My home computer lost its second drive the other day. Over the past few weeks, the drive had been disappearing intermittently. Occasionally, I could get to get, but more and more upon clicking on the drive, an error message appeared saying the drive was “inaccessible. The parameter is incorrect.” When, the drive stopped appearing as a listed drive under My Computer, I knew my procrastination had run out of rope.
I attached and reattached the cables to the drive, but to no avail. I took the drive out and put it in an enclosure. Nothing.

Next, I put the drive back in the computer and brought up the device manager. I scanned for changes in the Device Manager. The computer slowed down, but, after a while, the Western Digital Caviar 80GB showed up.

Now, when I clicked on the drive, the computer slowed greatly and then the drive appeared as unformatted, although with its partitions intact. (A look at Disk Management confirmed this.)

Essentially, anything I did to access the drive, either through the Windows GUI or the command line, brought the computer to such a slowdown that all the programs were “Not Responding.”

I tried  a program called Test Disk that claims it can restore access to the drive. With Test Disk, I could see some of the data, but I could not copy it.

I then tried the tools on Ultimate Boot CD. And I tried booting with Damn Small Linux in order to access the drive. Neither provided any access.

Then, I got a copy of SpinRite.  SpinRite is a data recovery and drive maintenance program written by Steve Gibson. It essentially goes to the bit level and reads and writes data to the drive in order to take care of errors at the physical level. It has a DOS interface and often times you can watch some of your data going by as the program scans your disk.

I’d like to say SpinRite worked wonders, but it didn’t. On my 80GB dirve, SpinRite ran for about a week. (Yes, a week.) When the program takes this long, or predicts it will take this long, typically, according to experienced users, you are out of luck.

When SpinRite was done, I rebooted my machine and the drive did not show up. Again, I scanned for changes in the Device Manager. When the drive showed up, it behaved similarly to before. I was frustrated and ready to throw in the towel.

But, when I tried to access the drive in the command line, I was able to see the data and copy it over to a fresh drive, using the xcopy command. SpinRite worked thankfully, but I would only recommend it for experienced users.

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