Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

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Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:53 pm

Anyone got real good experience recovering data?

I know about a few tricks over the years, I've dealt with a few dying drives, some unrecoverable some not.

Anyhow, thing is this drive is a weird one.
No reported bad sectors.
Spindle motor is totally fine, not ceased (so freezer trick is meaningless)
Drive isn't better when cold or hot.

The problem is the drive is reading at /literally/ 1kb/s in most sectors of the disk. It also unfortunately will have copy / "I/O ERROR" in Ztree when copying some files. Others files it copies without issue, slowly but perfectly good files.
There's a 12GB directory I'd particularly like, I've managed to get about 9gb of it. Is there a tool to endlessly retry? or somehow copy and ignore errors? I dunno.
I already know about DDRescue or whatever it is, but that's a full disk image dump, considering the drive speeds, not an option really.
Similar with spinrite, I believe it's going to basically spend forever across the whole surface, when all I care about is one 12gb section.


I'm unsure if the disk is doing some kind of sector remapping or what - chckdsk simply isn't an option. Takes long enough on a 3TB disk that's running 100MB/s - current speeds it simply times out (chkdsk)
Any ideas? The data isn't SUPER SUPER important but I'm happy to leave it in a caddy running for weeks on end if some kind of tool can coax the data off, it's worth a shot at least before I give up on it.

Also - anyone seen this before? SUPER slow disk? What could it be?
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:16 pm

I've done quite a bit of data recovery, and DDRescue has been the best tool I've found for drives that are in really bad shape. It's not ideal in certain scenarios, like the partial 12GB recovery in your case. (I've had ddrescue jobs that were left going for weeks/months, and was amazed to have gotten viable data in similar situations where the I/O throughput was just marginally above 0b/s.)

Do a search for "roadkill unstoppable copier" and you'll find a handy free utility that might be worth trying. It lets you target specific files/folders, set a number of read retries, etc - sounds like it might be a good tool for this type of recovery.

Always baffled me when I would run into a drive with these same type of symptoms; appears to be functional, no bad sectors, etc, but would perform so unbelievably slow. Never found a good answer when doing a bit of searching, so I'm curious if anyone has a good explaination for the behavior.
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:21 pm

Try copying one directory at a time, and start with data that the drive hasn't attempted yet. If you find that the entire drive is slow, then you've almost ruled out media and head problems, as it's unusual to find both surfaces and both heads (on a single platter drive) damaged. If it's a multi-platter drive and all the data transfer is slow, then you're almost certainly looking at faulty drive electronics - positioning, preamp, or PRML.

Does the unit ID quickly?
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:55 pm

Yeah the drive appears to identify itself fairly quickly but even opening the filesystem in explorer / ztree becomes incredibly slow.
EDIT: it also is now doing the tick .... tick ... thing - like it's seeking.
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:04 pm

He's dead, Jim.
(this space intentionally left blank)
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:27 pm

I just managed to run a smart on it - yeah re-allocated sectors after all, damn :( what a shame.
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:36 pm

Don't know if that would help, but that program that Steve Gibson wrote, for some error's at a time it could do wonders... SpinRite
Never tried it myself, but from what I read it was suppose to be able to fix some form of errors. Don't know if there is a trial available or something?
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:04 pm

Spinrite will scan the entire disk - considering the current read speeds, I'd estimate that to be in the thousands of hours range at the moment.
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Re: Dying disk, recovery suggestions?

Postposted on Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:14 am

AbRASiON wrote:Spinrite will scan the entire disk - considering the current read speeds, I'd estimate that to be in the thousands of hours range at the moment.


Yeah that's the big downside to Spinrite. If anything can fix the drive it's Spinrite (even if only temporarily), but unless you have some extremely valuable/important data it usually won't be worth it because of the sheer amount of time it takes. You can get Spinrite to only work on a single partition, but AFAIK you can't select individual directories, so if your whole drive is one partition it will still take forever.

I was working on someone's laptop and it took almost 3 weeks for Spinrite to repair it enough to get most of the data off of it, and that was only a half-full 320GB drive. It really depends on how much of the drive has problems too, but if you are having trouble copying a bunch of random files chances are it's a widespread problem with the disk.

Sorry I don't have a better answer, but if such a utility (one that works quickly and is still effective) exists I've never heard of it. There are always those data recovery services where they actually read data straight from the platters, but as I'm sure you know those services are VERY expensive.
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