FDISK or other third-party software to see if it recognizes the partition(s).
·         If not, try Norton Disk Doctor or equivalent to try and recover the partition.
·         If it does see the partition (or if you recovered it) try and read the files.
·         If not, back to Norton Disk Doctor.
·         If this does not work, it's time for Ontrack or other data recovery service (if the client will pay!). Good hunting!!

From: Karl DeGraff

The most successful methods I have used are:

1. Find a computer with the exact same operating system (Win 95, Win 98, etc.) that you can use as a surrogate host. This works best if the secondary IDE channel is unused, allowing the private use of that channel by the ailing drive, and usually eliminating the need of changing jumpers.
2. Go to the drive's manufacturer's Web site (or use a drive parameters database) to get the actual physical drive parameters.
3. Set the surrogate computer's BIOS parameters to expect the ailing drive and turn it off. Auto is the best initial setting. Make sure the second IDE channel is enabled and power management is off, at least for the hard drives.
4. Cable the ailing drive to the surrogate computer's secondary IDE channel using a reasonably long IDE cable (see reason for long cable below).
5. If the drive does not spin during power up when it should (note that some SCSI drives have delayed spin ups), take the drive, hold it in the fingertips of both hands (spider on a mirror style), and rotate the drive's casing around the disk platters inside suddenly (the reason for the long IDE cable). The most effective motion is to prepare by rotating slowly to a starting position where your fingers are turned "up toward" your chest as far as is comfortable for you wrists, then suddenly rotate "down out" from your chest as far as is comfortable, and then immediately snap back to the original position. This technique works by moving the casing with respect to the platters based on the principle of inertia and will often allow a drive with "frozen" bearings to spin up one more time. Do not expect this technique to work twice!
6. If the drive does not spin up, see a drive/data recovery lab that has the ability to disassemble the drive to get at the platters and recover the data from them by using specialized clean room equipment. When performed by a qualified lab, this process is quite successful, but very expensive—backups are much cheaper! Choose the right lab, you usually only get one shot...
7. If the computer recognizes the drive, proceed on to recovering the data by any means you desire. Note that since the drive is not the boot drive and host operating system, all of the boot and operating system information are accessibl–e—no "in use" files!
8. If the computer does not recognize the drive, especially if set to Auto, go to the BIOS and set the drive parameters to the manufacturer specified values and reboot. If still no recognition, try adjusting the values for sector translation. There are several options for the primary translation type (Normal, LBA, Large, etc.), but please note that there may be other settings that also effect drive communications. These other settings usually have values of Yes/No. Some of these other settings are "large drive" (note there are many different names for this setting), "enhanced mode,” and "block mode.” The important thing is to try different combinations of any of the settings that effect hard drive communications for the second IDE channel. Hint, make a list of all of the possible combinations and check off each one as you try it.
9. Most important, try not to let anything (e.g., operating system or "fix-it" programs) mess with the disk contents until you have exhausted all other avenues of access. These programs are great, but should be reserved as the first line of defense against software corruption and the last resort for hardware corruption. If your problem is a hardware issue, these programs will usually "finish the job" in terms of denying you the possibility of recovering you data. Only use them AFTER the hardware problem has been corrected.

From: Dan Miley

I've had this happen before, and one thing that worked for me involved the following:

The Hard Disk Assembly (HDA) is usually separate from the IDE controller board. If the controller board is the bad part, the data is still good, you just cannot get to it. The symptoms for this are: Disk not spinning up at all, "drive not found," or "no boot disk available" type messages.

I've swapped the data module (HDA) from the bad drive controller to a good replacement drive. Usually it's just 4-6 screws and a couple small cables. Use static care procedures as always when working with computer parts.

If the data is good, send the new HDA and bad board back to be fixed, put the good drive (with original data) back in, reboot, and away you go.

From: Jack Ho

·         First of all, get yourself a Win95/98 startup disk and an emergency boot disk from your favorite virus-scanning software and disk-repairing programs.

·         Second, note the number of drives in the system and reboot the machine. When it boots up, make sure you can hear the all drives spin up. If the spinning sounds are confusing, you may have to open up the case.

·         If any of the drives didn't spin, turn off the PC and take the computer case off. Carefully unplug the drive cables and power cables and reconnect them. Then power up the system. If the drives still do not spin, swap the power cables and try again. If they still do not spin, then you know for sure those drives are dead. To retrieve data from these drives, you may have to take them to a nearby data recovery center and be prepared to spend some bucks. If they spin after you swap the cables, then you've got power problems, and you need to replace the power supply on the system.

·         If the drive is spinning but the system does not recognize it, such as "invalid drive specification" or "disk 0" errors, cold boot the machine and enter CMOS setup. Make sure the disk controller (whether it is IDE or SCSI) is enabled. Set it to AutoDetect if it is an IDE drive. Set the correct SCSI options (by entering the appropriate SCSI utility) if it is a SCSI drive. Since the system was working before, I assume the SCSI IDs and master/slave parameters are correct. After the correct options are set, reboot the system. For an IDE drive, if the system still does not recognize it, manually enter the drive parameters in the CMOS set up and reboot again. If the system has a CD-ROM drive, note if it was being recognized by the system. If the system does not recognize both hard drives and CD-ROM drives, take the computer case off and replace the IDE cables (or SCSI cables if they are SCSI drives). Note any broken pins when you replace the cables. If there are any broken pins, you may have to replace the drives or motherboard.

·         After you've replaced the cables, if the drives are still not being recognized, the drives may be bad. If you have a spare working drive, plug it in. If it works, then you know the other drives are bad: either a severe virus has contaminated the drives such that the drive parameters are overwritten, or there are physical errors with the drives. If the system does not even recognize your spare working drive, then the disk controller is bad and needs to be replaced.

