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Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

T4x series specific matters only
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ginahoy
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Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#1 Post by ginahoy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:01 pm

My wife's T42 HDD bit the dust today. Not surprising. Although I've rebuilt her machine twice and later bought a replacement, this was the original drive from 2005!

Lucky me, I had a spare OEM drive on hand so I was able to restore her files and OS from a backup image in no time. The backup was several months old. Normally that wouldn't be much of a problem since she doesn't use the computer for work. However, over the holidays she spent a number of hours cleaning up her documents and download folders and super-organizing her firefox bookmarks, not to mention all the bookmarks she created since the backup. Now I'm on the hot seat for not having backed up her drive after encouraging her to make all that effort =:-o

Before I removed the defunct drive, I booted the T42 from a floppy and tried to access the C: drive via DOS commands. No cigar. The drive was making LOUD tapping noises during boot-up so the mechanics are obviously toast. But the platter may be relatively unscathed. I'm thinking it may be possible to purchase an identical working drive on eBay (HTS548080M9AT00) and move her platter to the good drive. I don't expect it would boot but it may still be possible to retrieve her bookmarks database and documents directory path. I would need to buy a USB dock, or a SATA adapter to access the drive.

This begs the question -- is replacing a platter is even possible?

I just tried to remove the drive cover to investigate. Once the six T6 screws are out, I can lift the cover about 15mm on the platter end, but something seems to be holding tight at the opposite end. I can get a screwdriver blade under the edges of the cover so it's definitely not the sealant. Does anyone know how this works? Thanks.

Brad
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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#2 Post by Brad » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:24 pm

Sorry to hear you are having trouble.

Depending on how much you want to recover the data is how far you want to go with moving platters.

Attempting to move platters unless you have an idea of what you are doing could leave the data that still could be on the platters useless.

If the data is that important I would leave that to the professionals. Google is your friend.

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ginahoy
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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#3 Post by ginahoy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:48 pm

I did some Googling and came across this:
You can expect data recovery prices from any reputable company to start off around $500. ... Some companies are cheaper than us and some are more expensive, but you can pretty much eliminate any company that says they can recover your data for $100, $200 or $300.
If this is true then there's no way I'm paying north of $500 for recovery. Also, my wife would rather steam at me for not doing a backup than spend hundreds of dollars. In fact, I just asked and she said HELL no! So I got nothing to lose by trying do swap patters. The question is whether it's possible, within reason. Presumably there's information on how to do this on the 'net but I thought I should start here since you guys are more likely to be familiar with the particular drive.

Brad
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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#4 Post by Brad » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:01 pm

Of course its your data, your money and your call.

Just offering my thoughts on a successful data recovery.

Brad
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ginahoy
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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#5 Post by ginahoy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:20 pm

I did find some sites that discuss this.. mostly discouraging, but I learned enough to make the attempt, and I found reports of success. I also discovered a 7th screw under the label, as I had suspected.

One thing I don't understand is where the physical addresses for all the files (track/cluster/sector) are stored. Fragments of any given file may be spread over many sectors. If the sector locations for a file are stored in non-volatile RAM on the drive, then the circuit board would also have to be swapped. That's problematic since it may contain calibration data for the heads it shipped with. I'm sure I can find that information elsewhere. Thank you for taking time to reply.

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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#6 Post by dr_st » Wed Mar 21, 2018 2:56 am

Forget about recovering anything with moving platters and components. You're wasting time and effort, and your chances of success, not having access to a professional data recovery environment are pretty much zero. If you try to touch the platters, you may as well dump the entire thing in the toilet immediately after.

However, one thing that may work (assuming you haven't already damaged the drive beyond repair by opening and messing with it), is the freezer trick. Since you have nothing to lose, and since you only need the drive to quickly copy a small amount of files from it, I would try:
https://unix.stackexchange.com/question ... ezer-trick

If it doesn't work, just bite the bullet, sit down and reorganize your wife's files for her. Or buy her something nice for the trouble.
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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#7 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:45 am

FYI: links to whatever file-parts are stored in the File Allocation Table, aka (for DOS & Windows) FAT, FAT32, NTFS and other names for other OSes.
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ginahoy
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Re: trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#8 Post by ginahoy » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:34 pm

Thanks for replies. Regarding file mapping, I always thought the FAT contained logical to physical address mapping and partition details, but not the association between files and logical addresses. In hindsight, I should have realized that was incorrect, given what FAT stands for ("FILE allocation table")! :roll:

I found a matching drive on eBay for $10 so I figured might as well give it a try. I'll try the freezer trick first.

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Re: Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#9 Post by madicetea » Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:49 am

dr_st wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 2:56 am
Forget about recovering anything with moving platters and components. You're wasting time and effort, and your chances of success, not having access to a professional data recovery environment are pretty much zero. If you try to touch the platters, you may as well dump the entire thing in the toilet immediately after.

However, one thing that may work (assuming you haven't already damaged the drive beyond repair by opening and messing with it), is the freezer trick. Since you have nothing to lose, and since you only need the drive to quickly copy a small amount of files from it, I would try:
https://unix.stackexchange.com/question ... ezer-trick

If it doesn't work, just bite the bullet, sit down and reorganize your wife's files for her. Or buy her something nice for the trouble.
I agree. It's common advice on anywhere to not touch the platters, but sometimes replacing the controller will also do the trick.

