Author Topic: Recover Data From Broken Computer  (Read 6165 times)

Frugal Consumerist

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Recover Data From Broken Computer
« on: January 20, 2015, 07:20:33 AM »
Short background: An old computer of mine from ~10 years ago (Compaq Presario 1600S) is broken. When it tries to boot it runs into this error message: "Cannot find or load required file Krnl386.exe, file not found." It is Windows 98 and the research I have done, it sounds like it's an error with the Windows software.

Given that I don't care about salvaging the computer, just the files on it, I took it to a local computer repair shop and they told me it would cost $99 to get the data off, if they could do it at all.

I did some more research about retrieving files from a dead computer and it seems I may be able to mount the hard drive to my current computer. So I bought this USB to SATA connector (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008ASF5MC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_?ie=UTF8&psc=1). I am considering taking apart the old laptop and trying this. Has anyone done this before with any success? Is this even the right thing to be doing? I'd prefer to not pay the $99, though it seems like this may be a decent price from what I've read.

Sparafusile

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2015, 07:37:51 AM »
Unfortunately, you bought the wrong adapter. Windows 98-era computers didn't have Serial ATA (SATA) connectors so this will certainly not work with the hard drive in your laptop. This is probably a better option for you:

http://www.amazon.com/USB-SATA-5-25-Cable-Adapter/dp/B000YJBL78/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1421764431&sr=1-4&keywords=usb+to+ide+laptop

although I can't be 100% sure on that. You'll also need some tiny tiny screw drivers. Make sure you flip over your broken laptop and look at the screws you need. It's possible they aren't philips heads so you may need to buy some torx drivers. You will need really really small ones (my Radio Shack doesn't even carry small enough torx drivers).

The good news is, once you have all the stuff you need, the rest is pretty simple. You just connect everything up and copy the files over. It's certainly possible and a good project to do if you like taking things apart.

Frugal Consumerist

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2015, 08:16:17 AM »
Thanks for the response! I'll take a look at that adapter you mentioned and ensure that it is the correct one and order it.

I did check the screws, and they are torx T8, according to an online manual for the computer, so I ordered one of those. Thanks again for the feedback.

Bonus: was able to cancel the incorrect adapter before it shipped to save the hassle of a return!
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 08:32:02 AM by Frugal Consumerist »

fiftyincher

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2015, 08:19:46 AM »
Yep, you'll need an ide connection like Sparafusile linked. Once you get the drive out, plug it in and get your files. Pretty simple.

Capsu78

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2015, 10:09:11 AM »
Coming from someone who lost all his data and first 6 months of digital photography, I would think that $99 is cheap compared to the value of your data.  I would stop trying to DIY and pray to the computer gods that the last bit of good service you got out of that computer was a release of the data.
I even sent my HD off to a special recovery house who couldn't extract it.
And yes, I now have 3 external HD I regularly bu and keep 2 of them off site at my kids houses.

jda1984

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2015, 10:13:51 AM »
You may also need to change access permissions once the drive is mounted, but that isn't too tricky either.  I actually just did this last night.  Took about ten minutes to get the old HD out, connected to my new/current computer, and change the permissions.

Daley

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2015, 10:37:59 AM »
What you've purchased can be of value and isn't a bank breaker, so I'm not going pick bones over it. However, I'm going to respond to this thread with a bit of family lore.

My wife's grandfather was a Methodist preacher, and as such, his family moved a lot. After finally settling down towards the end of his career and the mobile family days were over, he found a box that had remained packed and sealed from the last move seven years prior. When he found it, he threw it out unopened, and was questioned for doing so. His response? "If I didn't miss whatever was in that box after all this time, I don't need what's in it."

FC, from what you've written, it appears that you have done without the files on that hard drive for over a decade. Perhaps you should consider using your new adapter and your valuable time to wipe the drive with DBAN instead, and pack it off to the recyclers instead of trying to do data recovery.



I would think that $99 is cheap compared to the value of your data. I would stop trying to DIY and pray to the computer gods that the last bit of good service you got out of that computer was a release of the data.

