Hard Drive Blues

No matter how long you’ve been using computers, every once in a while, a piece of software comes along that forces you to take a second look and appreciate its usefulness. I stumbled upon one such softie today. It proved so useful that I decided to post it in my blog and (hopefully) help spread the word.

It all started a couple of weeks back when my 5-year old hard disk decided to head south. One strange sound and several restarts later, all my monitor showed was the dreaded “Disk read error”. No windows. No linux. No nothing. Kaput.

I realized I had to buy a new hard disk. And buy I did.. within a week. When you know a 5 year old HDD can’t be fixed, why delay buying a new one? Getting the new HDD to work was a real pain in the a$$. But that’s another story.

After installing Windoze and all the essential softies (for the umpteenth time this month). I connected my old HDD in Slave mode and tried my luck. I was able to recover my 2nd partition (nearly 20Gb of videos, songs, etc..) without the help of any data recovery software. Not bad.. Alas, my C: was nowhere to be seen. It was apparently so badly damaged that I couldn’t even read what it contained.

The next thing to do was to see how many bad sectors it had (it had bad sectors, of course, that weird sound was probably the read head crashing on the platter.. sigh). For that, I needed the HDD manufacturer’s low-level analysis tool, Seagate DiscWizard, in other words which I had. The scanning process started .. and 5 mins later I hit reboot. Why? Too many bad sectors. So much for recovering C:. I needed a miracle. 🙂

A few days later, I stumbled upon a mag. lying around in my friend’s room. They had an article on HDD recovery and suggested trying a software named “HDD Regenerator” as the first step in the recovery process. It claimed to recover bad sectors.

Recover bad sectors? How’s that possible? You see, bad sectors occur due to physical damage to the drive, and recovering them through software isn’t possible. Of course, it’s possible to lock those sectors, but recover them? Whoa.. gotta try this Regenerator thingy.

So, without wasting any more time, I visited its website and downloaded the softie. According to the site, it uses some “magnetic reversal” technique to recover bad sectors.. impressive. I created an HDDR bootable CD. After the reboot, it turned out I had downloaded the demo version which could recover only 1 bad sector. There goes my CD. The next CD I created was the full version (ahem).

The scanning process started. It was kinda slow.. I calculated the estimated time to be around 5 hours. Hmmm.. guess I’ll have to wait. A couple of hours later, as expected, I ran out of patience and hit reboot. It had fixed all the 17 bad sectors in the 1st 10GB, which was my C:, so I guess it had fixed what I wanted to recover.

So I changed the BIOS settings to boot from my damaged hard disk, saved the settings, and hit reboot. I sat there.. my fingers crossed.. expecting a miracle to happen.. and god was I happy when I saw the Windows XP logo.. :).

The rest was all easy. I backed up my C: contents to my new HDD.., said goodbye to Windows, and hit reboot again, this time booting from my new HDD. Three cheers for HDDR!!

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