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If the drive is just sitting there "clicking, clicking, clicking,” good luck! Please remember the only 100 percent way to keep your data safe is BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP. Use the tools provided in your operating system to scandisk regularly or obtain a disk utility program like Norton Utilities to take the best car of your hard drive possible. However, hard drives are sometimes like light bulbs—when you turn them on, turning off the power may mark the last time they will ever work!


From: Karl Andrzejewski


·         Boot with a Windows 98 startup disk.

·         Get the CD-ROM support.

·         Try reinstalling the OS. If this fails, boot to DOS, bring along my ZIP dive, fire it up in DOS Guest mode.

·         Copy any critical files to the ZIP, format the hard drive.

·         Reinstall the OS backup system and boot files and let the user know they should keep their sausage fingers on the TV remote and off of the computer.


From: Brad Marin


First find the disc parameters and enter them into the bios. iI the disc is accessible at that point, I would copy the needed files to another drive. If the FAT is damaged I would run tiramisu and hope for the best.


From: Larry L. McNeese


I have in the past found that if you can find another hard drive of the same make and model, you can remove the circuit board from the dead hard drive and replace it with the one from the good hard drive. Many times the board is the problem, and it has saved the files and me several times. Of course, when you get the files off you need, scrape the bad drive and replace it with a new hard drive. I am taking in consideration that the tech doing this knows how to properly set up a drive—v ery important.


From: Jeff Wilson


After going through the usual hoops, checking the BIOS setting, and booting with a boot disk.


With the current pricing on hard drives, I don't fight with drives any more, I pull out my copy of Lost and Found by Power Quest and let it detect the drive.

·         If it does, I will then install a drive equal to or greater than the old drive as master and set the old drive as slave.

·         I reboot and rerun (LF) and let it backup the drive.

·         If the drive is three years or less old, then the manufacturer will cover the warranty and we are all happy. This all assumes that the new master was seen by the BIOS. This works 95 percent of the time for me—game over, other than some diagnostics.

·         If not, then I would reboot with the new drive by itself and see if it is detected.

·         If not, I would install an IDE card and disable the onboard IDE, reboot and run (LF). This will work 99.9 percent of the time and allows me to back up all of the data on the old drive.


With the data backed up to the new drive and the old drive still as slave, it should now be able to boot the system. If it boots, I would check to see if the slave is visible. If it is, then double check to see if all the important data was backed up.


For grins, I would now try to boot the old drive from the IDE card. If it boots, then a possible motherboard problem and would take some more time.


From: Bruce D. Meyer



·         Move the defunct hard drive to secondary slave, or master or whatever is unused—but don't hook the IDE cable up yet.

·         (Precaution) Install a new hard drive as primary master set it to 'ACTIVE.' With fdisk, format, install Windows, power down, hook IDE cable up to the defunct HD, reboot, set BIOS to show the drive, and then copy all the files (data files only please!) over from the defunct HD to the new one. Power down, remove HD, change bios to reflect no HD there, and you’re done.

·         Alternatives are using ARCO RAID IDE controllers to back the data up from one drive (Primary/defunct) to Mirror/NEW)) and then remove Arco raid (Duplidisk) and install new Hard drive as primary master.

·         Also, you can use EZ Drive, GHOST, or one of several other software methods to copy or mirror the hard drive. If you have bad sectors on the original, you'll quite likely have bad data on the new drive where the bad sectors were on the old.

·         If the old drive won't spin up, or can't be recognized in BIOS whatsoever, power down and up (Power completely off each time) relentlessly until is it detected (BIOS set to AUTO for that drive). You will possibly get lucky once in 30 boots.

·         Once up, do your work, because it may be the last time it comes on. Also, try letting the computer cool down for several hours, remove the drive to get it out of a warm case, and let it cool down. Then try it cold.

·         (Thermal deficiency may cause it to fail when hot.) In the same vein, if it is cool, then let it just sit there with power on it for thirty minutes, then just reboot for about 30 times (Don't power down.) This may work too.

Of course, let's do first things last.

·         Replace your IDE cable, remove the other IDE cable from the motherboard. I have seen CD-ROMs fail that rendered sound cards, network cards, and OS’s brain-dead.

·         Simply removing the CD ROM from the IDE cable was all it took to prove this point, and fix the computer. (Hey! HD is fineI—it's the CD that is tying up the IDE bus and IRQ/DMA controller!) No data loss.

