Help me and my hard drive

So on Sunday nite, everything was hunky dory on my built-in-beginning-of-2007 PC.

Monday morning, on my way out to work, I go to my home office to check email, and see that it’s on the AMIBIOS prompt/screen, with the error message along the lines of “SMART has detected a bad drive failure, backup and replace soon.”

Not having time to check in the morning, I went through a workday and decided to check into it when I got home. It gets even wackier; when I turned it on last nite, it didn’t even make it that far; it said that no boot device was detected. When I reboot and hit the ol’DEL to see my BIOS settings, I see that my system sees the DVD-R, but not the C drive.

That, and I’m hearing a weird clicking noise.

My questions are:

  1. How dead is my hard drive?
  2. Is it possible to still recover data off of it, or is it truly dead?
  3. Can I measure degree of deathness?
  4. Any particular recommendations for a new, not-too-expensive HD? I see newegg has a samung 750gb/7200rpm/3.0GB SATA for about $110.
  5. Any hope of possibly being able to ghost an image from old HD (it’s something with 500GB, don’t know offhand) to the newer HD? Or am I outta luck?


  1. Very dead. If it’s not being recognized by the BIOS, we’re talking about drive logic failure, in addition to the obvious mechanical problem denoted by the clicking noise.

  2. Yes, but only if you can swap out the circuit board for one from an identical make/model/firmware drive, and even then, the mechanics might be shot enough that you can’t do diddly. A drive failure like this is a cakewalk for a data recovery place, but you’re looking at $1500+ just for starters. I had two clients with dead drives in the last month, both were looking at $2250+ apiece, and the recoveries are still in process, so I can’t even say how things are looking yet.

  3. Not really. SMART is supposed to do that, but drives tend to be pretty binary. They either work, work flakily, or don’t work at all, and the ‘work flakily’ window is REALLY tiny. For every 10 to 12 dead drives I’ve run across, hail mary moves like the Freezer Trick and whatnot only brought back 1 of them long enough to get any data off of it.

  4. I prefer WD and Seagate exclusively.

  5. See #2.

Enjoy your new clean install! Imagine how smoothly everything will run…

Also, if you can budget it, get the 300 GB WD Velociraptor. Yeah, it’s fucking expensive, but it’s also fucking awesome. Just sayin’.

wd 640gb is the fastest of non premium drives. Cheap and super quiet at 75 bucks too.

Yikes, well, okay, so is the only prevention to basically have at least two drives, and regularly ghost image one onto the other?
I’ve never actually used a RAID config before, should I try that? I’m just a “hey, make a single partition out of a whole drive, and add other drives/partitions” kinda guy.

Acronis Trueimage set to a daily differential backup has worked awesome for my 750GB drive backing up to my 1TB drive.

RAID is a waste, as far as I’m concerned.

Agreed. You need frequent backups, not RAID.

As for the hard disk, I had a similar problem recently: bad sectors, drive started clicking, then went dead. In my case, though, after several hours and several reboots and prodding and unplugging and replugging the drive, it actually came back to life so I could run SpinRite and isolate the bad sectors. Has worked fine since then, although I obviously keep a replacement drive at hand…

So you might want to try a few more times, maybe it will come back to life long enough for you to make a backup.

Well, RAID mirroring (RAID-1) is not a bad idea for some people. That’s pretty foolproof; if one drive fails, just take it out and replace it, then reboot.

Except what happens when your data is corrupted in-place, and then the corruption is mirrored?

Proper RAID (1,5) is not a substitute for a good differential backup.

RAID isn’t about data security, RAID is about uptime. I had to learn this the hard way.

Yeah, RAID 1/5 only protects against one thing: HD failure. It doesn’t protect against viruses, data corruption, power surge frying your whole PC, accidental deletions, etc. Now, since HD failure is my most common cause of data loss, I think RAID is worth it for at least some data. But it’s no substitute for a good backup strategy. [Ideally with offsite storage for your most valuable data. Can you say “house fire?”]

Besides, don’t you need two identical drives for mirroring? That would mean you need to toss out both drives and get two new ones if one fails and you can’t get an identical replacement. But maybe RAID is smarter than that these days.

RAID doesn’t require identical make/models, it doesn’t even need drives of the same size. It’ll just create a visible drive which is as large as the smaller of the two hard drives.

Im somewhat disregarding some popular advice by going for this Samsung drive that happens to be on sale. If only to increase the amount of Samsung-branded stuff in my home. Wheee!

Thanks for the help, peeps. I’ve actually acquired a WD 150GB Raptor (not the FUCKAWESOME VelociRaptor, alas), so that will be my primary OS/app/important games drive, and the 750 samsung I just ordered will be storage/media stuff. Prob gonna do the Acronis Trueimage backup routine where the Raptor gets backed up to the Sammy.

I’m going to see if my local IT guy can even look into the dead drive for data recovery. If so, awesome. If not, I might write off the data as a loss (d’oh!) and RMA it for a replacement drive, as it’s still within warranty and I guess I get a free replacement if I mail it in. Then I’d have another random extra drive, for even more redundancy, I guess.

If I can’t recover any of the data, it’s not the end of the world, but the word docs and photos would have been nice to grab. ;_;

all this data loss has me wanting to get a drobo or