Recovery of data from your system hard disk depends on many factors like nature and extent of failure, type of hard disk and the operating system. Your first task is to identify the symptoms associated with the failure. Before opting for data recovery procedure you could try out some basic troubleshooting methods like changing the power supply cable or data cable. Check the data cable connection on the motherboard for loose connections and fix it. Now try to reboot the system. If the system still does not boot you need to go for further tests.
Disk Failure types
1. Master Boot Record (MBR) failure
Symptoms: – The system displays blank screen after being powered on. In some cases you may get messages related to missing operating system or error loading the OS.
Probable causes: – MBR is the first sector read by the system before loading the OS. It consists of the root file system that gets identified by BIOS (Basic Input Output Specifications) in your system. This section could be damaged due to virus, bad sectors, corrupt OS or physical damage.
Diagnosis and Repair: – Your initial task is to try and restore the corrupt boot sector OS and remove any possible virus. Insert a bootable CD into the drive and power on the system. By default your HDD will be made as the first booting device. You need to change it so you can boot from CD. Press the <DEL> key repeatedly. You will be taken to CMOS setup screen. Find the option for making your CD-ROM as bootable device, save the settings and reboot.
- The system gives you options for loading repairing utilities and OS reload. Choose the repair utility.
- Now your hard disk will be scanned completely starting from boot sector. The system will display list of errors after scanning. Select option to fix the problems. Once it is done, the system automatically reboots. Remove the CD from drive and wait. If your system reboots successfully and loads the OS, your task is complete. Use powerful Anti-Virus software to flush out the entire virus and take a backup of critical and essential data.
- In case the OS does not load after fixing the error and reboot, you need to replace it. You could do so without formatting the primary partition (in case of OS corruption). If this option does not work, you need to format the primary partition (Normally C:\ Drive).
2. Bad Sectors in the HDD
If this option does not work, you need to disconnect the Hard disk from the system and connect it as a secondary “slave”. For that you will need another working hard disk with a bootable OS (Same as your failed disk). Connect the power cable and primary data cable to the new HDD.
- Check the back portion of failed HDD where you can find (Not the lower part where you find the circuit board) four pins, with left most pin fixed with a Jumper (Black colored small plug). Just remove that plug and your HDD is now slave disk.
- The data cable connected to the new bootable disk will have another slot which needs to be connected to the failed disk. Connect the power cable to failed disk and power-on the system. Some systems can recognize master and slave disks automatically. Open the windows OS and check for the main drive letter allocated to failed disk. Download software for MBR recovery in the new disk, install it and run it.
- Choose the option for MBR Fix from the software menu. You need to select the main drive of failed disk and click OK. Wait for the repair to be complete. If the operation is completed, you get a SUCCESS message. Or you may get an error message and system could ask you to format the drive.
3. Physical Damage to the HDD Core
Now you are sure that the problem is more than just MBR logical failure or bad sectors. You need hardware tools for fixing the problem. The next step will help you in fixing the problem.
Hard disk data recovery equipment
You can find several data recovery equipment online that can fix many types of problems in the HDD. You can find many tools in that equipment for fixing different types of HDD like Seagate, western digital, Samsung, Toshiba, Hitachi and others.
- Connect the failed disk in a master-slave style as explained above. Connect the USB port of new bootable hard disk to the recovery equipment. Install the software for recover device and open the main menu.
- You could find many options for diagnosing the disk drive errors. Run the tool and you get a list of errors associated with your failed disk. Run the “fixing tool” to remove the hardware bugs.
- Once the errors are fixed you need to take a back up of data. The system will try to recover data even from critically damaged parts of your failed disk.
- The system will prompt you to enter a “Drive name” for saving the restored data. Mark a specific drive in the new hard disk and le the system run restoration process.
- Once the process is complete you may need to format the failed disk if you wish to try and reuse it.
Changes in File Names and extensions
Once you have recovered data from the failed disk, you may not expect the file names and extensions to remain in the same format as before. For example your file names may be renamed as a series of coded digits or alpha numeric combination. Now you need patience to search and find the file you need and associate it with the appropriate software application.
Some of the files may be recovered as they are. It is because they were located in continuous sectors in the failed disk. Time required for the recovery process depends on the intensity of damages. In some cases it may even consume more than 14 hours of continuous recovery operation.