I probably missed some of the better tricks, but generally, that should solve what is solvable.


From: Joel Yalung


·         Check to see if the primary hard drive ribbon is correctly attached or connected to the Motherboard and Hard drive.

·         Make sure it's not loose.

·         Or check the ribbon itself—make sure it still good.

·         This usually solves the "invalid drive specification" and "BIOS Auto HD detection not finding the HD."


From: Troy Schlueter


Do the normal ritual of making sure power and IDE cables are tight, and changing the IDE cable.

Is the drive spinning? If not, then:

·         Remove the drive and connect it back up outside the case.

·         Power up the box and give the drive a quick twist to see if it will spin up.

·         Try the drive on a known good working machine as a slave, if you can get it up in the cmos.

·         If you still have no response, find a functioning drive that is identical (same make/model) and swap the circuit boards.

This usually does the trick, unless the original drive has a physical error. (i.e. bad motor or platters)


Last resort—send out to a data recovery business.


From: stan


Depends on why it's dead. On older drives, it was quite common for the heads to stick to the platter. It would not have the torque to start, so it couldn't work.

·         Best method in that case was to put a long extension on the power cable, leave the data line off ,and with the drive between your palms, quickly rotate the drive and at the same time power on. Try both clockwise and counter clockwise. One should work if it's a "stiction" issue.

·         If the drive spins and has a problem with the logic board, it's sometimes possible to swap the electronics without opening up the disk cavity, but that's a last resort.



From: Michael Wagoner


Tough question and in some aspects it depends on what operating system the machine was running.

Obvious checks are:

·         Make sure all the cables are properly and firmly attached.

·         You might want to swap out the ribbon cable and/or change it to the secondary controller connection.

·         Pull the power plug off it and plug in a different plug. Can you hear the hard drive spin up?

·         If you (were smart enough and) brought along a different hard drive, does the machine recognize THAT hard drive? Does it spin it up? Does it start it?

Assuming all of the above is intact and you've narrowed the problem down to that ONE particular hard drive as having the problem (and that ONE hard drive DOES spin up), I'll tackle it from the perspective that the machine was running either Win95 or Win98 (the steps for both are similar).

·         I would bring a startup disk from a Win98 machine to start with (make sure you have the correct startup disk type FAT 16 for machines fdisked that way FAT 32 for machines fdisked that way If the 'owner doesn't know which it was, chances are high it was FAT 16, especially on older machines).

·         The reason for this is simple—it allows you to start up the machine with CD-ROM support (this is assuming that the machine has a CD-ROM). At bootup, I would access the CMOS settings and set the machine to try to recognize the hard drive automatically—once again, the next steps would depend on whether the CMOS was able to identify the hard drive or not.

·         Assuming it did recognize the hard drive, I would boot the machine (without the boot disk) and check what error messages I got (if any).

·         If it did not recognize the hard drive, I would try to manually input the hard drive settings (some CMOS's allow this, others make it a bit harder to do).

·         Now try to boot without the boot disk.


Assuming that one of the above methods at least got the hard drive recognized, but at boot up there is some other error regarding the hard drive, I'd stick in the boot disk and boot with it.

Next question is at this point can/does the machine "see" the hard drive. I've had both cases, some where it did, some where it didn't. If it sees the hard drive, can I see my information? If yes, can I access the information? Usually one of those two questions is a no.


If you can access the hard drive (the system sees the hard drive, sees your directories) but not access the information (when you try to enter into a directory or call up a file you get an error message) chances are you have a messed up FAT table.

·         You can try to fdisk /mbr from your boot disk, it will re-write the FAT table.

·         Now pull out the boot up disk and try to reboot again. Any luck? If so you may be in business, if not you're hosed.


I've tried, with mixed success, using Powerquest's Lost and Found program to try to retrieve data from a hard drive. It's hit and miss enough that it will depend on budget and how "important" the information is before I try to recover it. We just had a hard drive crash that we sent out to have the information retrieved, at $125 an hour it was expensive to recover.


Those are my solutions, for what they are worth.


From: richarr


This has happened here several times.

·         I install the new hard drive, make it a bootable partition, and install the operating system.

·         Then place the old drive on the secondary disk position and copy the contents to the new drive.

·         Usually into a folder called OLD DRIVE. This provides a directory tree map for where to place the files.

·         Then after reinstalling all the software, original files can be placed back into the proper place on the new drive.