If you knew what I know about most bench jockeys, you would have never even considered this to be even remotely true. Electronics aren't some sort of black box voodoo, but $10/hour bench jockeys are far more reckless than even the greatest novice armed with an attention span longer than five minutes, Google and burning need to do data recovery. The components are parts that are only meant to fit together one way, and if you have to force it, you're doing it wrong. Paying for anything more is a lost opportunity cost.

Frugal Consumerist

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2015, 11:20:29 AM »
What you've purchased can be of value and isn't a bank breaker, so I'm not going pick bones over it. However, I'm going to respond to this thread with a bit of family lore.

My wife's grandfather was a Methodist preacher, and as such, his family moved a lot. After finally settling down towards the end of his career and the mobile family days were over, he found a box that had remained packed and sealed from the last move seven years prior. When he found it, he threw it out unopened, and was questioned for doing so. His response? "If I didn't miss whatever was in that box after all this time, I don't need what's in it."

FC, from what you've written, it appears that you have done without the files on that hard drive for over a decade. Perhaps you should consider using your new adapter and your valuable time to wipe the drive with DBAN instead, and pack it off to the recyclers instead of trying to do data recovery.




I would think that $99 is cheap compared to the value of your data. I would stop trying to DIY and pray to the computer gods that the last bit of good service you got out of that computer was a release of the data.

If you knew what I know about most bench jockeys, you would have never even considered this to be even remotely true. Electronics aren't some sort of black box voodoo, but $10/hour bench jockeys are far more reckless than even the greatest novice armed with an attention span longer than five minutes, Google and burning need to do data recovery. The components are parts that are only meant to fit together one way, and if you have to force it, you're doing it wrong. Paying for anything more is a lost opportunity cost.

I.P., I like the story. Thanks for sharing. I was actually thinking about doing just that. You are correct in that I haven't used it in ages and would be fine without getting the files recovered. But I have my college work on there (no thesis or anything, but plenty of papers) and wouldn't mind having those if it is easy enough to get at.

A side benefit is that I do like to tinker with things and if I can do it successfully I will get a feeling of achievement (despite it not being any sort of complicated process per your latter comment). And as for use of my valuable time, I figure I'll have some opening where my idle hands can do the work without a high opportunity cost.

Capsu78

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2015, 12:22:58 PM »
IP said:" If you knew what I know about most bench jockeys, you would have never even considered this to be even remotely true. Electronics aren't some sort of black box voodoo, but $10/hour bench jockeys are far more reckless than even the greatest novice armed with an attention span longer than five minutes, Google and burning need to do data recovery. The components are parts that are only meant to fit together one way, and if you have to force it, you're doing it wrong. Paying for anything more is a lost opportunity cost."

Duly noted!   One of the more challenging aspects of jumping from the corporate world to the 1099 world was loss of all IT support- even the surly variety!  I now have an independent "computer dude" whose rescue pitbulls like to jump up on me when I take my box in for service and he is worth every penny for me and my skill sets anyway.  My wife, OTOH, works for mega tech corp and has enough "suck" at the organization to have "handlers" at work that jump her stuff to the front of the service line!   

Daley

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2015, 02:26:20 PM »
The components are parts that are only meant to fit together one way, and if you have to force it, you're doing it wrong.

I just had a very old memory come back to me that is very relevant to this comment and FC's situation, so it's story time again. There is the axiom that the above is always true except when it isn't. It's a lot less common now, but back in the ribbon cable days (which IDE still harkened to), it could sometimes be easy to attach the cable upside down, especially with cheap cables and connectors. Normally this isn't a big deal at all, except for...

The 2.5" 44-pin IDE connector. Inside laptops, the drive would clearly only fit one way, but with external adapters with cheap connectors that don't block the orientation key pin (pin 20) on the 44-pin IDE end, it's theoretically possible to plug it in upside down. With any other ribbon cable interface with a drive, this matters not and will simply result in the system typically not booting until it is powered back off and the cable is plugged in the right side up. However, you'll note that the big difference (outside of pin count and pin spacing size) between the 2.5" IDE and the 40 pin desktop IDE connector are those extra four pins - pins 41-44, which carry power to the laptop drive. Now, pin 1 always sits next to the jumper pins on these 2.5" IDE drives, so, looking from the back with the circuit board down, it would be on the right, but after the four jumper pins. This is usually marked on the drive itself.

