View articles

Title Handling Hard disk failures
Handling Hard disk failures

On average, Hard-disks are supposed to have a span of 5 years. As per studies by data centers on the internet, Hitachi is supposed to be the most reliable.

The first thing to do in such cases, is to back up your data. Every time now that you access the disk, it is going to become worse and worse.

Running programs like chkdisk that scan the entire disk, is not recommended. Also nothing should be written to this disk.

The safest option is get a new HDD( You might also consider an SSD - Solid state drive ), and image copy your old HDD to the new one.

Then it should be possible to run the various recovery tools on the new HDD, and try to recover the file-system, if corrupted, and the data.

If you don't want to do that, try booting the computer using a Linux LiveCd. Puppy Linux, for example, has a pretty small footprint( around 135MB).

It may be that the HDD is still accessible under Linux. If so, you can take a backup of the important files.

There are also tools like ddrescue to copy the disk contents, and testdisk to try and repair partitions, file-system etc.


And this one has details on extracting file from MFT records:

Hxd is an amazing fast & light Hex editor for Windows, lays bare the HDD before you !

wxHexEditor seems to be an alternative on Linux.

The Disk Editor from @Active is another amazing tool, even better than Hxd, as it uses templates to recognize formats like Boot record, MFT etc, making viewing and editing a breeze !

NTFSWalker not able to show records if the file-system is corrupt. 

FindNTFS is physical parameter based( cylinder,sector etc), and does not have an end-limit, so we run it for long time and may find nothing.

Need to check ntfswalk. It can extract files. No good. some license issue.

Windows NTFS uses a Master File Table( MFT), and there is a mirror( not complete) of it too. If the MFT gets corrupted, the folder structure will not be accessible.

Free tools like testdisk are useful, but in my case, do not seem to help with a corrupted MFT.

There is also a tool called DMDE which can scan sector by sector and also perform recovery. DMDE seems to work, but takes a lot of time. Maybe it scans for file contents too.

What is needed is to scan only MFT fragments, and reconstruct files from them. surely, that should not take much time.

the dd utility can copy raw disk data, so we could use it to explore MFT fragments. for e.g. this one copies the 1st 1024 bytes to a file : dd if=/dev/sda of=./rawdata bs=2b count=1

There are windows boot cds like Hiren's bootcd which can be used to attempt a recovery. 

Also see for a tutorial on recovery, this is a windows exe, so a bootcd would be required first.

To access raw disk in  java see :

Categories Computers


SrNo File Name Remarks Preview File Size Created By Created On