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The Often Limited Options for Repairing (or Recovering Data) from a Clicking Hard Drive

written by: R.L. Flowers•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 9/20/2010

Does your hard drive click when you power up your computer or external drive? If so, you have the famed "click of death". This article will cover clicking hard drive repair options and possible data recovery.

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    The Click of Death: How bad is it?

    Hard Drive 

    I recently ran into a situation where a computer would turn on and start to boot, but Windows would crash with a "Blue Screen of Death" every single time. After running some diagnostics, I found that the hard drive was about to breathe its last breath. My customer had some vital data on this drive, and did not have current backups. When a hard drive is this close to its demise, options are limited. Data retrieval may not be possible at all. In the aforementioned case, I was able to retrieve the data. We were fortunate.

    Other cases I've worked on were brought to me long after the clicking had started. Data retrieval in these cases was impossible to do without taking it to a data recovery service.

    In this article we'll discuss how data retrieval may be possible, and what you can do if the hard drive is completely dead. Let's take a closer look at clicking hard drive repair.

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    Reasons for the "Click of Death"

    When you hear a hard drive click, it is because the drive failed to read the data it was trying to retrieve. The hard drive automatically tries to re-read the information. First, though, it resets the hard drive heads by moving them all the way to the 'parked' position and then back to the area it was trying to read. Why does it have to retry?

    The reasons are varied but simple. The problems could stem from manufacturing defects (such as the IBM "DeathStar" drives of years gone by) or because the hard drive was abused in some way, i.e., laptop falling off a car when driving away - I've seen it happen.

    These problems, one way or another, keep the hard drive from reading its data, leading to constant resets that we now know as the "Click Of Death." Lets look at options for recovering your information, if possible. Clicking hard drive repair may be impossible but you can at least recover your data before the drive dies.

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    Having problems with a clicking hard drive? Check out all the options for clicking hard drive repair and recovery in this comprehensive guide.
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    Act Fast- There may yet be hope!

    If your hard drive starts to get very, very slow, or you hear even one or two clicks every so often, turn off your computer right away! You need to use the time the drive has left to get the data off. You don't have long. If you have your data backed up and there is no need to retrieve the information on the hard drive, then the solution is simple: replace it. If you must retrieve data, here are some things you can try.

    If you are unsure of your ability to follow any of the following steps, stop now and take your computer to a professional.

    1) Turn your computer on its side and turn it back on. Although unorthodox, in cases of physical shock (specifically, the laptop/car incident mentioned above) it is possible that it will help. It might not do anything, but it's worth a quick try.

    trk-12 2) This step is much more involved. Go to the Trinity Rescue Kit home page and download the .ISO image of the Trinity Rescue Kit. Burn the .ISO image to a CDR. You'll need to have the computer networked with a cable to your router. You'll need a second Windows PC also networked either with a wire or wirelessly. Boot up the failed computer with the TRK disk you just made. When you see the boot menu, just press Enter. When the next menu comes up, select "Run a Windows File Server", and press enter. Then select "Run an unsecured fileserver in guest mode". Write down the IP that it shows you, such as "".

    Now go to the other computer. Open up "My Computer" and in the address bar at the top type in \\ (or whatever IP you wrote down) and press Enter. Navigate to your hard drive and the folders you need data from. Copy them to your computer right away. When you're done, you can safely turn off the failed computer.

    3) Get Data Back is great software option that may be able to recover your files. It is free to try as a demo, but you can only retrieve the data if you buy it for $69 or $79. If you have Windows XP or newer you'll need the NTFS version ($79). Older machines may need the FAT32 version ($69). You'll have to connect the hard drive to a host computer through either USB, IDE, or SATA.

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    Last but Not Least

    If neither of the preceding ideas work, your only option will be to either accept the loss of your data and move on, or send the hard drive to a data recovery facility. They can do things that aren't possible in a casual environment. In their sterile "clean rooms" they can disassemble the drive and place the internal disks into a working hard drive. Sometimes the failure is not on the disks themselves. Even then, they can often get data back. It can be very costly.

    So there you have some ideas for recovering a clicking hard drive. May your recovery efforts go well!

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