·         If the system recognizes the drive but does not boot up your OS, cold boot your system from a bootable virus ERD and do a complete scan of the failed drive. Repair any corrupted master boot records if possible. If the virus-scanning disk does not find any virus, cold boot the system with a bootable ERD from your favorite disk repairing software such as Norton Disk Doctor. If this still does not help, but you are able to access the data from a floppy boot disk, you can recover the system by backing up all your data and reinstalling the OS on the hard drive. If the failed drive can’t be accessed from a boot floppy and is not repairable by any "disk doctor" programs, take it to a data recovery center.

From: Robert K. Kuhn

Since you did not state what kind of hard drive this is (MFM, RLL, SCSI, ESDI, IDE/EIDE), I'm going to assume IDE/EIDE.

An "Invalid Drive Type" error usually means that the wrong drive type has been selected in CMOS. I am also going to assume that the BIOS/CMOS supports this hard drive size (some older BIOS’s required a third party software patch; drives that were 500 MB and larger for instance...). If Auto Detect does not work or if the BIOS/CMOS setup does not have an Auto Detect feature, then I would do as follows:

1. Verify that the drive is spinning up and that all the cables are hooked up properly.

2. I would then verify that the drive itself is configured/jumpered correctly (master/slave/single drive). Most of your current IDE/EIDE drives have the jumper setting on the drive itself, which makes it nice. Though some of the older ones do not, which forces you to call their tech support or search their Web site for jumper configuration.

3. If I had access to another computer, I would either try swapping out the cable to see if I had a bad cable or I would just simply install the "bad" drive into the other computer and see if the BIOS/CMOS detects the drive. If it does not, then chances are very good that the drive is kaput. However, if the other computer does see the drive and I am able to boot up with it, then I have to assume that there's a problem with the other computer's IDE/EIDE controller. One last attempt would be to find the geometry of the drive (cylinders, heads, sectors) and add them in manually. If it booted fine with the other computer, the geometry can be copied from there. Otherwise, a call to the vendor or a search on their Web site would be order. If the hard drive controller is found to be bad, depending on the motherboard (going with the assumption that it has an onboard controller with both a primary and secondary controller), I would check the CMOS to make sure that the IDE controller(s) were enabled. Sometimes you can boot from the secondary IDE/EIDE controller, so I would try that too. If it boots, great! Time for a new motherboard or perhaps just purchase a new controller and disabling the onboard controller. But I would seriously consider getting a new motherboard when budget allows.

4. If I only had the one computer, then I would have to search for a known good hard drive (and cable) that the BIOS supports. Then if it too does not boot, then I would have to guess it's something with the
controller/motherboard. If it does boot, then I would have lean towards a bad drive.

5. Sometimes with an "Invalid Drive Type", you can actually boot with a floppy (assuming that the drive is not an NTFS, HPFS, LINUX, Novell NetWare or some other format....) and then access the hard drive. If
this can be done, this might be one way to back up any data. You can set up the "bad" drive as "slave" and then with a new drive formatted with whatever format is needed, copy over whatever data that can be read on the "bad" drive.

Back in the good old days, when we had a drive that went beyond the 1024 cylinders (which is 99.99 percent of all the IDE/EDIE drives made since 1992 and on), we had to "trick" the BIOS/CMOS. This was done by taking the cylinders, dividing the number in half, and then doubling the heads:

Example: 1138 cylinders, 8 heads, 63 sectors–s—this would translate to 569 cylinders, 16 heads and 63 sectors.

I would try this trick as perhaps my last resort. But this was used/done on 386/486 machines back in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

One last attempt, and I doubt that it will work but it's worth a shot, would be to get Symantec's Ghost or PowerQuest's Drive Image. A trial copy can be downloaded from their site. See if a drive-to-drive image
can be made (from the old "bad" drive to the "new" replacement drive). However, Ghost and Drive Image must be able to read the "bad" drive's partition. One could look into a sector-by-sector copying tool. Back in the late 80s, I had one but for the life of me can't remember who wrote it. But I remember it was shareware. Gibson research, perhaps (the makers of SpinWrite, an excellent utility for it's time...)

If the data is that important (mission critical), a drive recovery center would have to deal with it. But be prepared to pay for it! We've had to use a local data recovery center (Hard Disks Only) and Gibson Research in the past to rebuild a bad drive. Not cheap but would have cost us more had we not been able to recover the data. Gibson Research is perhaps the best out of the two we've dealt with.

Some other things to consider include that a bad power supply can also cause a hard drive not to boot (not allowing it to spin up to full RPM), the amperage required to spin the motor is more than what the motherboard draws/needs even if it has a full bus. Also, I've even seen some ISA, PCI, and AGP cards cause conflicts with onboard IDE/EIDE controllers (usually in the form of IRQ and/or memory address). Though these are usually funky-specialized boards, I have seen it happen.

Again, I am assuming that the drive is an IDE/EIDE. If it's an MFM, RLL, ESDI or SCSI, then the tactics would differ slightly as each are set up and controlled differently. But since IDE/EIDE is perhaps the popular and most used drive, I am going to assume that is the drive.

From: Jim Davison

Since you did not state IDE/SCSI, I will assume IDE. I will also assume that drive is not using a bios modifier like those used to make older motherboards support larger drives. (I have seen situations where users tried to enter drive specks in setup for SCSI drives).

I would use the following steps even considering that you state the user had "Tried" to manually enter the settings in setup and also tried auto. The user may not know what they are doing. I also would not trust the error codes. I would assume the error codes are only letting us know there is a problem but would not trust the codes to give an accurate description of what the problem is.

1. In setup, Try IDE Auto Detect to see if the bios can even see the drive.
If yes, then I would use that setting and everything should be OK.
If yes, and the drive still does not boot, I would use fdisk/mbr in case the Master boot record was destroyed.
If no, then I would go to step 2.

