Data Recovery Software Recommendations?

Anyone have any recommendations for software to try and recover some data from a hitachi travelstar hdd?

Hopefully of the not too expensive or free variety.

I have one called R-linux that works for linux file systems and it works great and is free. I am looking for the equivalent that works for NTFS.

The drive is degrading big time. I used to be able to get it to boot to the safe mode selection. Now it gets a boot error. I have tried connecting it to a usb-laptop IDE converter and windows doesn't recognize it.

If the drive isn't even being recognized anymore, you're in trouble.

The only program I know of that MIGHT be able to resurrect that drive is Spinrite. But I don't know if it even works on SATA drives properly. The author updated it a number of years ago, but I think that was in the PATA days -- the utility originally comes from the era of MFM hard drives, back in the prehistoric era of actual IBM XTs and ATs.

I think I ended up buying "GetDataBack" to recover some important stuff from my mom's computer a few years ago. I don't think I found a good free NTFS recovery tool, but that was at least 3 or 4 years ago.

I used to recommend SpinRite (I'm a license owner) but based on a number of recent experiences and other things I've come across lately, I now believe it's basically snake oil and I don't believe Steve Gibson is nearly as qualified on many subjects (including data recovery) as he likes to consider himself. From what I've read, I wouldn't expect to see it updated again any time soon if ever. Don't waste your money on it and yeah, it won't work anyway if the drive can't be detected.

GetDataBack on the other hand runs on voodoo and awesomeness. I've had this thing retrieve gigs of data from drives that did little more than click. We bought a license for the office and have used it regularly. It's fantastic.

The only caveat with almost any non-professional solution is that all the drives could be detected by the BIOS. If they can't, the software doesn't know what to look for. In those scenarios, a professional solution may sadly be your only option. We're lucky in that there's a local one-man recovery company here in Ottawa that's not nearly as expensive (relatively speaking) as other places and he does amazing work. This guy will talk your ear off about SpinRite if you let him. His web site is here if you want to check what he does and and I know he will accept drives sent in from afar.

My dad bought a copy of Spinrite when his hard drive crashed back in the fall of 2010. It churned on the drive for about 2 months and in the end, didn't recover a damn thing.

Not a ringing endorsement.

Tyrian wrote:

My dad bought a copy of Spinrite when his hard drive crashed back in the fall of 2010. It churned on the drive for about 2 months and in the end, didn't recover a damn thing.

Not a ringing endorsement.

I have saved a few disks for enough time to get data off with HDAT2 which is essentially a free alternative to Spinrite. Although, when the motor is failing or the drives not detected by the BIOS there is not much you can do aside from sending it to a recovery place.

@Parallax
Aside from knowing that a drive can never be "rejuvenated" what problem do you have with Spinrite? If your only using it to attempt to recover data and don't have the funds to send it to a pro I think its worth a shot.

EvilDead wrote:

@Parallax
Aside from knowing that a drive can never be "rejuvenated" what problem do you have with Spinrite? If your only using it to attempt to recover data and don't have the funds to send it to a pro I think its worth a shot.

It just doesn't work. I've had it "recover" one drive that wasn't that badly damaged to begin with. Every other drive I've tried it would grind often for days and never be able to complete and in some cases, it made the drive substantially worse, rendering 2 of them undetectable by the BIOS. If you can see the drive and just need your data, use GetDataBack. If the drive is so badly damaged that it can't work its magic to get your data, then my recommendation is to send it away. Also yeah, the fact that Gibson claims the tool can be used in "surface refresh" mode to actively prevent damage is bollocks. Run a CHKDSK on the drive every few months and it does the same thing. You can't prevent motor or logic board failures with it and things like sticktion haven't been an issue for the better part of 20 years now.

I can only speak of my personal experience but what I know about SpinRite is that it's $89 ($10 more than GetDataBack), hasn't been updated since 2004 (though when I listened to SecurityNOW!, Gibson kept swearing a new version was coming soon), requires very particular BIOS support that many new systems don't have and the majority of the time, it doesn't fix anything and in many cases makes things worse. It can fix lightly damaged drives but in those cases, so can a CHKDSK /F /R. Also, multiple data recovery professionals I've spoken to love GetDataBack and call SpinRite "overpriced snake oil".

I can't speak for Spinrite (I haven't tried it in years), only for HDAT2 which is pretty similar. About a month ago I had a failing OS drive that would lock up while transferring files, running CHKDSK, or creating a backup image. I did a recovery run on HDAT2 which took over 12 hours but it was able to relocate all the data off the bad sectors. I made a complete bootable clone which I was then able to run CHKDSK on and transfer the files I needed.

I will have to check out GetDataBack too since it is highly recommended here.

Yeah, thanks for the recommendations. I will try GetDataBack soon.

It ended up the customer mentioned that data recovery services were on the table so I dropped everything I was doing, put the drive in a static free bag and told him to go for it. Any more time I spent on it would only worsen the data recovery odds at that point.

Also yeah, the fact that Gibson claims the tool can be used in "surface refresh" mode to actively prevent damage is bollocks.

This was entirely possible at one time, and apparently he'd managed to figure out how to do this in the PATA days. But I am not at all certain that it still works on SATA drives. Things have, very gradually, changed quite a lot in drive technology, and I'm not sure the same low-level functions are available anymore. Spinrite may THINK it's getting access to the 'bare metal', as it were, but the drive may be lying about it.

It's not so much 'actively preventing' damage, by the way, it's detecting damage and moving the sector to a reserve one before the data is unrecoverable.

EvilDead wrote:

I can't speak for Spinrite (I haven't tried it in years), only for HDAT2 which is pretty similar. About a month ago I had a failing OS drive that would lock up while transferring files, running CHKDSK, or creating a backup image. I did a recovery run on HDAT2 which took over 12 hours but it was able to relocate all the data off the bad sectors. I made a complete bootable clone which I was then able to run CHKDSK on and transfer the files I needed.

I will definitely check out HDAT2 as an alternative. I'm certain there are utilities in the SpinRite universe that can work well, I just don't believe SpinRite is that tool.

Malor wrote:

This was entirely possible at one time, and apparently he'd managed to figure out how to do this in the PATA days. But I am not at all certain that it still works on SATA drives. Things have, very gradually, changed quite a lot in drive technology, and I'm not sure the same low-level functions are available anymore. Spinrite may THINK it's getting access to the 'bare metal', as it were, but the drive may be lying about it.

It's not so much 'actively preventing' damage, by the way, it's detecting damage and moving the sector to a reserve one before the data is unrecoverable.

Sorry, I meant damage to data as opposed to the drive. Gibson doesn't claim that refreshing surfaces can actively prevent bad sectors. The thing is, modern SMART technology often actively performs this function anyway. It's by no means perfect but many modern drives are able to do their own preventative maintenance to a point. I always found it funny because when pitching SpinRite on SecurityNOW!, he would often sidetrack himself into discussions about that point, in a way actively anti-selling his product.