If you are buying an identical replacement, open up the controller (the IC silicon chip outside the platter) and see if swapping those out will help.

If not, PLEASE PLEASE consider paying at least 100 dollars so that a reputable clean room company* can do the platter transform - one speck of dust (worse, one human hair) can really do some irreversible damage to hard drive platters, so that's why data recovery companies exist to do what they are paid for!

Good luck with the data recovery.

*Not to be commercial about it, but I've always trusted the DriveSavers company, because the San Jose Fry's Electronics on Brokaw Ave. recommended them to me years ago and I got a 10% discount on the service. Seems they still offer this discount by mentioning "Fry's Electronics" (https://www.frys.com/ads/page55?site=te ... tarecovery // https://www.frys.com/ads/page199)
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Re: Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#10 Post by jevette_hayes » Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:05 am

Sorry to hear about your old HDD. Try to connect it with your desktop computer using data cable, see if it is still alive.

If computer can detect it, then simply download 'stellarinfo' a free data recovery software. Depending on the size of the HDD, it might take couple of hours to retrieve the data. It's a free version, give a try.

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Re: Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#11 Post by turomini » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:52 pm

stellarinfo is a great tool. I've used it before, and actually helped someone with it also. Very great tool.
It has its limits though. If the hard drive isn't working from a hardware problem, stellarinfo can't do anything. Stellarinfo basically just ignores all directory paths and searches the platters on its own.
It works because when you delete something, the information isn't actually removed, only the data path is. Even if you did remove the information, there is still a chance it exists because unless the new data perfectly covers the old data on the platter, the information is still there. This is why tools exists that rewrite hard drive multiple times to make sure it gets the best coverage and nothing exists.
Things work differently in the world of solid state drives, but I haven't kept up with my tech knowledge in a long time and this information was from when SSD were still too expensive to be used so commonly.

Also, don't install stellarinfo or any other tools on the hard drive that you need to recover from. This work is always done operating from another hard drive, and only using the hard drive in question as a slave drive to avoid any possible over writing of the data you need to access.

If the hard drive doesn't really contain anything new and important, then go ahead with destructive tests. You won't get that information anyway unless you pay to have it done professionally or get lucky. Please post results if you do go ahead with this. This is all stuff you do at your own risk and just know that once you go with any of this, you can make the problem worse and even possibly destroy any chance of even a professional service being able to recover the data. Which yes, they do open the drives and correct what is wrong, replace parts, etc. Part of what you are paying for it the skill and the clean room. These companies wouldn't exist if everyone made frequent back ups. I am guilty of this, I have 0 backups right now, even as my hard drive is getting some pre failure/old age readings from the S.M.A.R.T. detection. (its a problem for in a month, I am aware of the consequences if I don't act quickly right now, but this is a good excuses to get a nice, large SSD for my old T420s).

Now, you said a ticking noise. so I am guessing the head is stuck somewhere, but it might be some other mechanical failure. Honestly, I would have went for giving it a gently but firm wack to help unstick the head or free other moving parts and quickly get ever bit of information off of it and never use that drive again unless you are fully aware that anything on it can be lost at any time.
Its also possible that it might just need a little more electrical power to move, but that can be tricky to give a hard drive unless you have some specific setup.
It may be too late if you tried to open it but couldn't get it completely open. Something could have shifted inside or binding up and not go back on the same when you close it. Only thing left to do now is probably open it and hope you get lucky.

I just noticed that the original post happened a few weeks ago, so maybe this isn't relevant anymore, but I will still post it just to have the knowledge out there.

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Re: Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#12 Post by ginahoy » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:45 pm

So far I purchased an identical 'sacrificial' drive (cost $10), which I have verified works, and then and swapped circuit boards. I have an outboard IDE-USB caddy on my desktop that makes this easy. The drive is detected but it generates an 'read' error message. Same results with StellarInfo. So as a last resort, I will swap platters once I get a Trox T9 with magnetic bit (I need this to remove the platter screw), which should be here by the weekend.

I realize the odds are against recovery in this way but I have nothing to lose. It's either that or toss it in the trash. Spending hundreds of dollars for professional recovery isn't an option considering what's at stake here. As I mentioned previously, I already restored the drive onto a T42 HDD I previously had on hand, but the backup was several months old. Actually, I'm very anal about backing up my desktop, which I rely on for my work and just about everything related to our life. But for the T42, a few months between backups wouldn't normally be an issue. It's just that my wife spent a lot of time during the holidays organizing her bookmarks and docs folder, something she's never done before. My mistake was not making a backup immediately after that, especially knowing her T42 was still operating with the original HDD, circa 2005! One thing that may improve my odds is that her bookmarks file and documents folder tree are backed up daily (albeit on the same HDD), so I have two chances to grab these files if I can get the platter to read on the sacrificial drive.

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Re: Trying to recover data from dead T42 HDD

#13 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:34 am

Don't blame just yourself!
Your wife could have made backups herself, PROVIDED hubby told her about those... :twisted:

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