2. Open the box and check all power and data cables.
(I have seen Molex type power connectors lose a connection intermittently even if they are plugged in tightly) you need to wiggle them around. (I have also seen one case where the data cable came loose when the computer was moved).
If cables were the problem, then you should be okay now.
If you still have a problem, go to step 3.

3. Other Drives are bad and interfering with the boot disk
In case anything else is sharing the IDE bus with the drive, e.g., a CD-ROM, then disconnect anything that is also connected to the IDE bus and recheck the Master/Slave settings if necessary and try again.

4. Possibly a faster way to check if the problem is the drive or something else
Remove the drive and plug it into another computer and see if the other computer can detect the drive. If yes, then the problem is a cable, motherboard, etc. on the computer, so go to step 5.

5. CMOS or Flash problem
Put the drive or at least a drive back on the computer with the problem. Go to setup and reload the bios from defaults and then redo the settings and save. Then try the IDE auto detect. If this does not work and your system has flash upgrades, then reload the flash. Might as well check for upgrades before refreshing. After refreshing, then again reload the defaults and save settings. Reboot into setup and try the auto detects again.
If the BIOS can now see the drive but the drive still does not boot, then you may need to reload the OS or at least replace the necessary drivers.
If the thing still is not working, then it is most likely a defective drive and you will need to decide how badly you need the data on the drive. If you need the data, then I would send the drive to a data recovery lab that can extract the data from a dead drive and save the data to a tape, CD, HD, etc. This can be expensive but may be worth it.

From: Ron Charity

A trick I was told that sometimes works is to remove the drive from the PC (leave power and data connected), lean it on its side and attempt reboots.

From: Phil Murphy

First thing I would do is to check the BIOS to make the sure the disk is set to Auto and doesn't have any settings in it. Then I would reboot the computer using the Win95/98 Setup disk and run fdisk to check to make sure that there are partitions visible. If there are no partitions visible, then I would have to assume that the data on the drive has departed. Next, if I do see a partition, then I will exit fdisk and go right the C drive. I would run a directory on it to see if all of the files are intact. If they have strange names and numbers, then the drive has suffered a serious malfunction and the data is not retrievable. If the directory appears to be in good shape, then I would use Drive Image to make a image file of the hard drive and move it to either a zip disk or a CD-ROM, for the next time this happens.

From: Shawn Cole

·         Get a second Hard Drive larger than the current broke or fairly non-functioning one.
·         Make Disk #1 OLD Drive Slave and the new one Master because you want the new one to become your Primary Boot Drive.
·         Format and FDISK the New Drive into one or two partitions. I do two for personal reasons, Format c: so it's bootable.
·         Go buy a program called LOST & FOUND V1.0 from under software, disk utilities from the company POWERQUESTCORPORATION found at for a price of $55.95 and follow the instructions in the book to the letter.
·         Restart machine with the L&F disk in and follow the on screen prompts, and it will COPY all the data you choose. When it’s complete, it will give you a report of success and/or failure on particular files.

And as long as the hard drive is not physically destroyed, you will be able to copy over all the  recoverable data . The nice thing about this is it COPIES only—no writing to the messed-up drive. I used this very successfully on a drive that the FAT became corrupt on and would not ID or boot up on.

From: Tomer Har Nesher

Hi, I have three ideas:
1) Install the hard drive on other machine that is running same OS. If the disk partition is FAT or FAT32, you can start the machine by using WIN98 system diskette without install the hard drive on other machine.
2) We found some problems with hard drive that happen after few minutes of work. In this case, you should disconnect the hard drive from power (by turning off the machine) for few minutes, then turn it on and back up immediately until it will be warm again and you'll not be able to read the data.  Do it until you'll have all files copied.
3) If you have same drive (SAME MODEL), you can replace the unreachable disk's main board and trying to read the data.


There is no one way to this matter to the disk drive quiz. So I am going to give it a try. I have had this problem in the past, actually a few times.
·         I checked to see if there are any viruses that affected the Fat table of the drive, and then I used a hard drive that was sys'ed and set the other one as slave. I was able to read the partition and copy the data over. If that didn't work use ex: Norton disk doctor or any other disk examiner and see if that was able to correct the problem. Run it off the first hard drive.
·         One other way it could be done is if you knew that the controller board on the hard drive was bad is to replace that board with a exact one off of another PC and go back into setup and use auto to reconfigure. I have only used this method once and it worked.

From: Darren Brown

Hmmm....gotta hate those hard drive problems.....

"The sounds of the game"
Let’s take a look at the hard drive itself. Is it plugged in properly? Just ask the customer a polite question about it possibly being moved or bumped. Loose cables are the most common problem in a case like this. If it is plugged in properly, just try to boot it again after checking the connections. Sometimes a connector did come out a bit on one side and you put it back properly without noticing.

"Put the right spin on things"
Next, is the drive spinning when you turn the computer on? If it isn't, check the power cable to the drive. If that was fine, tap the drive lightly on the side to see if it spins up. Sometimes that works (if it does, back it up and order a new drive immediately!). I encountered a drive that acted like this a year ago. If you kept tapping it, it kept spinning. So, for three hours, I sat there tapping this drive until I got all the company's accounting data off of it. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your customers.

"Something SCSI this way comes"
This may seem stupid, but is the drive a SCSI drive? Again, check the cables and the termination. Boot up and check the SCSI bios to see if it is set up properly.

"Back to the Bios"
If the drive is spinning and the cables are properly seated, check the "Detect IDE Hard drives" in the bios. For some reason, on some of the older motherboards, it will pick up a drive that "AUTO" won't pick up.

"Swap meet"
The old "swap" maneuver. Is there another drive in the company that is exactly the same? Back up that drive and remove it from the other computer. Remove the logic board on that one and transplant in onto the drive that isn't detecting. Boot up. If it detects, get the data off of it and return the logic board to the other drive. Double check that the drive you took the logic board still works! (Warning! Not for the faint of heart! May result in two defective drives!)

