Hardware failure

Is the drive failure hardware or software?

When a disk fails, it is often difficult to determine if the problem is hardware or software.  This section will help guide one through this process. Also, it should be noted that the demo software has all the tools enabled to help assist with this decision.

Hardware setup

The first stage is to configure the hardware.  Often the best approach for a hard drive is to use an external USB drive caddy.  These are available for 3.5” IDE, 2.5” IDE or SATA. This covers almost all drives that are going to be found in a  normal PC. SCSI drives are now very rare.

When the USB drive is plugged in, most PCs will give an audible warning and after about 10 seconds with display new drive available. This an extremely encouraging message and without it, the chances of reading a drive are very limited. If this stage does fail, an advanced user could try and plug the drive into a SATA or IDE connector directly on the PC.  This will mean taking the PC case off.  from experience, this method very rarely helps.

If it is not possible to access the drive through the USB interface then it is likely the only solution will be a specialised hardware recovery company.

Sector reading

Once a drive has been configured it is necessary to test if sectors can be read. CnW software can be used to do this by following the following procedure.

  1. Connect the drive, and start CnW Recovery software.
  2. Skip the wizard - go to main menu
  3. Select the drive to be tested in the drop down menu.  By preference use the Phys description rather than the drive letter.
  4. Click on View
  5. Try entering different numbers of sectors to view over complete disk range
  6. If data is displayed OK, the drive probably works
  7. If some sectors are displayed as a page of ZZZZ then the drive has some failed sectors
  8. If all sectors are displayed as ZZZZ, then the drive has a hardware failure

For number 8 above, a specialist hardware recovery company will be required. For number 7 above, it may be possible to make a good recovery of the drive, and CnW software has many raw image tools to assist. Number 6 indicates a good drive, though there may be failed sectors, a few should not cause too many problems.

 

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