Very rarely does this procedure not work for me.


From: KC Freels


·         Try putting the drive in another machine. It may come up there.

·         Put it in as a second drive and boot from a working drive.

·         Try and access it then. Failing that, try using a program like Ghost and image the drive onto another one. If this works, you're really lucky.

·         If the motor is stuck, or the drive isn't spinning right, open the top of the drive (it's dead anyway) and spin the platters using the spindle.

·         Sometimes this will get the drive spinning and usable one last time.

·         It will never work again though, so this is a last resort.


From: David Chambers


This is a common situation. And, it has turned out to be a simple resolution (most of the time). I'm the Network Manager at the San Diego Blood Bank. The non-profit status of our organization makes purchasing new, up-to-date equipment quite a challenge. Consequently, the largest percentage of my 220 desktops are legacy 486/66 boxes. Their relative age brings about hard-drive failures on a monthly basis.


I've been able to extract the data from these drives using a boot disk, and one of two backup methods.


1. Use a portable backup tape drive that runs from the parallel port (Trakker).


2. Use DOS Client and a boot floppy to get the box on the LAN then map a drive with NET USE and XCOPY the important files to the LAN.


Of course, the boot floppy method works for about 75 percent of the failures. If the boot floppy fails, I try using FDISK/mbr to rebuild the Master Boot Record. This is successful 5-10 percent of the time. Since the user mentioned in the quiz had messed around with the BIOS, it's possible the settings are wrong and even more probable that the jumper on the drive is misconfigured because, although the user "didn't do anything," that new CD-ROM they installed is on the same controller as the hard drive. The disappointing part of making a hard drive spin back to life exists in the 10-15 percent that are actual physical failures that will require depot level repair to extract any data. A very expensive process.


From: Ron Masters


Hard Drive Dies.

Oh, you've got to love these kinds of situations, don't you?


Well, this may sound strange, but it's worked for me before. (That is, if booting off a floppy still won't gain you access...and there are strange sounds coming from the drive...)


1. Shut down the power and remove the case cover to gain access to the drive. Remove the drive from the case, but leave it connected to power and ribbon cable. (If the ribbon connector cable isn't long enough, attach one that is.)


2. Now, hold the drive in your hands and kick on the power (use an assistant if you'd like). As soon as the power comes on, twist the hard drive quick and fast in your hands. (Kind of like steering a car hard right). This sudden "torqueing" is sometimes enough to "break" a drive free, allowing it to spin...usually for one last time. (Have a Zip or second drive already ready to gain access to the files.)


3. A slight variation on this (once again with long power and ribbon cables) is to set the drive down on a flat surface (non-conductive please!) so that it can be "spun" while flat.


Why does this work? Well, in this situation, my guess is that the lubrication of the drive has failed, and the torque overcomes the initial spin-up of the drive.


From: co


·         I would open the box and ensure that all of the connections are still are where they are supposed to be, including the controller card, if it has one.

·         I would ask the client what operating system they were using, so that I cold make a startup from another box.

·         I would try to copy the sys files to the hard drive by booting to the floppy.

·         If that doesn't work, I would boot to one of the hard disk utilities available for the brand of hard drive in the client’s box (maxblast, ontrack, etc., also norton disk doctor), and get to a dos prompt, to copy the needed files.

·         As a last resort, I would consult the Internet.


From: Jim Davison


The symptoms you describe would lead me to believe that the drive lost power or died. Maybe the Molex power connector worked loose.


I would use the following steps even considering that you state the user had "tried" to manually enter the settings in setup and also tried auto. The user may not know what they are doing.


1. Try IDE Auto Detect to see if the bios can even see the drive.

If yes, then I would use that setting and everything should be OK.

If yes and the drive still does not boot, I would use fdisk/mbr in case the Master boot record was destroyed.

If no then I would go to step 2.


2. Open the box and check all power and data cables. I have seen Molex type power connectors lose a connection intermittently I have also seen one case where the data cable came loose when the computer was moved.

If cables were the problem, then you should be okay now. If you still have a problem go to step 3.


3. Remove the drive and plug it into another computer and see if the other computer can detect the drive.

If yes then the problem is a cable, motherboard, etc. on the computer and needs to be replaced. If the thing still is not working, then it is most likely a defective drive and you will need to decide how badly you need the data on the drive. If you need the data then I would send the drive to a data recovery lab that can extract the data from a dead drive and save the data to a tape, CD, HD etc. This can be expensive but may be worth it.


