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Windows 7: Harddrive issue, is my data lost?

28 Apr 2013   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
Harddrive issue, is my data lost?

Hi. A while back I encountered some problems with my computer. It started with me waking up to a black screen with white text telling me to repair windows. I restarted and there were no more worries. This happened again and again and my computer became harder and harder use. The computer would have complete lag spikes when playing games, entering files etc. became slower and slower until I couldn't boot windows at all. I bought a new SSD drive and installed windows 7 only to find a 5 minute boot time. When it finally booted, the old hard drive (which is connected a long with three other drives) was extremely difficult to handle. Accessing files was slow and the whole computer seemed slow despite having an SSD disk and fresh windows install. I moved my old hard drive to my mom's computer to see if I could extract my files (my whole life is in it), but the transfer speeds are slow and I'm getting error messages when copying certain files. I'm not sure what to do here. I know there are certain file recovery software's I can use and I tried Recuva (which is free), but when pointing it to my hard drive, it stalls for about 2-3 mins before giving me an error message. I find it odd that I can access and copy files from this hard drive through 'Computer', but that a file recovery software has troubles with it :S I need some help here

My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Apr 2013   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

In the circumstances, I would recommend that you use PhotoRec to recover all your files first. I do not want you to try anything else - not even the manufacturer's diagnostic utility.(That can come after data recovery)


1. It does not write anything to your drive in question.

2. PhotoRec ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data. It can recover almost all types of files, not necessarily photos and videos.

( IMO, a badly corrupted file system caused Windows not to boot but in its present abode, you are able to access it and copy it too but with errors because of the corrupt file system. There is still a 10% chance that that HDD is dying with more and more bad sectors being created. In either case the first priority is to recover as much as possible, and to me there is no better way than using PhotoRec)

I would also recommend that you run it under DOS bootable from a pen drive. Create your bootable DOS pen drive with Rufus Rufus - Create bootable USB drives the easy way ( I go with MS-DOS rather than FreeDos - fad )

Download TestDisk & PhotoRec 6.13 (15 November 2011), Data Recovery Dos/Win9x version from TestDisk Download - CGSecurity Extract the zip file to your C drive. You will find a folder testdisk-6.13 on your C drive. Open it, select all the files in it and copy all those files into the Dos pen drive you already created. Boot from the DOS pen drive and at the command prompt type photorec_win.exe and press enter to run it. (And yep, connect another external drive with adequate space to which you will copy files before running PhotoRec. PhotoRec should be able to see it when it runs, apart from the system drive and your problem drive. You will choose the problem drive for running the scan.)

Guide to using PhotoRec recovery software.

Also read all documentation in the author's website.

The Recovery process may take an irritatingly long time. So be patient.

Good luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Apr 2013   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

Thanks for the help I tried the software you linked and followed the guide, but the program seemed to skip a few steps (I couldn't chose which file types to search for). Once I got it running it calculated that it would finish sometime around June 2014. This didn't matter much though because I figured out that leaving the hard drive to cool for half an hour of so made it possible to transfer files :O I did find one part of the drive that couldn't really be copied from, but it didn't contain any crucial files. I have gotten everything that isn't replaceable

This brings me to another question that perhaps isn't that relevant to windows 7 in particular. I decided to check the health of my other hard drives as I have 3TB of material. I downloaded acronis drive monitor and it found crucial errors on my 1TB drive :O All errors state "may indicate imminent drive failure. Urgent data backup and hardware replacement is recommended." even though I haven't had any problems with the drive. "Reallocated Sectors Count" has a value of 79, "current pending sector count" and "uncorrectable sector count" both have a value of 100. Should I just buy a new drive ASAP?

Also, this drive that I originally had problems with, is it safe to say that it's completely borked or should I run some diagnostic tool on it? Could the drive be absolutely fine, but have some serious software issue of some kind?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Apr 2013   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Good news.

OK, that means it was a failing hard drive (which I gave only a 10% probability) and perhaps why PhotoRec gave an astonishingly long time for recovery. (It may also be a false indication. As the scanning progresses the count down may come down drastically.). Cooling was a much more acceptable way of recovering. Thanks for sharing the info and we continuously learn from user experiences.

As for checking the hard drive's health, I would rather go with the manufacturer's diagnostic utility rather than any third party software.

But as for the problem drive, it is definitely out and unreliable and should go under the hammer.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Apr 2013   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

I tried the Sea Tools diagnostic software (the hard drive is a seagate). I'm having a hard time interpreting this. The "short drive self test" (which the documentation said would be adequate in most situation" reported "fail" without saying anything else. The SMART test came back "pass" which is really odd because the Acronis drive monitor states several fails in the SMART log. On the other hand, chkdsk came back clean as well, no errors found.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Apr 2013   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Since the drive is an internal drive, you may run SeaTools for DOS and check your drive. SeaTools for DOS tutorial

You may have to burn the ISO file to a CDROM or create bootable pen drive using Rufus.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Harddrive issue, is my data lost?

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