Strange drive problem and Spinrite analysis

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New member
Oct 7, 2020
I have a 2TB Seagate 3.5" hard drive that failed. Windows system log was reporting errors on the drive. I ran Spinrite several different times at level 2 and it reported no bad sectors and completed in several hours. As an afterthought I ran Spinrite's performance test. It reported seek times of ~6 seconds! Also, in Windows, the system seemed to hang when trying to access files. I then started running a Seagate diagnostic, but it was moving very slowly so I aborted. After that the drive was no longer recognized by the bios or system.

At this point the drive does not respond at all. I suspect the controller card has failed. I am not that worried about this drive. However, the error condition is a concern. Since Spinrite was able to read the entire drive, it may be that some access modes were OK but others were not.

Is there a way to copy an entire drive's content in a fashion similar to Spinrite's process - for example reading each track successively, vs. going through the file system? That might be a good way to recover data off of a failing drive. What utilities would be best for this purpose? Offline would be preferred, but Windows or Linux would also be OK. The utility should be resilient to long response times and not lock up. I'd like to be prepared in case something like this happens again.
Macrium's Reflect has a "forensic copy" switch. That might be looked into - though the drive I'd assume would need to be accessible to Windows

The ISO download of CloneZilla could arise - much in line with PH's dd reference.

If you think the PC board is the issue - ebay is a source for boards.
Be aware that, if the controller is really failing, you're not getting the data off. You might be able to swap another controller from an IDENTICAL drive. If it's a SATA drive, you could try a new cable, or a different port. You may wish to put the drive in another PC if possible and run SpinRite on it. If you can get it attached to a Windows system via an external interface, you can run chkdisk from Windows Explorer, select drive, right click, properties, tools. UNCHECK automatically fix errors. This is assuming the drive responds at all. If chkdisk shows errors, I would run SpinRite level 4 first before allowing chkdisk to "fix" errors, as chkdisk will deallocate any files that are lost. Be wary of booting a 2nd Windows drive internally in a PC that already has windows. If the BIOS gets confused, it can try to boot the wrong Windows installation, and bad things happen.

Some of the Linux utilities mentioned are very USER HOSTILE. Get the parameters wrong on dd, for example, and you can erase your entire drive. I would recommend something more friendly that allows you to double check your setup before you start. Years ago, I researched options for data recovery from bad drives and found a few things. Frankly, I cannot remember which things. So, with the caveat that ALL I did here is google "how to copy data off a bad drive", the following article might be helpful. There may be many others as I just picked the 1st one. Use for what it's worth.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
If using Linux try Photorec, which you can at least run with a live distribution, and also with you needing to have available a spare drive, probably USB, with at least the volume of space in the original drive free. This will at least read the drive if possible, and sadly will not recover file names, but you can select types of file to recover, and let it chug along for a few days on the drive, and it will at least recover what is readable, even if the drive is not able to give you any sort of meaningful filesystem to use, but it will run through the drive block by block looking for headers for files, and seeing type of file, and try to follow through to end of file.

I did use it to recover data off a drive that all of a sudden developed a whole swathe of bad blocks, and where this also clobbered the filesystem itself, making it unreadable. Got most of what i needed off it, and it only grew in bad blocks by around 300 past maximum doing this. Should open it up one day and see what got ripped off the disk stack, it was till then a reliable Seagate 1T drive with no pending errors till it started.
Is there a way to copy an entire drive's content in a fashion similar to Spinrite's process

You should have done that first. Recommended tools for that being ddrescue or hddsuperclone. They are designed for this.
PCB replacement often does not work unless you transplant ROM too. Some providers for PCB donor boards do it for you. But this does not sound like controller issue.