From: ppotts


Boot the PC from a DOS Boot Disk. Make sure that the boot disk has the following files on it:





1. Boot the computer and see if you can see the drive. If you can, then COMMAND.COM may be damaged or missing or the boot files may be corrupt. Run SYS C: to make the hard drive again bootable.


2. If you still can't see the hard drive then, run the following command, FDISK /MBR. The FDISK utility updates the master boot record only if one does not exist. Even repartitioning a hard drive with FDISK does not necessarily rewrite this information. However, this switch allows you to write the master boot record to the hard drive without damaging the existing partition table information. You should not use this command if you are using special partition software (not partitioned with FDISK), if you have a dual-boot disk (such as NT and Windows 95/98) or if you have more than 4 partitions on your drive.


From:Gary Moon


You have to troubleshoot from the hardware up:

1.       Swap the IDE cable to eliminate that as a cause. Also, check any jumper settings, and remove any other drives from that cable.

2.       Set the drive type back to Auto. If drive ID isn't taking place, then you can't communicate with the drive anyway.

3.       If you can't hear the platters spin up or the heads doing their "positioning dance,” and it's a few years old, it might have a "sticktion" problem caused by the lubricant on the platters sticking to the heads. With the PC off, give the hard drive a couple of sharp taps on the side with the handle of a screwdriver! Then power it up again.

4.       If all the hardware seems to be functional, you'll have to see if you can get at the data.

5.       Many Compaq PCs have an 8-MB system partition that launches the system diagnostics when you press F10 (or another combination) on boot up. See if you can access this partition. If so, your hard drive is not completely lost.

6.       Depending on the manufacturer and model, the drive might require a special boot-time driver to access the full capacity of the drive. Two examples are Ontrack Disk Manager, or Maxtor's EZ-Drive. This driver usually resides in the root directory of the system drive or the MBR, and if it is lost, the system won't be able to correctly see the drive partitions. On some later 486s and early Pentiums, even though they can read the drive information into the BIOS, they still cannot properly translate the CHS information. This can lead you to believe that the computer can use the full capacity of the drive, while in fact, it cannot. Try re-installing a translation driver using original software, if the drive came with it. This should not require any formatting of the drive or loss of information.

7.       Run FDISK and view the partition information. If FDISK cannot access the drive, then the hardware is still messed up, and you need to back up a couple of steps until that is corrected.

8.       Try switching the drive into a new machine you KNOW will support its capacity natively.

9.       If none of these steps works, and you are certain the drives hardware is functional, then get a data recovery software such as Tiramisu, or as a last resort, try fdisk/mbr.


From: John Bragdon


I have tried only a couple of steps on my own:


1. If you are a "computer person" you would have brought a bootable floppy with you. Boot off the floppy and hopefully you can read the c: drive then.

2. Opening up the box and slapping the hard drive can revive the hard drive if the servomotor is "frozen."

3. I have turned the data cable around and powered on, and after about two seconds, turned the box off and then put the cable on correctly. Powered on the box and the system found the hard drive.

4. I have used the utility Speed Stor in the passed to tell the CMOS about the hard drive if the CMOS could not be read from the system. Of course you have to know the head and sector size.


From: Lou Schweichler


This procedure assumes you do not hear any "grinding noises" or other evidence of a physical damage, i.e. worn-out bearings, dragging read heads, etc. If you do, then the HDD is "toast" and you might as well offer your customer your condolences as the HDD has just headed to the big computer in the sky and it's cheaper these days to replace the HDD then to repair it.


First, Check the CMOS settings and verify they agree with those preprinted on the HDrive's Label, If not preprinted on the label, either use a program like EZ-Drive to obtain the correct values or remove the hard drive and connect it to a known newer motherboard and use that board’s CMOS setup utility to detect the proper values. Try rebooting to the C:\ prompt on the new board. If successful, reinstall the hard drive to the original board. Then ensure the CMOS settings on the original board agree. Adjust as necessary. Try rebooting. If the your lucky your finished. If not try the second step.


