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Thread: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

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    Unhappy Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    My parents system has suddenly died this week, it will get through the POST ok but when it tries to load XP it gives this error:

    windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
    <Windows root>\system32\hal.dll
    Please re-install a copy of the above file.


    I could probably wipe the drive and reinstall XP to get the system running properly, but first I need to extract a number of files which my parents hadn't backed up, I've been looking about on the net and I've tried the following unsuccessfully:

    1. During Windows Setup, the current OS write is listed as an 'unknown partition' rather than XP, so it doesnt offer a repair install option.
    2. Under the recovery console, chkdsk /R fails at 25% and the bootcfg /rebuild results in error. I tried to copy the hal.dll file from the XP disc to the system, but i get an access denied message, and I couldnt set the -r -h flags on the file either. Fixboot ran ok but it didnt seem to fix anything as the same problem occurred on reboot.
    3. I tried loading the drive twice in two other systems, both recognise it as a slave drive during POST, but after the loading windows image the screen goes blank and doesnt load to desktop, both systems boot ok once the drive has been removed.
    4. I loaded up Knoppix from a live cd on the system, and there's an icon on the desktop called 'Hard Disk [hda]' which i assume is the hard drive, but when i click on the icon it says it could not determine the file system type and doesnt mount the drive. It should be NTFS but there doesnt seem to be any option to manually set the type.

    I dont really know what the problem is, I thought maybe a corrupt boot record, though it also doesnt seem to be recognised as NTFS by anything. The drive also seems to have developed a clicking noise since I started working on it, so ultimately it might be going bad.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I thought maybe there might be some way to split the existing partition into two, so the files are on one and i can reinstall XP on the other, but I'm not sure if that is that even possible?

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    If the drive is making a clicking noise it is almost certainly developing or has developed a fault - particularly as it dowsn't appear to be recognised by any machines you have installed it in.

    With the info you have provided, it is probably a fault on the interface electronics - mechanically it might be sound.

    If the files are vital, they can almost certainly be recovered by a specialist company, but it won't be cheap.

    You could try the "place in a bag in the freezer overnight" trick, but as the fault sounds to be electronic rather than mechanical, I wouldn't hold out much hope, except that if it is a faulty component, cooling it might (just might) persuade it to work long enough to get the files off the disk.

    Long shot - worth a try.
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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    I would recommend you to buy a new harddrive and try to clone the old harddrive over, that will allow you to perform all sorts of recovery without risking the original drive dying.

    The more "repair" you try to do on the old drive, the less likely you will retrieve the data back. Those repairs are for soft-errors and your situation is definitely hard-errors.

    Since you said your drive refuse to boot in other machines, You could try a IDE->USB enclosure and connect the drive after windows boots. Windows does not like booting with a drive that it doesn't regonize and connect it after boot up and it might allow the recovery softwares to access it.
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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    You could use the Ubuntu live CD ("Feisty") which has NTFS support, so you could *possibly* copy the essential files from hard drive to floppy/cd/usb.

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    That's funny that is. Same thing happened to me yesterday. Left machine on , went out to the garden to see the wife , came back to find the machine frozen . Re-booted and it came up with the same file corrupted hal.dll. Tried the same as you -first a xp repair , then a full xp reload --no use . Suggest that you try the 'freezer' trick .

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    I had a similar problem IIRC and used TestDisk - http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk to retrieve data.

    I installed the hard drive in another computer and copied files across.

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    Hi guys thanks for the feedback, I'll give this freezer trick and also ubuntu a go and see if things work out. Failing that the usb enclosure sounds like a good idea as well. Hopefully something will solve it o_O

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    Righty, I've stuck it in the freezer for a couple of hours, but it still gave the same hal.dll problem afterwards on bootup.
    I next loaded up Ubuntu which could recognise and access the drive properly but it lists the Documents and settings, Program files and Windows directories as unknown file types and size. I cant open them or copy to the burning software. However other folders like Temp are recognised and accessable.
    Rather vexing to put it midly, would anyone have any other suggestions?

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    In your situation I would forget about trying to get the thing to boot. Stop trying to write to the old disk, because in the process you are trashing the data on it even more.

    You need to get a working PC and hook the half-dead drive up as a slave, and then try getting some data off it. Do not even think about making any changes to the disk contents until you have recovered what you can. There is very good software available that can recover phenomenal amounts of data providing the drive hardware is still functional - however it is often expensive. If you or one of your friends/collagues have some way of getting access to e.g EasyRecovery Pro or similar, it might do the trick. But given the price it might be cheaper to send the drive off to some professionals and have them do it. TestDisk sounds like a free alternative, so I'd certainly give that a shot.

    Even if there is a physical problem with the disk, a lot of data can still be recovered, but for that sort of thing there is almost no limit to how expensive it can get. Have a good think about what data is on there, how much it is worth to you, and where you will draw the line. There will always be 'one more thing' that can be tried to get another few files back, with ever escalating price tags.

    Other alternatives - things like Ultimate Boot CD have various utilites on them that might be able to help - but trying to fix the bad disk is very much the second-best alternative.

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    Re: Need to retrieve data from crashed HD

    Alrighty then, might have to just tighten the belt and get some Expert Help it looks like.

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