"Third Party!!!"
Get out the big guns. Tiramisu from Ontrack or DrivePro from Microhouse are great tools to get into spinning drives. DrivePro to set up the drive in the bios, and Tiramisu to retrieve the data.

"Never believe everything you hear!"
One thing to remember, listen to the problem the customer has, but find your own solution! I fell into that trap once "I tried this and that,” and yet, after a couple of hours of painful work, I tried the customer’s solutions, too. Sure enough, the customer may have tried those solutions, but he didn't do them properly.

These are presented in no particular order. You will do things differently depending on the situation (usually check the bios first and see the problem for yourself, then try to boot it up without doing anything to the machine. Based on the sounds the drive makes, or doesn't, this will give you a place to start your problem-solving skills). Also, if the drive does detect, but has bad sectors, try Scandisk (thorough option) or Norton Utilities Disk Doctor. A bad sector can make a bad day too. And a rule of thumb for bad sectors, even one grown bad sector means there is a problem, and should be replaced. Manufacturers may argue this, but in the field, you don't want to take anything for chance.

I really hope these help you out.

From: Rod Lee

My solution is as follows: Send the faulty drive and a new (fully tested and compatible) drive to the newly-formed TechRepublic support company where, for a very reasonable fee, the industry-leading expert technicians will solve the problem for me and copy all data onto the new disk!

As well as fixing the immediate problem, a new system will be installed whereby if data is not backed up within a specified period, or if the disk exhibits any pre-crash symptoms (whatever they might be!), the disk will be halted and all access to the disk will be prohibited without a special password known only to TechRepublic and myself. Thus, for another reasonable fee, I will be able to go to the customer’s premises and save the day, thereby being accorded the status of "Hero" for recovering from a catastrophic system crash (and maybe even getting a cash bonus to boot)!

From: Michael Dal Lago

Maybe try the following;
·         Boot from a bootable disk that every good IT tech has and carries. Now you should carry bootable Windows 98 disks with files like Fdisk, Format, Chkdsk, and other diagnostics files. Now if you have an NT system with NTFS, you can boot with OS2 bootable diskettes; with will read NTFS.
·         If the BIOS still sees the HD but you cannot access it, your Master Boot Record may be defective. If this is so you may be able to recover it with the following command (Fdisk/mbr). This should recover the master boot record so you can read the drive.
·         After that, you may be able to run DOS base backup software. Make sure that you realize long file names are not supported by DOS.
·         If you wish to copy files to a different one, maybe you can use XCOPY32 to copy LFNs.

Of course, if the user was not backing up the system before this would be a good time to buy backup software since you will be in the store for the new HD. You may also use software like GHOST to make a image of the HD when it is running and install this image and ghost software to a bootable CD. When the system does crash, which will happen no matter what you do, remember to always plan for the worse. If you make the CD bootable, you can recover from a crash just by booting from the CD.

Another suggestion I would have is have an Application disk that contains all the applications and a different one for data. Keep a good daily backup of the data disk and maybe a backup of the application drive when major changes are performed.

From: John Dalnes

Already had this one this week. User deleted and wouldn't boot. Tomorrow's presentation on the drive. Installed as secondary master in another machine and transferred data to the server. Reformatted and back online the next day.

From: John Callison

1. Run diagnostic, check post, check for error messages. These could indicate controller failure, etc.
2. Try hard drive as slave in another computer.
3. If the above does not get me access to the data, contact manufacturer and overnight drive to them. They may be able to fix the drive enough to get the data off of it or repair it without erasing the data.
4. Sell them a new hard drive and a tape back up or jaz drive, etc. It is best to max out the sales to them at this point as expensive lessons are usually the best learned.
5. If they call again with the same problem, no backups etc., give them the number of your competition.

From: Jim Burns

Check or swap the power supply to see if it's putting out the proper voltage. This can give a disk failure message during bootup.

From: Bailey, Vince

I would try fdisk /mbr to try and restore the master boot record to the drive.

From: William Perry

I would remove the hard drive, set it as a slave and install it in another computer as a slave. Copy data to another location. Run scan disk and defrag if drive will run at all. Reinstall in original computer and try it. If still fails, go to step 2.

2. I would remove the hard drive, set it as a slave, and install it in another computer as a slave. Copy data to another location. Reformat the drive, install a copy of startup files, then all other files if they do not contain errors (try opening them on the host computer).

3. If the above fails, install a new hard drive and salvage as much data and files as possible.

From: Robert Hird

Try the hard drive as a secondary IDE in another computer, (e.g.: your own, seeing as you are so nice). After booting, burn the info on CD, and run the disk utilities from your computer.

From: Bill E. Garity

I would try to use Fdisk /MBR—perhaps the master boot record is corrupted.

From: Sprynet

·         If the drive 0 cannot be accessed at all, not even by the Setup program, it could be that the cables inside the machine are not properly connected, or cracked suddenly (heat always dries the plastic wire cover and sometimes it breaks).
·         If I don't hear the hard disk noise when I turn on the machine, it can also be that the hard disk is not receiving any power. In this case I would also check the power cable and the connections.
·         If all is well connected and receiving power, the I/O controller (onboard or on a separate card) may be damaged. I would try to connect the ribbon to the other existing port(s). I sometimes connect the hard drive to another computer too.
·         If the I/O controller is fine, the hard disk is receiving power, then I boot from a diskette. I always keep DOS diskettes in all versions (5.0, 6.0, 6.22).
·         Try to access C:\>
·         If it doesn't work, I try the setup program again. Auto configure will not work? I use USER and type in the parameters written on the hard disk (of course I have to open the machine to find out). If it still doesn't wor–k—if when I enter C:\ the computer returns "Bad command ..." or "Invalid drive...,” or anything for that matter, I will try Norton utilities or another third-party hard disk utility.
·         If it is a Western Digital, I will try EZDrive tools. If nothing works, I tell the client to be more serious about backing up next time.