Second, if the first step didn't solve the problem, then the FAT Table may be corrupted. Use a utility like EZ-Drive, which usually can be downloaded from any of the Major HDrive OEM's Web site, to switch to a backup version of the FAT (file allocation table). Usually there is a backup of the FAT on the HDD, but switching to it requires the use of a HDD utility like EZ-Drive. Follow the instructions for the Advance Options to switch FATs, then reboot. If reboot to the C:\ prompt is successful, AND you can access your data files, Run SCANDISK from the DOS prompt to verify the integrity of the FAT. Then do a cursory search of the HDD for any documents you may have recently created. If you can get a good DIR listing of them, you're done—smoke' em if you got em!. If not, then try third step.


Third, this step will result in the total and absolute loss of all data on the hard drive and should only be used as a last resort. You can use the DOS commands, "FDISK, FORMAT C: /S", to reformat the HDD and reinstall the operating system. Better yet, using a HDD utility like EZ-Drive accomplishes this in about one tenth the time. Make sure you have a bootable floppy disk that includes any special device drivers and programs to access your peripheral equipment (like the CD-ROM) so you can complete the OS installation. If your computer system came with a restoration disk, you could reinstall the COMPLETE OPERATING SYSTEM AND ALL SOFTWARE. Alternatively, once the HDD has been reformatted and the HDD set up, you should now be able to reinstall the complete operating system, (WIN31, WIN95, WIN98, MAC, LINUX etc.) and all your application software from the original distribution CDs or Disks.


From: Brett Edmonson


·         First I would make sure all cables are connected and make sure it is getting power.

·         Then I would check the setting in the BIOS, and make sure AUTO doesn’t work. If not, I would confirm the settings of the hard drive to the settings in the BIOS.

·         Then I would see if FDISK sees the hard drive from a Win98 boot disk (which has FDISK on it).

·         Then I would proceed to use the utility Hard Drive Mechanic, if it does not see it, IT IS DEAD!


From: Chris Karo


·         First I would check the HD and write down all the numbers. Name of manufacturer, Model #, serial#, Hds, Sectors, landing zone, etc

·         Second, I would enter into setup mode and check the settings for HD1 and or HD2, if any. Check advances settings to see if LBA or any other settings have been changed.

·         If I have another PC that’s the same, I would compare all CMOS settings.

·         If not, go online to the manufacturer site support and find the model. Print out all settings for the CMOS and any jumpers that may be on the drive.

·         Check the power supply plug for the 5.5 (+ or -) voltage. Set the CMOS and jumpers accordingly. Boot the machine.

·         If the drive still does not come up, boot to a MS-DOS 6.2 Boot disk. C: dir.

·         If I can see the files and directories, I can then either slave a driveor put another master on a 2nd controller, and then copy data to the drive or to a formatted a:\disk.


From:Bryan J. Lykins


This solution comes from the "been there, done that—multiple times.”


·         First, get physical access to being able to see the disk drive and then use some type of diagnostic utility (off a boot floppy) to see if the drive is even recognized.

·         If there are no lights on the controller and the diagnostics do not identify a valid drive, then you can usually recover quite easily.

·         Get yourself another identical disk (with no important data on it) and swap the controllers. I have used this method to recover 3 different disks.

·         If the controller lights come on and the diagnostic program recognizes your drive, but the disk is still not accessible, then most likely it is "frozen" internally. There have been several drives that have had this problem in the past. (Specifically, there were some IBM 2- and 4-GB drives, Maxtor 760 -MB, and Seagate 2 GB).

·         Anyway, since we are not going to keep this troublesome drive, remove it from the machine and gently tap the side with a screwdriver.

·         Put it back in and see if the motor will start the drive spinning. If it does—get the data backed up immediately and then either get rid of the disk or use it as a non-critical storage area.

·         Once a drive has this problem, the solution has been known to work multiple times and the problem usually re-occurs after a reboot/shutdown sequence.


From: TJR2


Invalid drive specification.


If drive is IDE:


1) Use the CMOS IDE auto detection. Try to use both LBA mode and normal mode. Reboot and see what (if any) failure comes up.

2) Boot from a floppy (this is critical that the user knows what version of OS he/she is running: 95, 95b, 98, 98b, etc.). Use FDISK after this to see if the drive is present. If so, SYS the drive and reboot (crossing eyes, fingers, and toes).

3) Tear into the computer and make sure the cabling is correct. For good measure, reseat the HDD cable (both ends) and power cable. Turn system on briefly to ensure the HDD is spinning up.

4) Try using the secondary controller on the motherboard (being sure to make the CMOS change as well).

5) Try a different IDE cable.

