Recovering failed hard disk

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abennettphotography
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Recovering failed hard disk

Postby abennettphotography » Wed 17 Jun 2020, 21:11

My backup external hard disk has failed and my Mac is not recognising that it's connected so I can't see or retrieve the files. I've looked up recovery specialists on the web but they charge £3/400 pounds. Anyone know of any local businesses that could recover it cheaper or have any other suggestions?

I'm using a Mac and the external disk is formatted for a Mac.
Mike Farley
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Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby Mike Farley » Wed 17 Jun 2020, 23:39

Hi Andy

As you are discovering, disk recovery is both specialist and expensive. It is unclear from your post whether the quoted cost is £300 - £400 or in the thousands. The latter is really for services which, in the case of a severe failure, dismantle the disk and conduct a forensic analysis analysis of the platters fron inside. The former sounds about right for a straightforward recovery. It then becomes a decision as to how much the lost data is worth to you, unfortunately. A few years ago another club member was in a similar position to you but was able to recover their files using one of the cheaper services.

Assuming that your hard drive is not making any strange noises (in which case turn it off immediately and consult a specialist), there might be a DIY option. Sometimes with external hard drives the disk itself is still functioning and it is the electronics elswehere which have failed. Inside your external hard drive, there will be a standard disk which can be removed and put into a new housing which will cost a few pounds. It is worth trying and should not jeopardise a subsequent recovery if the problem is more serious, although depending on the nature of the problem there is no guarantee of that. I have, in the past, salvaged data for a friend using a variation of this method.

The lesson of this story is that all disks fail sooner or later and it is never advisable to have just one copy of your data. Neither is it a good idea to have all the copies in one location, due to fire, theft, flood etc. Hard drives are cheap these days and there are various options to guard against disk failure. That includes a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) solution which involves constantly backing up to a series of external drives. I would also recommend use of a Cloud backup service for really critical data using a company which maintains multiple copies at more than one site.
Regards

Mike Farley
(Visit my website and blog - www.mikefarley.net)
abennettphotography
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Joined: Fri 05 Jul 2019, 18:47

Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby abennettphotography » Thu 18 Jun 2020, 11:10

Thanks, Mike. Cost is definitely in hundreds!

I've tested the disk on another Mac, including cables and it didn't work ie that computer wasn't recognising the disk either.

I do have a backup strategy so not all files have been lost. I agree that an offsite backup is essential but cloud storage, once you get past the initial free storage is prohibitively expensive once you need terabytes of data - there's a business opportunity for someone!

I did consider buying server space but that, again, was hugely expensive.

I don't suppose anyone has the details for a local specialist that I can try? I did try a shop on George St. but they wanted £150 approx for recovery plus I had to supply a new disk for them to transfer the data to.
Mike Farley
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Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby Mike Farley » Thu 18 Jun 2020, 12:48

abennettphotography wrote:I don't suppose anyone has the details for a local specialist that I can try? I did try a shop on George St. but they wanted £150 approx for recovery plus I had to supply a new disk for them to transfer the data to.

Sorry, I have always been able to fix any computer problems myself so have never had need to use anyone else, local or otherwise.

My guess is that the reason why a shop can offer a recovery service for £150 is that they are counting on the hard drive itself being OK and they are simply going to remove it from the existing enclosure and plug it into something else to copy the contents. You could try asking them and, if you decide to use their service, ask what happens if the problem is more serious and they cannot retrieve the data. Do they still expect to be paid? In any event, you are going to need a new disk. Most likely the existing case will have to be broken apart during the recovery process and are you really going to trust a drive ever again that has already failed once?

In your position, I would be Googling for YouTube videos that show how to remove a hard drive from its enclosure and retrieve the contents. At the very least, it will give an indication of the likely cause for hard drive failures. That is something else you can Google as well.
Regards

Mike Farley
(Visit my website and blog - www.mikefarley.net)
Ronald Barker
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Joined: Thu 13 Sep 2012, 08:50

Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby Ronald Barker » Fri 19 Jun 2020, 10:16

If it helps there is a place in Penge High St. that is a Mac repairer who might be able to help you. 02087787711. I have used him and would recommend him.


I have several external hard drives which I cannot write to despite there is plenty of room left, but I can read them. (help?)