From: Dan Nicolay

1. Complete hard drive failure (catastrophic hardware failure within drive) (clunking, etc.–)—send out to a lab if data is critical.
2. Can attempt to manually configure drive in bios–—open case and get heads, cylinders, etc., if bios won't auto detect.
If that fails…
3. Place drive in another system, attempt auto detect, etc. If the drive is detectable, but not bootable, solution will depend on whether it’s home system, whether it has network access, etc. By far the easiest solution is making a Ghost image (Symantec) and use Ghost Explorer to extract essential files. Gives you a backup and allows you to extract files that frequently aren't even accessible on a corrupt drive in a DOS or Windows session when attempting data recovery.

A Ghost image can either be sent to another drive in a system or using a boot disk or with network protocols (copied to a network drive). With the "ghost" image, you can check the drive and start over if the failure is not drive hardware related.

From: C L Gillies

1. Try going into setup cmos and correcting the hard drive settings (primary master) from Auto to User/LBA, whatever it was supposed to be; exit and save settings.
2. If this does not work, order Symantec's Ghost and make a clone.
Hope this works. Of course, you could try reinstalling the operating system after formatting but you'd lose all data without a backup.

From: Dave Adams
·         The first thing I would do is ask the user what system he/she normally booted to.
·         Then I would cold boot the PC, go into CMOS, and autodetect the hard drive.
·         If it did not detect, I would open the unit, verify the connections and try again.
·         If it still did not autodetect, I would try my spare test hard drive.
·         If my spare worked, I would test the user's original hard drive in another computer.
·         Assuming I got the hard drive autodetecting in the CMOS, I would then verify boot order in CMOS, usually A, then CD, then C.
·         I would next cold boot to a virus scan diskette and verify the hard drive could be accessed and free of viruses. The diskette I use automatically removes any viruses detected.
·         If I get to this point, I would again try to cold boot to the hard drive. Obviously, there would be some type of error message or symptom at this point to let me know better where I was in resolving this issue.
·         If I received "missing operating system" on a Windows 95 machine, I would attempt to transfer the operating system from the appropriate media. If it was a Windows 98 machine, I would use a Windows 98 boot disk to boot to an A: prompt and then use the Scanreg command, view the log, and use an file that was dated long enough ago to hopefully restore the registry.
·         If it was an NT machine, hopefully the user had a NT Emergency Boot Disk specific to that unit and I would use it and go the "Repair" route.
·         After this, I would check with tech support, because I would not want to overlook something that could help me avoid reloading her original hard drive, as quite a few users never back up their data.
·         If tech support came up with a solution, I would be sure to add it to my notebook so next time I could resolve the issue more quickly, efficiently, and professionally.

From: Brad Lewandowski
Well, since you said you were going to replace the drive, I see the options as these:

·         Boot from a floppy with a full set of DOS utilities, double checking BIOS settings, fdisk, etc.…
·          Use Interlnk and Intersvr and start a xfer
·         Yank the drive out, change it to a slave, stick it in a functioning computer and xcopy/Ghost
·         Maybe the MBR is bad, try copying one over with Sys command...
·         God forbid you should send the drive to a 'Data Recovery' place...

From: P. Christensen

·         Go to bios and ask the machine to automatically detect the hard drive. Sometimes it loses the hard drive due to a virus or faulty battery.
·         If the machine finds the hard drive, go in and do a virus scan. If the battery made the bios lose the info, you shouldn't shut off the machine until the hard drive data files are backed up. Monkey B virus will alter the boot sector and make the hard drive disappear.
·         Sometimes you have to be sure that in bios the machine will boot to A and then C and then make sure it has recognized the C drive in bios and then do a virus scan.

From: Murray Voight
·         You need to be able to boot into the system.
·         First get a generic boot disk that will allow this.
·         If you’re able to boot up, then see if you can access the C drive through DOS.
·         If you can access the C drive, then you should be able to access the files on the C drive.
·         If you can't access the files, then try running a scandisk from the boot floppy.
·         If you can't access the BIOS or the C drive through a boot disk, then the next step you need to do is shut down the computer and pull out the hard drive.
·         Once you have the hard drive out you need to douse it in lighter fluid and immediately expose the non-functioning hard drive to an open flame.
·         Although the last step is of great controversy, it will bring great satisfaction to know humans will always have the last word.

From: Howard J. Castello

Boot from floppy drive and then try running fdisk/mbr.

From: Andrzej Bednarz
The answer to the hard drive question is more complex than you may think, but the bottom line is that you really need to know how damaged is your hard drive or rather how much functionality is left in the hard drive.
·         First, I would try to approach the problem by distinguishing if it is a hardware or software issue. If the problem is software-related, for example, the operating system is corrupted,  the hard drive can be attached as a "slave" and the important data copied to the "master" bootable drive. Many times that approach can be used even for hardware-related problems, for example, when the hard drive is getting flaky, but it's not broken yet.
·         It is a lot easier to prepare yourself for the broken hard drive, but to really motivate yourself for any preventive steps, you'd have to answer the question: would I be still OK if my hard drive crashes today? Also, how much time do I want to spent for a data and/or system recovery?
·         Over years, I was developing many different methods of data recovery and backup, therefore the following is the fastest and probably the most reliable method of doing so. First of all, install the OS with all the associated programs and utilities including MS Office, Internet browsers, etc.
·         When you test everything and you're sure that everything is the way you want, you can take an image of your hard drive by using Norton Ghost.
·         For the files that you create from now on until next computer crash, create a folder called "data" and in that folder subdirectories for MS Office, PhotoShop, etc.
·         From now on, all you have to do is to backup your "data" directory to the CD and copy the Ghost image to the second CD, and if you need to restore your system, it would take you anywhere from 5 to 20 min to have everything back where it was.
·         If your hard drive snapshot image is bigger than 650 MB, choose option to compress the image during the process. If after compression the image is still bigger than 650 MB, you can split the image on as many chunks as you need, for example 20 chunks to backup 13-GB hard drive without compression.

