I am trying to salvage user data from a hard drive that was installed in a Dell laptop. I have plugged it in to a Dell 490 workstation running Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit using a USB connection kit - leads and power supply. First I used Chkdsk, it ran for over a week but failed after the PC rebooted due to a MS update. I tried again and Chkdsk completed checking the disk in a shorter time span. Several errors were found and repaired, 25 index issues and a bad cluster. However, I couldn't access the drive's contents. Event Viewer reported a bad block on the drive Event 7.

I have bought Spinrite and run that, it didn't find anything to repair, it completed in 25 hours. Unfortunately, I still can't access the data files. The drive is displayed as being two drives! One is called RECOVERY and has has two partitions: OEM and Windows files. The second "hard drive" is listed as Local drive and the system locks up trying to access it. Does anyone know why? Disk management shows the drives as a single drive with three partitions all listed as healthy but Computer shows the drive as two drives. Device Manager lists the drive but under Properties Volumes won't Populate - system locks up.

I replaced the laptop drive which is three years old, but unfortunately, the user a student, had failed to backup her files. The files are important so I am trying my best to recover them. I am sure that the files are still there but can't figure out how to display and copy them to safety.

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I experienced a similar problem some time ago (trying to get data off a crashed harddrive on a Dell laptop).

However, I didn't even try to fix it myself; I brought it in to a local computer repair store, they moved the hard drive in to a comparable Dell laptop, and were able to copy most files on to a USB drive. I don't know all the software packages they used in the process.

It might be best to go to a professional. All the tinkering you do trying to do it yourself might just make it harder to recover data when you do bring it in to a pro.

Since then, I have been very anal about backing things up--on a USB drive and in the cloud.

The arrangement of the partitions is okay. The 'Recovery' partition is for reinstalling Windows, restoring it back to Manufacturer defaults. Don't let anything happen to that partition, and don't use it to restore Windows until you are happy this problem is fixed and you have your files.

It's sometimes best practice to retrieve lost files before any attempts to repair the system, but that isn't an easy judgement call when a system with important files goes into meltdown. You just want and expect everything to return as quickly as it left.

At this stage it would be important not to try booting from that drive. You need to access it by either connecting it as an external drive to another computer, or by booting off a Live CD/DVD. You can use Ubuntu, (if you have any familiarity with Linux - it's not too hard) this is an operating system on a disc that will allow you to peruse the drive and copy any files to a Pendrive. Or, you can download and use the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) which has some helpful utilities that you should consider only for retrieving your files at this stage.

Download UBCD.


Trying to recover a Windows disc with Windows is like trying to fix a broken window with a hammer! This is what I do (and have never been thwarted in this):

  1. Boot a Linux Live CD/DVD
  2. Attach a USB or other drive and mount it under linux.
  3. Mount your Windows disc (also under Linux).
  4. Either copy the data / files you need (if you are going to re-image the system), or make a bit-image backup of the data using the Linux dd (disc dump) command.

FWIW, Windows (all versions) is notorious for farking the users when "stuff" goes wrong!

I know - it is too late for this, but maybe not! If you

  1. See #1 above.
  2. Run the fsck command on the NT partition that contains your data (probably /dev/sda1 or /dev/sda2) - that may restore the data to where you can read it.
  3. If #2 is successful, copy your data to a USB or other external drive.

Sorry, but data recovery is not an exact science, and I should know - I do this regularly for private clients. My day job is as senior systems engineer for a tier-one tech company. My side-line (and previous business) is as a software and data recovery consultant.

Yes, it may be too late to recover your data... :-( However, in the future DO NOT try to use Windows to recover Windows data!

Thanks guys :) I am still re-checking the partition, whoes files that I can't access with Spinrite. The Spinrite software is running from its own bootup disk.

I'll update this thread when its finished, at present Spinrite reports 85% complete and there are no Recovered, Defective or Unrecovered sectors marked.

How much data do you need to recover?
I know a program that can recover files from a harddrive that has been formatted 20 times.

Try Easeus Data recovery. You can recover 2 GB Data for free. Try it and does it work you can always buy it.

Try R-Studio it also nice!

Thanks for the additional suggestions jean22 and alexstone. I have now resolved the issue. I downloaded Minitools but it wouldn't work -locking up. It couldn't find a partition to repair. Next I decided to connect the drive to the SATA socket on the MB. That didn't even detect the drive, possible due to the SATA cable being part of a hot swop enclosure built in to the Dell 490. Event viewer found a bad block (Event 7) which seemed to block, pun unavoidable:), access to the drive by Windows.

Next I decided to try to connect directly to my Dell 9200 (running XP Pro) which has a twin eSATA port expansion card fitted. I then put the HD in my Newlink hard drive enclosure which can accept both 2.5 and 3.5 inch hard drives. The 9200 detected the drive and I was able to copy the user files to a hard drive on the 9200.

The situation is that a combination of chkdsk and Spinrite has restored access to the drive but it couldn't be accessed by Windows (or Linus Knoppix) until connected directly via SATA rather than USB. The other factor could be that XP Pro worked when Windows 7 failed. I didn't use the Dell 9200 at first as it would have been out of service for hours if not week or so. Ninety-five GB of data has been restored with a number of corrupt Word documents. I have run an AVG check for infections on the restored files- it was OK. I also ran a Malwarebytes scan, one item detected: PUP.Optional.FileScout.A

use windows data recovery

Nice tool is recommended -Power Data Recovery.

Try recovermyfiles it's free to try and you can buy if it works.
Use it all the time for moderate damaged drives or deleted file recovery.

thanks for the recovery information

r-studio is best available tool, but in order to successfully retreive data from hard disk, you need more than just a software, there are some basic steps you must follow.

  1. Never install/copy any data on the drive you want to recover.
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