Ron
Iggy
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Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby Iggy » Fri 19 Jun 2020, 20:14

Hi Andy,

Looking on the internet, I found suggestions below that might help with the problem. I must admit that I have not read them as it's for a Mac device.

https://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/mac/drive-not-showing-mac-3613422/

However, following your problems, I have backed up my 4-year-old 2TB external drive onto a new external drive.
Rather slow process as it took almost 24 hrs.
Should have done it earlier as sometimes the old drive would come up with the suggestion that it needed reformatting that I ignored several times this year.
This message usually came up when the hard drive got moved or knocked and I assumed that it was just a faulty or loose lead.
Fortunately, it survived this problem and I now have a backup too. So thanks for posting.

Have you tried a different lead to connect the hard drive to the Mac?

Hopefully you can solve your problem too.

Got to run as there is big football match starting in a few minutes (8.15pm) on Sky - Man U vs Spurs!
Thankfully some things are returning to normal in this dreadful pandemic!

All the best,
Iggy
Last edited by Iggy on Sat 20 Jun 2020, 12:15, edited 1 time in total.
Iggy
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Joined: Thu 09 Apr 2015, 09:48

Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby Iggy » Sat 20 Jun 2020, 12:11

Ron Said: I have several external hard drives which I cannot write to despite there is plenty of room left, but I can read them. (help?)


The web page below offers some solutions to your read only hard drive problem for a Mac.
Seems like a common problem.
Iggy

https://www.easeus.com/mac-file-recovery/external-hard-drive-read-only-on-mac.html
abennettphotography
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Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby abennettphotography » Mon 22 Jun 2020, 13:05

One step forward, two steps back. The saga continues...

So. Tried Mass Net Cafe in Addiscombe. They, again, seemed to pluck a figure out of the air and wanted £80 for recovery plus cost of new hard disk. Then took disk to specialist Laptop and Mobile Repair Centre aka South London Repair https://southlondonrepair.co.uk/ also in Addiscombe.

They, initially, said it was the power supply to the disk that had failed and that the disk was intact. They charged me £35 for a new enclosure plus power supply and USB cable. But. On returning home, the disk still wasn't being recognised by my Mac.

Another trip to SLR, and, apparently, the new casing and power was not powerful enough for the disk, so they gave me a new one. However, was now told the disk had been corrupted but would be alright to use if I reformatted it, as long as I recovered the data first (otherwise I would lose it). So now, I still need to recover the data and buy a hard disk to transfer the rescued data to.

I've found some free recovery software on the interweb. I tried the first link and it works. The second is supposed to be free but I'm not sure if it's just trial 'free'.

If you're lucky, I might post further updates just to bring you an end to this epic....

http://www.recovering-deleted-files.net ... a-recovery - FREE

https://recoverit.wondershare.com/data- ... -free.html - possibly free
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Peter Boughton
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Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby Peter Boughton » Mon 22 Jun 2020, 13:27

If you can read from the the disk, use PhotoRec to recover data.

It's free in both senses (zero cost and open source software). It also comes with TestDisk which can help in other situations.

I've not used either but PhotoRec is recommend every time I see this topic come up (including from people who say they do computer forensics work).
toms
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Joined: Thu 27 Sep 2012, 16:30

Re: Recovering failed hard disk

Postby toms » Thu 25 Jun 2020, 10:29

Hi All,

A big thanks for all of the suggestions especially Peter's.

In short my hard disc fell over the other day and was totally unrecoverable. Not sure if it was a mechanical problem or software but it had been playing up over the past week or so. Despite telling everyone to back their work up I had failed to do the same and as a result lost about 2 - 3 months work which included some important files, so Peter's suggestion came at a very opportune time.

AS Windows recovery tools failed to repair the hard disk I was obliged to buy a new hard disc but that didn't resolve the lost data issue.

As an experiment, I borrowed a newly formatted hard disc from a friend which got my PC running and re-attached my broken one as a slave. Windows then tried to repair that 2TB disc again and as a result I could see the Windows file structure (e.g. Users). What it wouldn't let me do was enter the user accounts.

I installed PhotoRec which purports to be free software and ran its recovery programme. The reading phase took 4-5 hours to complete and it was good to be able to see the whole file structure appear including sub-folders and individual Word, Excel, Access, PDFs and photo files listing. When the read phase ends you need to 'Recover' the files. That is when the software wants paying. I ended up paying £44 for a one month licence before it would recover the files. The recovery took another 4 hours to complete and I would suggest to anyone running this software to have the recovered files loaded onto a larger hard dis than the original as there is a lot of duplication.

So job done and all my work has now been recovered including everything that I had on the desktop screen. BUT beware, the software has an auto renew feature with will renew your licence when it expires unless you go into your account and cancel the renewal.

Thank you again and don't do what I did, BACKUP!

Tom

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