From: Mike Fogarty

I have a really quick, no real science approach to this problem. Assuming that the drive will still spin, there is a quick, however with some risk involved, solution.

In past situations, I have successfully accessed a damaged drive by "replacing the drive.”

This method involves the EXACT SAME DRIVE as the one in question.

Step 1  With all power off, remove the hard drive in question and place it on the side where it can be easily accessed.
Step 2  Install the "NEW" drive (a drive of the same type, and manufacturer).
Step 3  Start the system up and get it to recognize the new drive. It is important to only start a command line session. Remember that we are only trying to copy some files here—this is an emergency maneuver. Also, the drive must be formatted the same as the drive we are questioning here.
Step 4  With the system RUNNING (be careful, this is the risky part I told you about, do it in this sequence), VERY QUICKLY detach the power umbilical from the running drive. Then detach the data ribbon cable from the running drive.
Step 5  VERY CAREFULLY reach for our drive in question and attach the data ribbon cable to it. Next, VERY QUICKLY place all four contacts simultaneously in contact with the drives power connection.
Step 6  Now enter at the keyboard some command—I use the DIR command. You should see the list of files for the questionable drive that you have HOT PLUGGED into this system. You should now be able to access the files needed to get you over the hump!

What has happened?

The system "thinks" it has the bootable drive you started it with and will allow you to use the device with the exception of booting with it, of course! This approach works quite well on drives that have sector one physically trashed.

From: Tron

My business is built on 100 percent On-Site Service. I carry most everything in my van that a 'shop' would have. I have a power inverter for AC power and two network-ready systems at my disposal for backing up customer data or to use as a loaner. Anything to get the customer back in business.

First: I boot from a floppy and run a program called "IDEID" that will identify the drive. I then compare these results with what is in the BIOS. I also will see if the BIOS can automatically and correctly identify the drive. If not, I use the user-defined fields.
Second: A.) I boot from a floppy and do a virus scan on drive C:. If C is there.
             B.) If C is not ther–e—I carry a few older hard drives with various boot managers on them. I'll make my drive master and boot from it letting my boot manager load. This would allow me to see their drive if I used the right boot manager.
             C.) If no boot manager is being used, and C is not present, I use Norton's "NDD/REBUILD" to recover the dos partitions. NOTE: ALWAYS MAKE THE UNDO DISK!
             D.) If C is now seen, step B may need to be repeated.
Third: With C back, I'll identify the version of Dos/Win9X on the system—I carry boot files for all versions back to MS-DOS 3.3.
Fourth: Boot off of C if possible, "SYS C:" if it is not possible, Reboot!
Fifth: I use Drive Image to Dupe to an image on a 8.4 GB (remember the 8.4-GB limit!) drive that I carry with me. I let the customer put in a password so they feel secure in my not looking at their data. The above is predicated on the fact that the drive will spin up. If it doesn't, I sometimes have luck in placing the drive upside-down. Sometimes, I'll quickly spin my wrist when I turn the power on. The upside-down mostly worked on the ST1120A/ST3120A drives (Seagate 120M). I have no definitive answer as to why. The ST138R had a problem with what I call "STICTION.” This is my opinion, Seagate! I theorize that the armature would get stuck between the poles of the magnetic fields. In any case, those days are mostly gone.
This is usually the extent that I go to. After this, the customer must decide if the data on the drive is worth the cost of the recovery. I end by selling the customer a new drive and restoring their data from the image. This is usually on a second visit since I don't make it a habit of stocking drives for sale in my van.

From: Peter Becker

This has worked about 6-8 times over the last 5 years...
I have found the drive is not spinning...
If this is the problem, just remove it and rotate the drive quickly and immediately reverse direction.
You may have to repeat 2-3 times. It works for a while...
This appears to be more of a problem with old Laptops.

From: Bill Rankin

1. First some background info is needed:

A. Does the BIOS recognize/see the HD? (Correct drive settings? Disk Manager in use?)
B. What is the OS? (Win 95/NT/Linux/etc.?)
C. What is the partition type? (Fat16/32/NTFS/etc.?)

2. If A. is yes, and C. is Fat16/32, try a boot diskette (Win95/98). A command prompt, a couple of utilities, and a working parallel port will get your data off safely.

3. If A. is yes, and C. is NTFS; try a new hard drive as C:, load a new NT/NTFS system, and access the "dead" NTFS drive as the D:. Sometimes the hard drive's onboard controller can fail, yet be chained to another's board a là master/slave mode. Copy the data off ASAP and ditch the old drive to avoid the temptation to keep it as spare storage.

4. If A is no, try another computer—the BIOS/motherboard/CPU/memory/IO controller may be dead or malfunctioning. Troubleshoot the computer later when you have time.

5. If all else fails, attempt a drive recovery with Hard Drive Mechanic, or similar drive utility. If successful, copy the data off ASAP.

6. If the data is EXTREMELY valuable, and if you have a certified clean room/booth (or a professional service), transfer the disk platters into a exact duplicate working drive. This is a very costly option due to the requirements of a certified clean room/booth.

7. Last, but not least, PREACH TAPE BACKUPS!

LEGALESE: These techniques have been used by me to recover failed hard drives. Use of any of these techniques does not in any way bind me, nor any companies associated with me, liable for your attempts, actions, or losses as your circumstances may be dissimilar or conditions not covered by the aforesaid instructions. Be sure to get technical advise from a reliable source familiar with your situation.