Anyway, I was working a bench job many, many moons ago, and this place had a brand new to the bench and unused for us at the time cheap 44-pin IDE to 40-pin IDE plus 4-pin molex power adapters (much like this one), and pin 20 wasn't blocked which let it be plugged in all higgledy-piggledy (much like the same linked example). I also had a tech at the bench with us who was the living embodiment of Murphy's Law. This guy nearly ran a drill bit through his fingers one time trying to drill out a stripped screw on a hard drive to do "data recovery" in another computer when all he had to do was boot the current system from a live CD and transfer the data without even cracking the case.

You can probably see where this is going. Laptop hard drive, ribbon connector carrying power that could be plugged in upside down (or even connected to the jumper pins), skilled $10/hour bench jockey, important data recovery and backup job. Well, our technical friend "Murphy" gets to work on this job. A few minutes later, I'm in the back and I hear a loud POP followed by an "oops" and the faint aroma of magic blue smoke being released. Murphy, one of our A+ Certified "professionals", fried both the drive and the adapter by plugging the drive in upside down. We had to hunt down another drive of the same make and model to replace the board before we could finally do data extraction.

My point is... um... oh right! FC, if the pictures are accurate on what you bought from Amazon that Sparafusile recommended, you should be fine (it looks like pin 20 is blocked on the smaller connector)... but pay attention to which pin is pin 1 on both the hard drive and the adapter anyway. Worst case, reading the instructions will probably be sufficient. If in doubt, check. Otherwise, it should just fit one way. Just don't connect it to the power and USB until you're sure it will only connect that one way. :)

Thus ends the story, and the lesson. Good luck!

Maybe someday I'll have to share the one about the field tech and a backward PCI network card. Some of the trench stories from over the years that I could tell are both horrifying and spectacular.

Frugal Consumerist

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 10:59:41 AM »
HAHA Oh man, thanks for the cautionary tale. I will be sure to double check the orientation. I will also be sure to wear safety glasses, just in case...

johnny847

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 01:29:26 PM »
From your description of the problem, your data is most probably fine and recoverable. It is possible that you're getting that error because the hard drive is so old it is failing S.M.A.R.T. checks (meaning it is having trouble correctly reading and writing data). However, what I think is more likely is that for some unknown reason, that file is just missing. Meaning while you can't boot the system, all the data is still there.

You've bought the correct adapter and I think the data recovery will work just fine. No need to pay $99 for "data recovery."

Paying for data recovery can be worthwhile if there is actual physical damage to a hard drive. In that case, using a dust and static free cleanroom can actually yield better results than what you and I could do at home.

frugalnacho

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2015, 08:39:20 PM »
I literally just did this tonight.  I had to recover an outlook file from a non functioning laptop.  I got a $5 SATA to usb enclosure from microcenter and put the laptop hard drive in it.    I doubt that an old laptop running win 98 used SATA though, probably IDE.  I also doubt you will need a torx bit as others have mentioned.  To open the hard drive itself you may need a torx bit (but you shouldn't be opening the hard drive), but to just remove it from the computer and put it inside and enclosure you should only need a small phillips head screw driver.

Step 1: remove old hard drive from laptop (you should be able to google laptop model number and find dis-assembly instructions if you get stuck)
Step 2: determine if it's IDE or SATA



Step 3: Get the correct enclosure from computer store or amazon (I'm guessing 2.5" IDE to USB)
Step 4: put hard drive into enclosure (you should have instructions with new enclosure)
Step 5: plug usb into your computer and move the files you want to save
Step 6: ???
Step 7: profit

Frugal Consumerist

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2015, 08:38:47 AM »
I literally just did this tonight.  I had to recover an outlook file from a non functioning laptop.  I got a $5 SATA to usb enclosure from microcenter and put the laptop hard drive in it.    I doubt that an old laptop running win 98 used SATA though, probably IDE.  I also doubt you will need a torx bit as others have mentioned.  To open the hard drive itself you may need a torx bit (but you shouldn't be opening the hard drive), but to just remove it from the computer and put it inside and enclosure you should only need a small phillips head screw driver.


