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Is there any hope for this HDD?

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#1
JorgeA

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The other day my wife went on a vacuuming frenzy in the family room. Luckily (or not; read on), I happened to be right there when she reached the TV area connected to our PC running Windows Media Center and a couple of external USB hard disk drives. The system was live at the time; she went to disconnect the electrical adapter of one of these external drives from the surge protector so that she could run the vacuum over the surge protector, and I think I caught that action in time. (The prongs may have come some distance off the outlet without disconnecting completely.) Next she proceeded to vacuum over and around the external HDD itself.

 

Later that day, I wanted to perform some maintenance on the WMC system by copying shows off the internal HDD to the external USB drives. All the programs that I copied to one particular drive (J:) went fine, but I got an error message every time I tried to copy to the drive that maybe got unplugged (K:). I can't remember the message exactly, as it didn't make any sense to me -- something about the location that I was copying from (meaning, the C: drive) not existing.

 

I tried clicking directly from Windows Explorer on some of the shows that were still listed for the K: drive. WMC would load, but nothing played. Then I clicked on shows that were on the C: or J: drives, and WMC loaded and then played them normally. The listing of recorded programs showed all the recordings on that K: drive.

 

Next I tried de-selecting the K: drive as a WMC library and then re-selecting it. Didn't help -- the shows were listed again but I could not play them. At some point I got a "Video error" message about the files necessary to play these programs not being available.

 

My memory of the events is a bit fuzzy, but IIRC at this point I rebooted the computer to see if that took care of the problem. Windows booted up fine, but now the recordings on the K: drive didn't show up. And now Windows Explorer was showing the drive as empty. Moreover, the PC became slow as molasses.

 

Try rebooting again, and this time the PC freezes at the splash screen showing the various options at bootup. Won't load Windows, can't get into the BIOS or Recovery -- nothing.

 

Disconnected the K: drive -- and now the PC boots into Windows again. I go into Event Viewer, and there are a ton of errors labeled "Event ID 51", with the description reading "An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk\DRx" (I could check for the exact text if necessary).

 

By this point I know that I have a serious problem with that drive. I connected it to a laptop, which loaded some drivers and assigned it a letter but couldn't find anything on it. Then I hooked it up to a Vista tower. It knew there was something there, but no letter was assigned. Went into Disk Management; not only would that application not finish loading, but then explorer.exe crashed, I lost my taskbar, and the Sidebar background went black. Restarting explorer.exe from Task Manager didn't do anything. When I tried to reboot, that PC froze, too.

 

Hoping to get S.M.A.R.T. data and some repair options, I tried booting the system into a Linux Live CD, but I got a long series of error messages reading something like "device descriptor read/64, error -110". So I disconnected the drive and booted into the Live CD, then reconnected the drive, but while the OS found the drive, it simply called it "File System" and didn't even assign it a device ID (or whatever you call it, it's that arcane "dev/sdx" type identifier).

 

The next step was to remove the HDD from its case and try connecting it directly as an internal drive, in case it was the case connector that had been fried. I'll spare you the gory details of trying to pry the d*mn case open -- I still have the scars on my thumbs -- but when I connected it to yet another PC, that system wouldn't get past the POST screen either.

 

The drive does spin up when connected to power, and various computers find some aspect of it. Two questions: (1) is there any hope of retrieving the data from it?; and (2) what could have happened to the drive?

 

Additional details: a few days before this incident, we had gotten another "Video error" WMC message when trying to play a movie. The movie was probably on that K: drive, but I can't be sure as I don't remember what the title was. We didn't think anything of it and I didn't take particular note of the event. Also, after opening the case and connecting it to a PC, I notice that the drive gets VERY hot.

 

So in light of these two details I wonder if maybe the drive (a Seagate SRD0SD1 2TB external USB HDD) was going bad anyway and my wife's actions had nothing to do with it.

 

A Web search turned up some possible causes but no dominant theory as to what may have happened. What do you think? Comments? Ideas? Suggestions?

 

Thanks for getting all the way through this long post, I was trying to provide as much info as I could remember.

 

--JorgeA


Edited by JorgeA, 28 June 2014 - 08:24 AM.



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#2
jaclaz

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The "An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk\DRx" are usually typical of an issue with communicating to a hard disk (as an example they were very common when you used with ATA drives a 40 wires IDE cable instead of the required 80 wires one), i.e. an interface issue of some kind.
 
But all the rest of the details sound more like a hard disk corruption problem, hopefully only at the filesystem level.
 
IF this latter is the case, usually contents can be recovered, at least partially.
 
It is also possible that there are TWO issues, one at a lower hardware level (issues in communication/interface) and one at a higher level (filesystem) and that the one caused the other, i.e. it ispossible that the first is an intermittent error that caused and still causes the second.
 
Since the files on it are (presumably) very large video files, it is possible that even what we can manage to recover will not be entirely "intact" (i.e. it is possible that you will have as a result one or more videos that won't play "normally" or that will need to be manualy corrected, very possibly losing some frames).
 
The disk being 2Tb in size does not help much (because it is HUGE and surely it has been partitioned in a single HUGE volume).
 
The "standard" procedure is the following:

  • procure yourself TWO larger disks (let's say  2.5 or 3 Tb each) AND a similar sized 2Tb disk
  • attempt ddrescueing the whole disk to an image on one of the two 2.5/3 Tb disks <- if this fails next step is a professional recovery firm
  • make a copy of the image on the other 2.5/3 Tb disk
  • attempt recovery of the filesystem on the second image
  • if this fails attempt recovery of the contents (files) out of the second image saving them to the new 2Tb disk
Step #1 can be "simplified" (with only a slight increase in risks) into procuring only one larger disk and using if needed other storage space you may have available for (eventually) step #5.
 
It all depends on how much you value the data on the disk, how much you can afford for a proper (still DIY) recovery procedure or you can afford a professional recovery attempt and/or how much you like gambling ;).
 
jaclaz

#3
JorgeA

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Thanks greatly, jaclaz. I'll look into ddrescue as soon as I get the chance to and see if I can get this procedure to work.

 

The entire contents of the drive are movies and old episodes of TV series, so it's not worth going to a professional recovery shop if that's the only way to do it. In fact, my better half said she felt relieved that suddenly we had so much less stuff to watch.  :)  But I do have some programs in there that I'd like to retrieve if it can be done at home, so I will definitely try ddrescue and see what happens. (The three big drives needed were already lying around waiting to be used for something.)

 

With any luck, we'll be able to save something. I'll report back.

 

--JorgeA






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