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Resolved Question

External hard drive failing

Dec 15, 2017 1:52AM PST

Hello all,

I'm kinda freaking out at the moment. I have a WD elements 1tb external hard drive and it was working fine until a couple of days ago. I was trying to get all of my photo's an video's off it to get back up and upload to cloud, So I start to transfer the files but it wasn't going at normal speed, so i cancelled restarted computer and all i got after I put in password was a flickering desktop... So restart again, good so far, when i open explorer to go to map everything turns black after a few seconds. I restart again without my WD connected and everything works fine. This is where i start to freak out. There is about 350 GB of very important data on it i can't lose. (My previous back up drive crashed a while ago and haven't had the time to make another one also because of the Nas we were going to buy) So I try connecting it to my laptop with succes and a lot of patience. Now trying to transfer single maps at a time it takes about 3 to 5 hours for around 250 mb. So i was looking for another solution and a friend came to help with a data recovery program which is now running but again very very slow (about 10% now from 261 mb and already busy for 40min).
I've also tried a repair off the drive and that failed due to snapshot error, did offline scan and repair but didn't help.
Is there anyone that can tell me something else to try, that can help me get the needed data off faster without losing it?
Any help would be greatly appreciated, Thank you

Discussion is locked

Iwne has chosen the best answer to their question. View answer
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Clarification Request
Dec 15, 2017 2:12AM PST

Try a different USB port, and maybe a different USB cable too. What did you use to "repair" the drive? Was it "chkdsk /r /f"?

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Dec 15, 2017 2:37AM PST

tried different usb ports and yes it was chkdsk

Best Answer

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A few thoughts, though hope over expectation.
Dec 16, 2017 5:28AM PST

I fear Kees_B may well be right and your chances of recovering all the data are slim.

If the data is valuable enough to you to consider using a data recovery company talk to them and ask their opinion before you do anything else in the way of repair programs. Be warned, they are not cheap.

Definitely try a new USB cable, they do sometimes get broken or bent and the retry rate increases.

Try the WD diagnostic tools, as mentioned by an earlier poster but hold off the freezer until there is no other option - you will only get one chance at it!

I'm surprised James didn't mention Linux Happy ! Depending on where the disk is failing, a Linux live CD may be able to recover some of the data. I used an old Knoppix (3.1) to recover data from a hard disk that had head crashed, destroying some of the allocation tables.

I've also used the technique that Earl2 describes - split the disk case open (along the edges, not the flat faces) and recover the actual disk drive. I put the one I was dealing with directly into a desktop and used the direct SATA cable to recover the data. Way faster than a USB cable and without any conversion necessary.

A few possibilities and I think any recovery will be a bonus. If you do get the data back, before you do anything else, make at least two backups of it! Good luck - I fear you'll need it.

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Dec 16, 2017 10:44AM PST
"I'm surprised James didn't mention Linux Happy ! "

No, not on this. I didn't know if it was one with the Security VCD or she installed WD Security software on it. I have an Passport that ONLY works in Windows and I've tried Linux, and with a Hack that failed to work, and then a VHD of win98se that got far enough to get a suggestion from the security software to use newer windows. So, the only way I know would be newer windows in virtual drive to first unlock it, then and only then Linux through bidirectional sharing would access it. It's already failing on windows access.

She might be able to install the Smartware program again and solve the problem. Other wise the suggestion to remove and access directly already suggested by you and another would MAYBE work, IF it's not also encrypted.

If I want to use a drive to backup data, I will in future just add another drive, put in a rare filesystem on it like Reiser or BTRFS, which currently no ransomware has shown ability to attack, and put my backups on that. Right now I backup on flashdrives being they are so cheap.
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Re: drive failing
Dec 15, 2017 2:40AM PST

I'm afraid you lost it. Running your own recovery certainly doesn't help the success rate of a professional data recovery company. If I were you, I would send the drive such a company and hope for the best.

Nice story, by the way. It shows that external drives are not the best medium to store things (use them for backup and transport only) and it shows that running without a backup is not a good idea. Two well known facts, of course.

And I fail to see the relationship between planning to buy a NAS in the future and having time to making a backup of very important data, especially since a backup can be done in the background, so hardly takes your time.

Was this an externally powered disk, or were you using USB power? If the last, did you run the laptop from a power adapter? Both are better than using a USB powered disk when the laptop runs on battery power.

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Good Idea
Dec 15, 2017 6:14PM PST

I know Seagate has a recovery service for their hard drives, I suspect WD does too, so check out their website to find it.

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drive failing
Dec 15, 2017 7:34PM PST

and let's hope the holidays get better for you.
Here are some steps i use when this happens.
1. Login at WD and grab their free diagnostic and repair tools,while the Elements Drive is unplugged. During this use any decent vac w/ a crevice tool on the drive.
2. Be certain the unique cable isn't damaged,borrow or buy one to be sure.
3. Check power line,same as above.(use as new wall outlet jic,too)
Then run the WD tools.
4. If drive is still troublesome,be sure no moisture is present,wrap in filmwrap
3-5x,place in freezer overnight,(8-12hrs),uwrap and try again, be ready to grab all data,because you may only have one shot at your pics,etc..
Good Luck

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I find the built in usb/sata interface failes more than the
Dec 15, 2017 10:25PM PST

My WD Elements external hard drive a month ago. I had a SATA to usb adapter so I forced the plastic box open that contained the hard drive and found a regular WD hard drive plugged into a small circuit board. It was obvious that the small board was the SATA to USB interface. I removed the hard drive from the box and disconnected it from the small pc board that comprised the SATA/USB interface.

I then attached the now bare sata hard drive to the SATA/USB adapter that I had on hand. It worked fine and it still is working fine. The WD hard drive didn't fail. The usp/sata interface board in the WD conainer failed.