OT. HD malfunction. Tips required

TorS wrote on 3/28/2006, 10:40 PM
It is a 250 GB Western Digital usb/firewire. It makes a clicking noise when I try to start it. It spins like it should, but does not register with the PC. On advise from WD's homepage I tried to disconnect it and restart: same clicking. WD then says replace the HD. The warranty is out and I have data on it that I would hesitate to part with, though I might not value them as much as to pay the price of professional recovery.
I have tried both usb and firewire. Since the warranty is out, I may try to open up the thing and install it as a regular hard drive - my last straw.
Do you people have any advise for me? Any dirty tricks I can pull to get this HD going again - at least as far as to allow me to recover the content?


johnmeyer wrote on 3/28/2006, 10:57 PM
Since the warranty is out, I may try to open up the thing and install it as a regular hard drive

Don't know what you mean by "open up the thing." You certainly NEVER want to actually open the drive itself.

Clicking drives are usually a really bad thing. The usual recovery steps are to find a computer where you can put it on the secondary IDE cable all by itself, install some drive recovery software, and try to copy your data to another drive. Sometimes it helps to refrigerate the drive for a few hours before connecting it, although that is usually the last step when all others have failed.

If the data is truly valuable, then a data recovery service (Ontrack) will be probably be able to recover most, if not all, of the data, assuming you haven't done anything stupid like trying to re-format the drive (worst possible thing you could do) or any similar destructive step. Under no circumstances should you do anything that would write to the drive at this point.
TorS wrote on 3/29/2006, 12:18 AM
No, I will not open the drive itself. This is a plastic remote thing with fancy lights and separate power supply. I assume there is a regular HD inside somewhere, which I can pull out and hook up inside a PC, like you suggest. I'll try the refrigurator first.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/29/2006, 12:28 AM
Ah, an external drive. The fridge (or freezer) sometimes works, but as I said, it is usually the LAST thing you do, AFTER you have tried using the disk recovery software.
Serena wrote on 3/29/2006, 2:39 AM
I used GetDataBack to recover all data from a Maxtor that the PC refused to see. But this one wasn't clicking.
gordyboy wrote on 3/29/2006, 2:48 AM
I am in the middle of a similar recovery exercise. I had a Maxtor 300gb external drive that stopped being recognised this week.

Tried swapping from USB to Firewire, combinations of different cables, daisychaining through another external drive etc. Still nothing.

I had to take the external drive to bits - very easy to do but you wave goodbye to your warranty rights as a result.

It's just a normal Maxtor drive inside and easy enough to hook up to another computer as a slave drive.

Chkdsk then kicked in on booting up XP trying to check the damaged drive but as yet, it is unable to complete its checks and error correction. The security descriptors are corrupted and as the drive is not visible in XP, none of the data can be recovered that way.

There are also 30 or so bad sectors which is undoubtedly the underlying reason for all the problems.

However, it is possible to see the drive and data in a non-Windows environment. I downloaded Knoppix, a linux based CD which installs a linux based environment on boot up. This runs fine and I can see the drive, all the files, open the files and play them etc (provided there is a linux based application that can read them).

I just can't figure out how to copy any file in Knoppix - it's something to do with all my drives being NTFS and the administrator rights needing to be changed to allow writing to NTFS drives.

Just haven't had time to sort it out (I know nothing at all about Linux and need to research the solution) but I'm fairly confident it will be possible to get all the data off that drive onto my new (Seagate) drive.

BTW, this is the second Maxtor drive in a week that has died on me - the other was an internal drive which fortunately had warning signs of not booting up properly in XP - it would hang at the log on stage. Using the Powermax software from Maxtor, this reported a disk failing error message so I was able to replace it before it died.

The other drive had no warnings at all - it just suddenly stopped being recognised when plugged in.

Still, I have had different makes of hard drive over the years and an equal number of failures - certainly I've had 3 or 4 Western Digital drives that have died.

Good luck with your recovery.


Serena wrote on 3/29/2006, 3:10 AM
GetDataBack does cost US$70, but you can download a trial which allows you to explore the drive and thus learn whether it's worth spending the money. Worked a treat for me and very little to learn about operation. There was a thread on this about 3 weeks ago (Maxtor Deaded).
gordyboy wrote on 3/29/2006, 3:17 AM
Thanks for the tip Serena.