From: Jon Torbert

Well, things are a little ambiguous here. Do we know that we are working on the Compaq Prolinea 4/66? Since it didn't specify, I will keep this somewhat general.
·         The first step would be to boot off of a DOS startup disk and see if you can access drive C. If you can, then you at least know that you can manually save some crucial files on the machine. If the C drive is not accessible, then you need to go into the CMOS settings and see if the proper drive parameters are entered. If it is a newer machine, you can sometimes find a section in CMOS that will query the hard drive and determine the proper settings.
·         If there is no such section, then you need to open up the computer and see if the drive settings, like heads, cylinders, sectors/track, etc, are listed on the drive.
·         If none are found, get the drive make and model number and go to the company's Web site and get the parameters. Now go back into CMOS and enter the proper settings for your HD. Hopefully this will solve the problem since it was mentioned that the person had been in trying to input the setting themselves.
·         If the drive still won't boot, and you are getting a "non system disk" error, I have found that sometimes you can copy the program onto your startup disk (I keep a generic boot disk around with various files like fdisk,,, etc on it.) and at the A: prompt type sys c: which transfers the system files to the HD.
·         If you are instead getting Invalid drive specification errors, you probably aren't able to access the HD at all, even at a DOS prompt. If this is the case, you probably need to try reviving the drive with a program like Norton Disk Doctor. You have probably lost partition info or your File Allocation Table (FAT.) These are things that Norton DD can sometimes fix. If none of these things works, it is probably a lost cause. Write it off to experience. Everyone gets this fatal wake up call every once in a while to remind them about backing up crucial data.

From: Ronald E Rietz

1.) Examine all connections inside and outside the PC to ensure they are secure. Remove and label the suspect drive. Make sure all fans are operating correctly. Obtain a replacement hard drive and install the operating system and Web browsing capabilities. Retain the box in which your replacement drive was shipped in case you need to ship your suspect drive away to a media recovery firm. Visit the Web site of the hard drive vendor and download the latest version of the vendor's diagnostic program as well as information regarding drive's geometry and jumper options. Determine the keyboard strokes to get into setup mode as well as setting up disk drives for auto detect, etc. Have an ample supply of blank formatted diskettes readily available. Make sure you have space available to copy any needed files from the suspect drive. Make a boot diskette. FDISK, FORMAT, EDIT, SCANDISK, CD-ROM drivers, and the hard drive vendors diagnostic programs should all be on the diskette.

2.) Install the suspect drive as a slave. Carefully handle the suspect drive as to not bump it around at all. It may be in a _very_ fragile state at this time. Close the PC’s case or otherwise ensure that there is positive air flow across the suspect drive.

3.) Take a break, think about how you will do the following carefully and as fast as possible to avoid possibly damaging the drive further.

4.) Turn on the monitor, insert your diskette from step one. Turn on the PC and go into setup. Determine whether or not the setup program auto-detects the suspect drive. If auto-detect is OK, the disk drive's controller is OK and proceed to the next step. If auto-detect is not OK, the hard drives controller card(s) are faulty. Try substituting a different controller card from another drive of the same type, if available. Assuming the controller is faulty and swapping the external controller card does not fix the trouble, you have a choice of sending the drive off to have the controller card repaired in a clean room or to abandon your data.

5.) If the auto-detection was OK, let the PC boot with your diskette. Use FDISK and see if it detects the suspect drive as a partition. If FDISK does not see the drive, you have an internal problem, quite possibly a damaged read/write head or an internal IC. You now have a choice of sending the drive off to be repaired in a clean room or abandoning your data.

6.) If FDISK detected the partition, you may have a damaged file structure. Boot the PC with your diskette and then do something simple like a DIR. You are not ready to even think about writing anything to the suspect drive at this time! If you can not do a DIR, you may be able to recover the drive with Norton or your own favorite program. Keep and label recovery diskettes (don't reuse them), you might need to backtrack.

7.) If you can do a DIR, try booting up your machine normally. It may be possible to copy directories and files across to your new drive. Give priority to the user's data such as mail files, data files, settings, and similar. You probably want to try copying the registry files as well.

8.) After you have copied the user’s data, try SCANDISK with the thorough option. Always save the files and always make recovery diskettes. The saved files may just need to be examined and renamed.

9.) If there are any bad spots on the suspect disk, try repairing them with the vendor's diagnostic tools.

10.) After you are satisfied you have recovered all of the data from the suspect drive, do a low level format with the vendor's diagnostic program. Do an FDISK and an operating system format and then reuse the drive as you wish. A second hard drive in a system makes a reasonable place to do quick backups as well as for swap files, temporary files, temporary internet files, and the like.

From: Tom Hayes

Recently we had a user with a Tecra 520 CDT lose his hard drive. It could have been a surge or some other problem but the electronics of the drive wouldn't work. We simply ordered a new identical drive and exchanged the electronics board connected to the drive, and we were able to access the drive to recover the 250-MB mail file the user had to have recovered.

From: Raymond S Cross

Not all hard drive problems are hard drive problems. I had a situation like this just recently. Computer booted with a 'fixed disk 0 failure'. Turns out the drive itself was okayI—it was a motherboard problem, possibly a bad IDE connector. I had recently put in a new motherboard, so I swapped the old one back in and the hard disk worked fine!

From: hhewel

I would have a spare fdisked and formatted hard drive running whatever O/S was needed, install it into the down computer as the new master drive, change the jumper on down drive to slave, reboot, run CMOS, setup auto hard drive detect, and setup drives, reboot, and retrieve info on the bad hard drive using new temp drive. Once new hard drive comes in, fdisk, format, install O/S and software.

