Laptop Drive "Unmountable" - Data Recovery Odds?

My laptop HD crashed hard a few days ago. It refuses to load Windows in any way, shape or form, and all the usual diagnostic techniques have failed me.

**Before you start recommending possible fixes, know this: I've already tried it. Whatever you're about to suggest, I've tried it. Trust me. The drive, she is dead.

My question: what are the odds I'll be able to recover my data, and how would one go about doing so?

Fletcher wrote:
Before you start recommending possible fixes, know this: I've already tried it and failed.

P.S. Anyone got any possible fixes ?

Uh... despite the paradoxical nature of your post, I will still suggest

a) connecting a new hard drive
b) installing a Win2k/XP onto that hard drive
c) running chkdsk DRIVELETTER: /R (full surface scan) on that hard drive
d) seeing if the surface scan fails to initiate... and if it goes through, seeing if you can see your folder structure (after taking ownership of the entire drive in Permissions tab)

Unless you mean using the uh, metaphysical methods. There's one method that is commonly recommended but I haven't tried, and another, which nobody recommended but it worked for me.

1) put it in a freezer for a few hours, then quickly connect it and copy as much vital data off of it as possible before it goes dead again.

2) (mine) mount it upside down. This prolonged the life of a dying Quantum 6gb drive I had many years ago. It simply refused to work one day until I turned it upside down.

Oh and

3) call professional data recovery services to recover your data for $1000. Chance of success: high.

Laptop drive your best off getting a $10-$15 usb case for 2.5" drives and trying to mount it on another PC.. and then doing the above.

3) is last ditch..but usually gets 99%-100% back.. its just expensive.

shihonage wrote:

a) connecting a new hard drive
b) installing a Win2k/XP onto that hard drive
c) running chkdsk DRIVELETTER: /R (full surface scan) on that hard drive
d) seeing if the surface scan fails to initiate... and if it goes through, seeing if you can see your folder structure (after taking ownership of the entire drive in Permissions tab)

If you can boot to CD you can do the same thing with a BartPE disc.

Also from BartPE if you've added the laptop NIC drivers and can browse to see the data from it's file explorer you should be able to UNC to another PC on the network and copy it off. You can do the same thing if it has got a burner and you've put burning software in your Bart build.

If you don't like the free BartPE and can write if off as a business expense, you can get the Emergency DL version of Winternals AdminPak. It's 500$ (wow it used to be 250$ but you didn't get everything and it was only for 3 days I think) but it can do some amazing stuff.

I've always used the USB external case and running chkdisk here at work when a laptop won't load Windows 2K. 99% of the time the boot sector gets corrupted and you'll get a blue screen INACESSABLE_BOOT_DEVICE, or "missing operating system" message. With the USB case you can plug it into any other PC and run the checks, just make sure you don't have the drive enumerated, or it will tell you it doesn't have full control of the drive and set for next reboot.

shihonage wrote:
Fletcher wrote:
Before you start recommending possible fixes, know this: I've already tried it and failed.

P.S. Anyone got any possible fixes ?

I think you're unfairly misquoting me here, bud.

Anyway, as I intimated, CHKDSK is a no-go on this drive as-is. The USB case and BartPE cd suggestions are exactly what I was looking for. I didn't know those things existed. Thanks, guys. The new drive should be here today. I'll keep you posted if I'm able to recover anything.

NTFS Recovery is a decent tool for recovery. I've had good luck with it even if Windows can't read the disk. It's $100 though to recover files larger than 64k (48k maybe?). The trial version might be good enough depending on what you want to recover.

I've heard some VERY good things about Spinrite.

Brannil wrote:
I've heard some VERY good things about Spinrite.

I was a fan of Spinrite until recently when two things happened:

1) it did a worse job recovering a disk than the chkdsk command, after hanging.
2) I read several rebuttals on SA Tech forums about the author of this program claiming it can do all sorts of metaphysical magical things that no program really can do, and how it was tested to in fact not do any of those things.

Fletcher wrote:

I think you're unfairly misquoting me here, bud.

No, I'm really not.

Fletcher wrote:

My question: what are the odds I'll be able to recover my data, and how would one go about doing so?