6) If none of the above steps work, it must be 4th down and time to "punt." If the data is irreplaceable and critical, call Onsite for a quote on data recovery.


If drive is SCSI:


1) Use the controller utilities to see if the card settings are correct.


Unfortunately I am not experienced in SCSI drives and would not be able to apply anything more than what is listed.


From: Gary Gillaspie


Depending on the operating system, I would use a boot disk with FDISK on it. Boot the PC, and run FDISK /MBR, which would fix the boot sector so you would then be able to look at the hard drive after a reboot. A 2nd option is to use the hard drive manufacturer’s disk utilities from a floppy that MAY BE able to repair without losing data.





(1) Boot computer from a bootable disk, load CD-ROM drivers. Then run ndd's (Norton Disk Doctor) revive option, this will revive the mbr (master boot record) and all the data.

(2) Make the faulty drive slave drive on a system running Win95/98. Try to backup data as much as possible, then shutdown the system and then make the faulty drive as primary drive and boot from a floppy drive and run fdisk.

(3) If it doesn’t work, then boot the system with faulty drive as primary drive with a dos/windows bootable disk, then run hard disk manager (e.g. Seagate's DM).


From: Jack Levin


The first thing I do is see if the drive is spinning. Many times the drive just gets stuck and a small tap will get the drive spinning again. If that is the case and the drive does come back after some mechanical agitation, I "Ghost" the drive to a new replacement as fast as I can.


If the drive is spinning but still not accessible, I have had luck making it a slave drive with a known working master. Sometimes that helps. Once I get access, I copy as fast as I can because I know every minute is borrowed time.


When the FAT has become corrupt, I have tried third party recovery tools with little success. If the FAT backup is no good, I am at a loss (short of sending it out to a data recovery service).


From: Howard Adkins


Check the parameters in the CMOS and verify they are correct. If they are, I would attempt to boot off of a floppy to see if I could get to the hard drive, sometimes the MBR is bad but you can still boot to a floppy an copy the info to disk


From: Ted Senn


Iff (If and only if) the drive doesn't spin up, the bearings are possibly dry. In this case, I take the drive out and give it a hard rotation and quick stop parallel with the platters, reinstall, and get out the chicken bones. This will sometimes allow the drive to spin up long enough to get the data off. At the same time try to sell the owner on the idea of a backup device.


From: Raymond V.Hall


1. Review documentation regarding the installation—drive type, cylinder, sectors, etc.–and identify the drive by physical inspection. Reseat all cables and power connectors. Dust out the interior of the PC.


2. Secure current info and drivers from manufacturers www site.


3. Use floppy disk to start the PC and determine if drive maintenance can be performed. Is the data available? Is the drive not booting or not operating? Scan for viruses.


4. While virus scanning and perhaps using scan disk, review the documentation, instructions, and Readme files about the drive.


5. Especially with an older PC, check the battery and replace if necessary.


6. Use setup to confirm accurate drive settings.


7. Apply any patches, switches, jumpers etc. noted in the current documentation.


8. Thank the user for showing patience.


From: David P. Pedersen


·         First, you would give the offending computer user a short sermon about benefits of always backing up that important data.

·         Second step would be to remove the offending "dead" drive from the computer.

·         Third step would be to put it out of its misery with your shotgun if you have one and if not simply give it a good whack with your sledgehammer.

·         Fourth step: go down to the local computer store and have them install a new one for you with backup this time! I am sure glad people call me about computer problems because, as you can see, I am one good "Repair Man.” Thanks.


From: John C. Britt Jr.


Remove the ailing drive from the box, install it in another machine as a secondary drive, and then back up the necessary files.


From: Kampstra Richard Contractor AMC CSS/SAS


If there is any way you can read the disk at all, check out Tiramisu for shareware data recovery tools that are the best. They have a version for every type of operating system. WinNT, FAT16, FAT32, etc. Check http://www.simtel.net/simtel.net/msdos/diskutil.html for the software.


I have used their tools in the past to recover data from disks. Some disks are just impossible because the electronics on the drive have failed. In this case, the only hope would be to swap the circuit card on the drive with a known good one.


From: Brad Gorecki


To remedy this situation, I would verify that the drive will still spin. If that is the case, I would use a product called Recover 98. As long as the drive is spinning, I can get the data off. After verifying BIOS settings and making sure the PC will at least detect the drive, slave the new drive off the bad one. Run this software package and transfer the data to the drive. This software works on deleted files as well as formatted drives. I believe this would be the easiest solution.


