General Question

shockvalue's avatar

Quickest way to retrieve information from a broken Hard Drive?

Asked by shockvalue (5800points) February 1st, 2009

nameless friend broke one of my external hard drives (thank god it wasn’t my music collection) but I have now lost all home work I need to turn in tomorrow, along with any projects I have been working or completed in the last 8 months. Not to mention 200+ gigs of photos and movies.

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10 Answers

artificialard's avatar

It’s somewhat of a myth but apparently sometimes you can freeze a hard drive to get it working again.


* Don’t move or power it on anymore than absolutely necessary. Likely any further use of the drive will further degrade the data. If you get it on, go for your important data first as it can go again anytime.

* Try extracting the hard drive from the case and using another case with it

* You know that friend that’s kind of pale because never goes out due to being in the middle of a ‘clan war’? Get the friend that broke it to bribe him with some pizza or whateves to help you out.

* Worst-case scenario you can use a data recovery service that will CSI-ninja the stuff out of the drive if it’s even possible. Be prepared though to spend at least $800+ for even an incomplete recovery.

Operate with the worst-case scenario as you try these hail-marys. Email your prof, and document any repairs, damage reports as proof (although this is not really a valid excuse).

* Maybe check through your sent/deleted email or anyone you might’ve sent parts (proofreading?) that you can recover. Check anywhere else, maybe a USB key that’s your or a friend’s you copied the project onto for printing.

* Did you submit any drafts to or a similar plagerism checking service? They’ll have a copy.

eambos's avatar

Is it the hdd itself or the enclosure it’s in? If it just wont power up or connect, try removing the hdd and placing it in a new enclosure.

If that doesnt work, the hdd itself is broekn or the data is corrupt. If that is the case, then you, my friend, may be screwed.

TaoSan's avatar


a) Mac or PC?
b) Does the drive power up and isn’t recognized, or is it plain death?
c) If it powers up, does it make weird clanking/scraping noises?
d) What’s the model? (to consider the controller)
e) Do not freeze your drive, it my create condensation on metal surfaces turning ambient air moisture into actual water drops in the inner housing when thawing!!!!!

shockvalue's avatar

bah! it’s mostly illustration and graphic design work, both personal and professional projects. I emailed all my teachers already and just told them that i would be re-doing it, so please understand if the work is not up to par due to the hurried efforts.

a) Mac
b)Drive powers up, not recognised.
c) yes. oh god yes
d)It’s a WD passport, the fancy mac one (not that formatting actually matters)
e) Freezer is broken anyway!

thanks guys, I think I’ll have to take it to Tekserve

TaoSan's avatar


I had the very same problem with a WD, DiskWarrior did the job for me. The clanking might just be the drive (unsuccessfully) trying to find the mounting point.

DW can actually even rebuild stuff from a physically damaged platter.

shockvalue's avatar

hmm… How much does it cost? Because If it doesn’t work, I’ll be even deeper in the hole when I have to cough up 800+ bucks to get the thing professionally data mined.

Damn supply and demand!

TaoSan's avatar

99 Bucks

Guess I could “loan” it to you for 1-time use if you promise to delete it afterwards :)

Jack79's avatar

I had 2 HDD broken recently. Took them to a specialist that charged me only 1800CK ($80), but it was a partial recovery. I did get most of the important stuff though (which was my daughter’s pictures and videos plus some legal documents and so on). The other drive had some vital evidence I need for court and I told them to take their time and do whatever’s necessary but get it done. They couldn’t, but knew someone else who could. I expect to pay at least $300 for it though.

For easier tasks (such as not recognising file names) I find that an old PC with Win98 does the trick. Sometimes I go into DOS and copy the files manually if windows won’t see them.

lercio's avatar

Seriously, try Spinwrite

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