Thanks for the step by step. I looked at the screws underneath and they looked like a six-sided star, not the traditional screws that can be removed with a phillips head, so I think that is torx. Got all the goodies last night and looking forward to doing it this weekend. Will update with successful/hilarious failure results.

frugalnacho

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2015, 09:19:53 AM »
I literally just did this tonight.  I had to recover an outlook file from a non functioning laptop.  I got a $5 SATA to usb enclosure from microcenter and put the laptop hard drive in it.    I doubt that an old laptop running win 98 used SATA though, probably IDE.  I also doubt you will need a torx bit as others have mentioned.  To open the hard drive itself you may need a torx bit (but you shouldn't be opening the hard drive), but to just remove it from the computer and put it inside and enclosure you should only need a small phillips head screw driver.


Thanks for the step by step. I looked at the screws underneath and they looked like a six-sided star, not the traditional screws that can be removed with a phillips head, so I think that is torx. Got all the goodies last night and looking forward to doing it this weekend. Will update with successful/hilarious failure results.

Yea that sounds like torx.  You can find the appropriate torx wrench at home depot for like $1-2. 

Spork

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2015, 09:36:51 AM »

The components are parts that are only meant to fit together one way, and if you have to force it, you're doing it wrong.


I know this is spinning waaaaay off topic, but IP's stories made me recall one of my own.

I was a Unixboy™ at  VeryBig, Incorporated.   Our data center was slowly moving from my world over to the Windows world.  They were setting up their first MS Exchange boxes back then.  Since no one had any experience, they hired a very expensive contractor from Microsoft.  The servers were huge Compaq boxes the size of R2D2.  MS contractor was populating it with CPUs.  Like IP's cable, these CPUs were plainly keyed.  They slid in one particular direction and there was a key slot on the card that WOULD NOT LET you put it in backwards.

High dollar MS contractor pushes and pushes and pushes on the CPU and just cannot get it to seat.  So he finally STANDS ON IT.  And it seats.  Power on.  Blue smoke smell.  The not-so-expensive PC tech guys pull it apart to see what he did.  It was backwards.  He'd made his own key slot.  Everyone laughs.  They buy another expensive replacement CPU.

You'd think that was the end.... but super expensive Microsoft contractor takes new expensive replacement CPU, places it in slot... cannot get it to seat... AND STANDS ON IT AGAIN.  Guess what?  Yep.  Backwards.  Blue smoke.

Daley

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2015, 11:44:44 AM »
High dollar MS contractor pushes and pushes and pushes on the CPU and just cannot get it to seat.  So he finally STANDS ON IT.  And it seats.  Power on.  Blue smoke smell.  The not-so-expensive PC tech guys pull it apart to see what he did.  It was backwards.  He'd made his own key slot.  Everyone laughs.  They buy another expensive replacement CPU.

Oh man, that's beautiful. That's quite possibly even better than my PCI NIC story.

I ran into this particular horror show and its photos during my early field training days at a parts repair depot with [redacted]. Again, some supposedly A+ certified rocket surgeon was sent out to replace a failed EISA NIC on a mission critical terminal, but all he had was a PCI card. Clearly, the PCI card wouldn't fit into the EISA slot properly... so this guy takes the metal slot cover of the new PCI NIC off and shoves the card into the EISA slot backwards. He then threads the network cable through the now open expansion slot to plug the cable into this now wholly internal NIC and proceeds to apply electricity. It was crispy.

And people wonder why I don't think certs in the tech industry are worth spit, especially when they're from CompTIA.

Spork

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2015, 12:57:42 PM »
...then there was the time the idiot surfer dude electrician set of the Halon twice in one day...

Frugal Consumerist

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Re: Recover Data From Broken Computer
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2015, 10:33:22 AM »
Thanks to everyone who chipped in advice. It ended up working perfectly and saved me $83. I wrote a brief post about it, if you're bored and have some time to kill.

http://www.frugalconsumerist.com/frugal-computer-repair/

But again, thanks everyone for helping out. Made things a lot easier!