From: Bob Matott


One additional thought for the rare problem—swap the circuit board from a known working identical drive onto the bad one. Sometimes the electronics do take a "hit.”


From: Craig Connelly


1. Check the old CMOS on board battery. Replace if necessary.

2. Get the drive specs and go to the manufacturer’s site and get the info on the drive.

3. Try to use a boot disk from a well-known Utility software package.

4. Use a Data Recovery program if the drive will spin up. Get the data off the drive.

5. Fdisk/MBR the drive and see if it will then accept a new OS install.

6. Don't waste too much time on the issue. Data is only as good as your last backup.

Figure out how the cost benefit of trying to bring the drive back to life and just getting a new drive.

"Save early, Save often.”


From: Pahl Jeff TSgt AFMIA/MISO


For FAT file systems.

1st boot from floppy and try to access C:.

If that doesn't work, run Fdisk /MBR. Sometimes replacing the master boot record will fix a non-booting drive.


From:Matthew Harvey


Had this happen last year. Tried running the drive as a slave in another machine (could be the controller, you know) but that didn't do the trick. So we sent it away to a recovery shop. They charge $100 to look at it, send you a list of all the files they could find and recover, and then they want $1,500 to send you those files on a CD-R. We balked at the charge and said, "No thanks, just send us back our hard drive." They did. Of course, in order to read the disk and list the files for us, they had to make a repair to the drive. When it was returned to us I was able to slave it in another machine and copy all of its contents—just finished before their jury-rigged repair failed on us. Full data recovery for $100—not a bad deal, huh?


From: Spike


There are many different ways to approach this. It should depend on the O/S involved.

·         In a Win95 situation, the first thing is to check the BIOS configuration and make sure that the user didn't inadvertently turn off the HDD.

·         If this checks out okay, open the PC and check to make sure the cable is secure...or replace it to rule this out.

·         If still no go, boot from a floppy (DOS or Win95 Startup Disk will do) and sys the drive using the sys c:\ command.

·         Often this will work with Win95.

·         If the drive boots (even just to a prompt) run a virus scan. Many viruses hide themselves in the boot record and will actually copy the boot record to a different part of the drive...thus, not allowing the O/S to find it. If no viruses are found...run a scandisk (from the floppy or from Safe Mode) and make sure there isn't too much corruption.

·         Corruption or not...it's time to back up your important files and format the drive. This may be all that's needed to restore a drive to a functional state.

·         If after the format there are still problems...trash the drive. Don't take any chances with a flaky hard drive.

·         If the suspect drive is a Winnt drive...there are not a whole lot of options. Follow the steps above to the point of rebooting the system.

·         In the case of NT (if it is not BIOS related), you will generally get a ntoskrnl error and the system will halt. Otherwise...the BSOD is always a possibility.

·         To lessen the chances of losing all of your data, boot with a clean diskette (Dos or Win95) and run a setup from the NT floppies.

·         Choose the option to repair the existing install, selecting all of the options of what to repair.

·         If this works, the worst thing that will happen is you will have to reinstall your applications to re-register them in the system registry (which will be replaced).

·         In the event that the drive will not boot at all, take the drive to another machine and slave it to an existing hard drive (preferably with NT as you won't see the NTFS partitions otherwise).

·         Boot the second machine and see if the drive is visible from explorer...if it is...lucky you!

·         Back it up pronto.

·         If you cannot see the drive because it has an NTFS partition and the machine you're using is Win95...there is a utility available called NTFSDos.

·         Get this...it's an invaluable resource for NT techs. It allows you to boot from a DOS floppy and see the NTFS partitions from the command prompt. You can then copy or backup necessary files prior to a re-format.

·         If the drive is still dead in the water after all of this...chances are it's going to stay that way but I haven't come across too many drives I couldn't re-animate. :-)


From: Jamey Copeland


Make sure the drive's data ribbon cable is connected securely at both the drive and the controller. If the cable is damaged, try a new one. Enter the CMOS setup and make sure that all the parameters entered for the drive are correct.

Boot from a floppy disk and try accessing the hard drive. If that is possible, then it is probably because boot files are missing or corrupt. If that is the case, use a third party software fix kit.


Try Sysing the c drive if it is visible from dos.


Check the power connector.


Replace the hard drive...hehe.

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