Is My Hard Drive Dead?

Question

I am getting the cyclic redundancy check (CRC) with indication of bad sectors. Now, the PC will not boot and I'm getting a disk I/O error Status: 00001000. Has my disk failed? Is there a way to recover the data? Note: I have regularly defraged the drive. Thanks, Keith in Tempe.

Answer

This question was answered on November 26, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

One thing is for sure, every hard drive will eventually go bad Hard drives are usually only really considered reliable through their first two to three years or so of everyday use This can vary by a lot.

Based on your information, I have to assume your hard drive is headed south However, the data may not be lost In cases like this, I assume I am going to need a new drive, regardless The latest hard drives are a bargain, and if you use your PC extensively, even if you revive your current drive, a second hard drive is a welcome asset in any PC.

If there is irreplaceable data on that old drive, there are services (like Data Doctor) which can retrieve data from most "dead" hard drives, but expect to pay dearly for this service However, in certain instances, such service might be a necessity If the data is that valuable, I would not even power up the drive any longer Any additional running of a bad drive can result in further irretrievable loss I would purchase the service and hope for the best.

If you decide to take the chance of retrieving your own data, first, unplug all those CD and DVD drives within your machine See if the PC will boot Problems with CD and DVD drives can cause just about anything to happen

If that is not the problem, put one of those drives (the one you're most confident in) on a drive cable all by itself (reset any necessary jumper settings) then go to work on the hard drive problem.

I would remove the old hard drive from the computer, plug in a new one, then format the new drive and install Windows with only the new drive installed

Once that's done, configure the old drive as a "slave" unit (Check the manufacturer's web site for jumper settings), configure the new drive as "master" (don't forget to plug in all data and power cables), then power up and see if your old drive is accessable at all

Chances are, you will be able to retrieve your data Many unbootable drives aren't quite dead -- yet Go through your entire directory structure and immediately copy worthwhile data over to a folder on the new hard drive It might even be beneficial simply to create a folder on your new drive, highlight everything on your old drive, move everything over (this will take a few minutes) to one folder on your new drive before the questionable drive gets any worse Chances are, your new drive will have so much available space, that everything on the old drive can be accomodated You may have to install some of your software to view files which may or may not be useful Filter out useful data once everything has been moved

Remember that disk errors will stop the copying process cold, so be certain everything gets copied over from the old drive.

If you cannot access the old drive, check the master/slave configuration of the two drives once again, establish some confidence in the drive cables, then try once more If you cannot access your old hard drive at all, you will have to go to your most current set of data backup floppies or CR-RW's and take the loss (You DO make backups of your data, don't you?)

If you cannot access the drive, don't quite give up yet Run checkdisk on your old drive to see if that will fix any problems If checkdisk reports a high number of bad sectors which cannot be fixed (perhaps five or more), don't rely on your old hard drive any longer However, it still may be usable for temporary storage against the unlikely event your shiny new, freshly installed hard drive exhibits any near-term problems Reformat your old drive before you see if there are any last gasps of life in it, but don't expect it to last.

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Author

Posted by Robert of Mesa Community College on November 26, 2002