View Full Version : Very loud grinding notebook hard drive. Unable to recover info...

13-03-2012, 09:35 PM
Hi all,
A friend has dropped off his 7 year old HP laptop to me saying it's very loud and won't boot up. I traced the fault to the internal hard drive (noise sounded like a dusty CPU fan, quite loud!)
After removing and installing into external enclosure, I ran GetDataBack and it displayed quite a few I/O errors and was unable to get to stage 2... ("choose file tree structure to recover from" which displayed nothing in the list).

Any ideas on how to retrieve data with the drive in this state or have we reached a forensic level of recovery?

Cheers ;)

13-03-2012, 09:48 PM
Those errors are not good, coupled with the description of the noise.

If the data is that important dont piss about with it, you'll do more damage than good. Send it to the experts, but expect to pay in excess of $1000 -- that comes back to the question -- is it that important ?

13-03-2012, 09:51 PM
when they make grinding or loud noises the chances of anything short of professional recovery services working are slim. It could be a bearing in which case you may have a shot, or the heads could be grinding away the disk surface a little more every time you fire it up.
I have heard of people putting them in a plastic bag and freezing them, then quickly firing it up and retrieving data but it always sounded more like a way to further damage the drive to me. I suppose it's theoretically possible to put the platters into an identical model drive if you could get one, probably not in practice though (these things aren't built to be hand assembled).

13-03-2012, 09:57 PM
yeah that is beyond any means of cheap recovery. Unless the info is worth a substantial amount of money then maybe just try what dugimodo said and put the platters into a different drive. the drives shouldnt have to be identicle. And i wouldnt do the freeze thing it sounds like hassle.

13-03-2012, 10:55 PM
If it is critical data, leave it alone and start saving.

If it is just 'important', bearing in mind that these are last resort methods, have at it ... :)

I've had success with the freezer method, on two occasions!
I've also extracted data from an open drive after manually 'freeing up' the head assembly

I agree with dugimodo on swapping platters, it WOULD need to be identical, but it very likely would be impossible to do correctly by hand without specialist gear.

14-03-2012, 07:15 AM
Yeah I wouldn't attempt the platter thing, the most likely result is ruining a new drive without fixing the old. I just mentioned it as a possibility if you're desperate.
A work mate pulled apart an old faulty hard drive out of interest once, not from a PC but out of a telephone exchange and about 3 times the physical size. The magnets out of it were so powerful that if you stuck them together or to something metal you needed tools to pry them apart again. Imagine trying to work near that in a tiny little hard drive with a screwdriver.

14-03-2012, 07:29 AM
Well i guess actually making a working drive rather than something that just has alot of torque is slightly different when it comes to changing platters.

14-03-2012, 12:33 PM
I've also had luck with the freezer method. I don't have the nads to fully freeze a drive, so I wrap a bunch of those chill pack things inside tea towels and sandwich the drive between these cool packs. Give it a wee while to chill, then fire it up and get busy.

14-03-2012, 01:57 PM
You can also DIY a head swap. Theres a few tutorials out there.
Could be the head has come off , so the arm is grinding some mini groves in the platter ???


14-03-2012, 04:47 PM
^ doesn't exposing the drive toast it anyway? Dust particles, etc. I think you need a special filtered/clean room environment.

14-03-2012, 07:07 PM
You could try something like ddrescue as this will go over the whole drive and copy off any good data on the first run.
On the second run it will try and recover any data in sectors it had trouble with the first time.

However if the drive has a mechanical fault then probably won't work.

14-03-2012, 07:57 PM
no as long as you keep em clean... a single bit of dust wont wreck a drive.

14-03-2012, 08:31 PM
Dust wont do it any good either. As Renegade mentioned - real recovery experts use a special filtered/clean room environment.

If the drive is opened and fiddled with and you dont know what you are doing, then there goes any chances of a good recovery.

This may sound harsh - but its the truth - seen way to many people stuff recoverable data:

To be completely honest, if you have to ask here on a public forum how to do it, you dont have the skills or knowledge.

Keep in mind, any suggestion made here by people regarding drive disassembly - You can bet your boots if it all turns to custard and even more damage is done the people making suggestions wont offer to help pay for a proper recovery.

14-03-2012, 09:04 PM
Well yeah ...
I clearly stated that these are "last resort" options and if the data was worth spending money to recover to leave the drive alone.
The methods offered are clearly destructive, with NO warranty of success whatsoever, but can be fun and educational, and if you are lucky you MAY get some data recovered.
If the other alternative is binning it, what is there to loose?

14-03-2012, 09:06 PM
Yeah. I or any pther sane person wouldnt fiddile with a drive that has important data on it. All i hve or have ever had is old school stuff and games.

15-03-2012, 09:32 PM
Thanks for all your posts people. Well the verdict is....forensic time!
It's apparent that the drive has a mechanical fault and that's where I'll leave it.
+1 for Speedy's support.
Will advise friend to part with at least $1000+ cost for recovery....if the data (mostly images) are that important to them, they'll pay.

Cheers :thumbs:

15-03-2012, 09:40 PM
Thats the key words- how important is the data - many people when they find out the cost all of a sudden its no so important after all.

I remember a several years back a customers drive totally toasted, fried circuit board and stuffed internals - I got a quote from a place in Auckland, and I thought :eek: gulp-- I told him the quote - $2000 approx -- His reply-- Is that all -- It had all his work data from over the last 5 years he said - no backups.