Need help with dying drive/restoring data

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Mon Sep 20 04:20:29 PDT 2004

On Sun, Sep 19, 2004 at 10:58:51PM +0100, Jonathon McKitrick wrote:

> When I boot up, the drive makes clanking sounds I've never heard before, and
> never finishes the load.  I'm going to make a rescue disk, but does anyone
> have a strategy for how I could handle the delicate job of getting my
> updated data off the drive without making matters worse?  So far, I figure I
> will boot the rescue disk and try to mount the filesystems.

'Clanking noises' -- that's either the bearings on the spindle worn
loose or the mechanism that moves the heads out of alignment.  In
either case, I'd say your drive is not so much dying, as dead.  About
the only thing you can do is boot up from alternate media and see if
anything can be read from the old drive -- don't get too hopeful
though.  dd(1)-ing the partitions from the dead drive into files on
some other machine and then turning each of those into a file backed
md(4) device which you then fsck(1) into some sort of order might get
you further than most other strategies, as it allows you to scan
sequentially across the drive

Failing that, it should be possible for a data recovery company to
read much of the disk contents using what is a essentially an electron
microsope with a few modifications.  About the only thing that can't
deal with is a head crash so bad it scrapes away large chunks of disk
surface -- even so, it would be able to read most of the rest of the
drive.  Only problem is such services are quite expensive...



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                       26 The Paddocks
                                                      Savill Way
PGP:         Marlow
Tel: +44 1628 476614                                  Bucks., SL7 1TH UK
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