Ok, well, first we need to make sure we can READ the actual data from your drive, as in, it not being DEAD. Then...

Fletcher wrote:

Whatever you're about to suggest, I've tried it. Trust me. The drive, she is dead.

Oh snap

Fletcher wrote:

Anyway, as I intimated, CHKDSK is a no-go on this drive as-is. The USB case and BartPE cd suggestions are exactly what I was looking for. I didn't know those things existed.

If you ran CHKDSK on the drive and it was unable to do anything, doing the same thing off a BartPE disc or even worse, through a slow and rather buggy USB connection (most enclosures are crap) will not help you.

I think you're stuck with the freezer, man.

shihonage wrote:
Oh snap ;)

Save it for the P&C shiho.

I thought I was fairly polite with my request for help, which some folks offerred graciously without trying to insult me in the process. Not sure why you feel the need, but it's not appreciated.

shihonage wrote:
If you ran CHKDSK on the drive and it was unable to do anything, doing the same thing off a BartPE disc or even worse, through a slow and rather buggy USB connection (most enclosures are crap) will not help you.

I think you're stuck with the freezer, man.

Agreed. I recently had my primary storage drive fail and couldn't get it up and running regardless of what I tried (including the freezer trick). Unfortunately I hadn't backed up in about a year and since that would mean losing about a gig worth of family photos, I decided to drop the money and send it off to a recovery center. Long story short, I ended up going with Gillware because of three reasons: 1) I couldn't pay the big bucks that a lot of the better known places charge, 2) they don't charge anything if they don't get what you want -and- 3) they have a clean room -- which you almost certainly need to recover data from a mechanical malfunction.

Unfortunately, most of my 160GB drive was ruined due to a malfunctioning head -- which may be a good reason to cease trying to recover the drive yourself immediately as you could be doing further damage to the platters. They did manage to scrape off ~500 MB worth of photos and ended up charging me less than the full amount since they couldn't recover everything that I wanted. It set me back ~$500, which hurts bad, but at least I have my 2 year olds b-day photos and a good life lesson to back up far more regularly. Good luck Fletch.

Chum

PS. No, I'm not a plant of other piece of foliage. If you decide to go the recovery route, look around and find the best deal you can at a company that has a clean room.

Fletcher wrote:

Save it for the P&C shiho.

I thought I was fairly polite with my request for help, which some folks offerred graciously without trying to insult me in the process. Not sure why you feel the need, but it's not appreciated.

I thought I was supposed to be the one who sees everything as an insult ? You can't take that away from me, damn you

shihonage wrote:
Fletcher wrote:

Save it for the P&C shiho.

I thought I was fairly polite with my request for help, which some folks offerred graciously without trying to insult me in the process. Not sure why you feel the need, but it's not appreciated.

I thought I was supposed to be the one who sees everything as an insult ? You can't take that away from me, damn you ;)

Fine. But I insist on getting the last word, ya bastid.

If you ran CHKDSK on the drive and it was unable to do anything, doing the same thing off a BartPE disc or even worse, through a slow and rather buggy USB connection (most enclosures are crap) will not help you.

Thats not always true.. I've recovered data off drives using an external usb enclosure many times.. drives that seemed to be beyond hope.. as long as it can be read and mounted by the host PC.. usually with enough time an patience I've gotten 80%+ off the drive..

Many times you simply have to use the process of elimination.. if during copying a specific folder it dies each time.. you have to start copying parts of the folder until you isolate where it fails.. then you skip that file/folder.

TheGameguru wrote:

Many times you simply have to use the process of elimination.. if during copying a specific folder it dies each time.. you have to start copying parts of the folder until you isolate where it fails.. then you skip that file/folder.

This also can be automated by using

xcopy c:\*.* d:\recovery /e /c /h

where /c is the parameter that ignores reading errors, C: is the damaged drive and d:\recovery is the destination folder.

The downside is that it won't just skip corrupted files, it will still copy them best it can, while filling unreadable pieces with zeroes. Sometimes, however, this is an upside - when you need to recover as much of an important document as possible.

last word

NTFS Recovery will work where CHKDSK says, "WTF, mate?"

And to make a meta-reference: