recovering data from a dead hard disk

Paul Gear paul at
Mon Mar 2 03:31:20 GMT 2009

Slawek Drabot wrote:
> I have PATA HDD that is showing no signs of life: does not appear in any /dev device listing whether plugged in through USB adapter or directly through the IDE interface.
> Any way to get access to stored data?
Do you hear/feel the drive spin up when you plug it in through the USB
adapter?  If the drive does spin up, do you see it in the output of
lsscsi (or /proc/scsi/scsi if you haven't got the lsscsi package
installed)?  If so, then you may be able to get some data back with a
command called photorec.  It's available as a Ubuntu package, and does a
good job of recovering whatever data it can (not just photos) from bad
media.  However, its success depends entirely upon the media itself.

If you can't see the drive as a /dev/sdX or /dev/hdX device, it's
unlikely you'll get anything back from it without getting someone to
transplant the electronics and motor from a working drive of identical
model.  I've never done this, but i understand it's possible (although
quite expensive).

Of course, restoring from your backup is a much cheaper and faster
method.  ;-)


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