$70 is insignificant compared to the hours of work involved in recapturing the data on the drive so I will definitely check it out tonight.


ken c wrote on 3/29/2006, 3:23 AM
I've been buying western digital external drives, to copy all the data from my maxtors over to, and from now on, just using the maxtors as secondary backups, in addition to DVDs ... so far from all the forums I've read, maxtor externals are awful ... too bad since I bought over a dozen of them..

had one of them (maxtor) die last week .. fortunately I had just backed it over to a WD external .. though I don't trust those either ... sigh ... looks like lots of time burning to DVD backups ... not helpful though with 30gig source avis ..

isn't there any unbiased site that does reliability studies on recent drives, including externals? that would be helpful, eg mtbf data and more, from a resource place that's not affiliated w/manufacturers... like a consumer report for external drives...

riredale wrote on 3/29/2006, 8:37 AM
Some suggestions:

(1) Install as a secondary (slave) drive on a PC

(2) use Spinrite, which apparently is able to fix an amazing number of problems

(3) buy an identical drive, and swap the circuit board mounted on the bottom.
TorS wrote on 3/29/2006, 1:23 PM
The freezer trick did not work. The sound changed though. It sounded more like an unhappy frog now. I'll try some of riredales's suggestions tomorrow. Good night!
craftech wrote on 3/29/2006, 3:04 PM
If you can get an identical drive cheap from Ebay or somewhere else you can open it up and swap the platters (that is where the noise is probably coming from). You will need a torx bit of the right size to open it. It's not that hard to do. You will recover virtually all of the data that way unless it has bad sectors. WD had a bad bunch of this type of drive. 120GB as well.

gordyboy wrote on 4/1/2006, 1:08 PM
Here's an update on my attempts to recover my data from a dying Maxtor 300gb external drive.

Get Back Data didn't do the trick for me unfortunately - it could never complete its initial scan
of the corrupted disc - I had three goes and it never got further than 79% and took 18 to 20 hours
on each occasion to get that far.

I gave up on Knoppix as I just don't know my way around linux - it won't allow you to change the
write permissions of an NTFS drive - well maybe it will but I don't know how to do it and as a
Windows user, it's all greek to me how to use linux.

Anyway, I googled 'write to NTFS in Linux' and found Paragon NTFS for Linux which is a driver
written so Linux can read and write to NTFS. The bootable CD version of this is working a treat and
through an old DOS style file directory view, it can see all my previously lost files and as I speak
it is happily copying them to a new partiton on my new drive.

Onnly $19.95 which I can tell you as far as I am concerned right at this moment is the bargain of
the century!


Serena wrote on 4/1/2006, 2:22 PM
Good to hear that you solved the problem.
jaydeeee wrote on 4/2/2006, 3:01 PM
Once again - all drives can/wil fail, but seagate still has the better record for IDE drive failures. Maxtor is fast becoming the worst (of the name drives).

Even better scenario are scsi drives which have drastically better MTBF ( with overall hd failures).

TorS wrote on 4/3/2006, 3:22 AM
I am glad to see you're getting somewhere with the Paragon NTFS for Linux. I fear I might not be as lucky, because the drive simply does not start. It clicks loudly a few times (3 or 4 series of clicks really) and then nothing. It spins like it should, I believe. I pulled it out of its case and installed it as an internal - still nothing. The WD faq says replace the disk, which tells me this is a known behaviour. First time I have seen it, though.
The WD Lifeguard Diagnostics program sees the disk and reports it unavailable. The tests fail and report read diagnostics sector error.

If someone argues that Linux may make contact with a disk when Windows will not, I might still try the Paragon thing.
gordyboy wrote on 4/3/2006, 4:55 AM
Well - I am a bit concerned by the clicking noise you have reported which sounds like a mechanical fault rather than a logical fault which I think was the main problem with my drive due to corrupted security descriptors but you say the drive it seems to be spinning normally after initial boot up.

In terms of XP, this drive was visible in file explorer but with a big nasty cross through it and clicking on it would not reveal any more detail and system would hang or crash.

In Linux however, all the existing folders and files were visible.

Why not download the bootable disc version of Knoppix to see if anything is visible through Linux? That is free although it is a 700mb download.

If that works, might well be worth trying Paragon.

Good luck