From: Coy Thorp

First thing I would do is eliminate possible problem areas.
·         I'd switch the drive to the secondary IDE chain and see if it auto configs. If not, I’d try it in another machine if that is possible (it is possible in my lab).
·         Hopefully, I'd be able to get a drive letter and boot up to recover data.
·         If neither of these work (and you're usually lucky if they do), then it's time to boot to a virus scan floppy and scan the boot sector for viruses.
·         If there are none, then I'd move to a third-party utility, like NDD, and give that a whirl. If all of those fail, then I send it out to a data recovery center and drop 1,200 bucks of my company's money to recover data that the developer should have backed up in the first place.

From: Jeffery Aronson

After the routine checks of CMOS and drive settings etc., the most important step would be to clone the drive first as it is. I would recommend a program such as ghost, but there are others available. After completing the drive clone, work with the drive that you cloned and not the original drive. You can use a program called On The Wire or Drive Wizard. These programs will attempt to rebuild the various different aspects of the drive, FAT tables, Directory Structures, Files Structure etc. In most cases, you can at least get enough of the drive back to get to that important data, and never risk the original drive.

From:Tim Danner

·         Make sure you put the drive type back to Auto in the CMOS. Then listen to hear if the drive is even spinning up. If the drive isn't spinning up, you can try the old tap technique to try and wake up the drive. If you are able to wake the drive, have the user backup important files immediately. Then replace.
·         If the dive is spinning but it still isn't seen by the POST, then you need to try and locate a drive of the same make and model. Swapping the controllers on the two drives may allow you to access the data.
·         If neither of these techniques help, then I usually tell the user to have a good cry, and then start over. But this time make sure you backup important files on a regular basis.

From: Steve Summers

I would suspect a bad disk controller first. Before I replaced it, though, if I was lucky enough to get the drive to come up, I would immediately run scan disk and scan the surface area. If everything checked out, I would replace the drive controller and see if the problem went away on the same problematic drive.

From: Chris

The way I would approach this is to use one of several disk-cloning programs such as Drive Copy or Norton Ghost. Both of these programs create boot disks that you can use to "rescue" a failing or error prone hard drive. You boot with this disk and then select either copying a partition to another partition (on another drive) or simply clone the entire hard drive. This process is very fast (depending on the machine) and very reliable. It copies all files and even preserved FAT setup and partitions when cloning a hard drive.

Another excellent tool to have in your arsenal is the Norton Boot Disks that will have the Dos versions of Norton scan disk and disk doctor as well as the Unerase and Unformat. These tools can restore lost files and correct and identify many more problems than just Microsoft scandisk even when using the 'scandisk /all' command.

Also, try replacing the IDE cable(s) to eliminate the possibility that there is a bad cable. If the error still happens, then the hard drive has probably failed. There is a remote chance that using MaxBlast or a similar hard drive utility from its manufacturer will at least identify and hopefully repair the problem. Otherwise...remember hindsight is always 20/20. Especially after you lose data...

From: Salman Siddiqui

There would be a couple of points to check before going into recovery mode:

1. Is LBA mode on or off? Toggling it and setting drive type to auto may help.
2. Was a Disk Manager type program in use? If it was, refreshing the MBR with the Disk Manager may do the trick.

If first has been tried and answer to the second question is no, I would use a low level disk editor to discover the bounds of the partitions, first and last cylinder. Remaining data, number of heads, and sectors per track can be worked out easily.

From: Thomas Bounds

Of the many different solutions that could solve this problem, I will start with the easiest.
·         First, does the drive even power up? (Do you hear the platters spinning?) If not, check all connections. Otherwise, you have just acquired another paperweight (since you will have to resort to snail mail until you can get online again).
·         If you do hear the platters spinning, I would resort to trying the simple options in BIOS such as LBA mode on or off and HDD Block mode. Change them to their opposite state and try to reboot now. There are aftermarket utilities that can detect the logical parameters of a drive such as DrivePro by Microhouse. This handy (old) tool has gotten me out of many jams in the 486 HDD world. It will tell you the parameters that the drive was set up for so that you may manually enter them into the HDD config. section of BIOS. This is also handy if you happen to be the (not so) proud owner of a drive with an overlay installed. If that is the case, you will probably want to use the overlay install disk to repair or replace the overlay.
·         The problem could be related to the HDD controller. Try replacing it. I could rant for a long time on other solutions, but I don't have time to get into it that deep.

From: William Maxwell

Hard drive failures can result from a number of causes.
·         First line of business is to talk with the client: Was the machine recently moved? Were any boards recently installed? A cable may have come loose during one of these operations. Check external causes, e.g. loose and/or oxidized connectors. Don't discard the possibility of little rodents–—I've seen flat cable gnawed through by these little critters.
·         Don't forget to check the power cable to the drive–—no juice, no data.
·         There's always a possibility that the on-board controller is shot, so to eliminate that factor I would remove the drive, jumper it to be drive 1 and install it in a known good machine.
·         That done, I turn to a setup program called EZDrive by Micro House International. With it you can read and configure drive setup data, backup and restore track 0 or copy an entire partition.
·         Summing up: First of all, be a good listener. Observe carefully, use good tools and be creative.
I got a call from a client who had been away for three weeks and had gotten back to find his machine wouldn't boot up. When I listened to his machine as it was turned on, I noticed that the drive motor wasn't spinning. Since we live in a very high humidity climate (the Amazon Rain Forest), I had an idea of what had happened. I politely asked him if he would get me a glass of water, as it was quite hot that day. As soon as he left the room I gave his drive a smart rap on the back with my knuckles. The motor immediately started spinning and by the time he came back with refreshments, Windows 95 was up and running. I emphasized the need to maintain regular backups and to purchase a good de-humidifier. I also suggested that next time he was away, he have his wife run the computer for a couple hours a day. He never pressed me as to how I got the machine running, and I thought it prudent not to offer that information.

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