Recovering from a Hard Disk failure
I use several Cloud Storage options to backup data; however I rely heavily on local backup options. The 175 Gb external hard disk that I use for all my important backups suddenly became RAW! A RAW drive is a hard drive partition which has not been formatted with the file system neither FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 nor NTFS/NTFS5. Windows does not recognise RAW disks. My drive was originally NTFS; I had thought I had heard some hard drive clicking sounds during the last backup but I was distracted by other work at the time and foolishly ignored it. When I went to back up my files last weekend I was met with the following screen!
A chkdsk command told me that the file system was now in RAW format. A disk Management session added no additional information so I guessed that the boot sector or partition table on the disk was corrupted. At this point I decided that trying to recover the files from the disk would provide content for a blog so I started to document my recovery attempts.
I searched the Web for recovery or disk repair software and after reading several reviews I downloaded and installed M3 RAW drive recovery. This piece of software will repair a RAW drive and convert it back to either FAT or NTFS format.
Here are a number of screenshots of this process.
Unfortunately after almost three hours of investigation M3 RAW was unable to repair the drive. Plan B was to find a program that would scan the disk drive and find files on the disk without having access to the normal file methods that are available when an external disk is mounted in the Windows environment.
This time around I downloaded and installed EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard trial version. I ran the program and left it overnight to deep scan the disk. Here are screenshots of this process.
The deep scan successfully found and identified all of the files that were on the disk but unavailable to Windows Explorer. The report listed files by type and also correctly identified the folder structure that had been on the drive before it had become corrupted. The trial version can only recover a limited amount of files and once I was satisfied that these were available to me I then went back to web, bought the software and activated it with a serial number that was supplied after the purchase was made. For the purposes of this blog I selected several small files to document an actual recovery process but in as short a time as possible; the full recovery process took a considerable amount of time.
In the last screen shot of the recovery process above, note the folder structure indicating the automatically created recovery folder within my chosen destination. These three files are intact, have the original file name and are now available to me and applications on my PC.
I was able to reformat the 175 Gb disk after recovering all of the files; I can write and read to and from it so my next step is to spend some time examining the disk in greater detail before I commit to using it again. There are specific software tools available, depending on the manufacturer of the disk, that will check for bad sectors on the disk. The strange clicking noise I heard is probably an indication of physical damage and if that is the case then the disk will become another piece of clutter!