How to recover corrupted partitions?

I had these 5 old PATA hard drives in my closet, about 6 years old, and I plugged them into an equally old machine and booted it with Puppy Linux.

Only one of the five hard drives worked, it is a Western Digital WD400 40.0GB hard drive, which used to contain 20GB of family photos.

When I used GParted to see what partitions is had, I was surprised to find that the partition is SO corrupted that it couldn't even figure out what file system it was.

My dad wants the pictures from it, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to retrieve them from such a corrupted device.
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  1. Are you sayiing they've been sitting for 6 yrs?
    You can try recuva or testdisk but I dont usually have good luck in this kind of situation.
    http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step
    https://www.piriform.com/recuva
  2. Can you show us the contents of sector 0 with a disc editor, eg DMDE (freeware)? That's where the partition table is located.

    http://dmde.com/

    Does the drive show up in BIOS with its correct model number and its full native capacity?
  3. fzabkar said:
    Can you show us the contents of sector 0 with a disc editor, eg DMDE (freeware)? That's where the partition table is located.

    http://dmde.com/

    Does the drive show up in BIOS with its correct model number and its full native capacity?


    Sector 0 won't read. I do know now that the partition is FAT16 due to windows being installed once. If I were to get data off it I would need an application that can copy sectors off of hard drives without looking at their file system.

    Yes, it does show up in the BIOS and it is compatible with the motherboard, which has the model and serial number in its menu. And it says that it should hold 40.0GB.

    Thanks, anyway. I'll just put it back in the closet, It's probably broken. Sorry for wasting your time.
  4. @cheezyguy5, you started by saying that GParted saw a corrupted partition, but now you are saying that sector 0 is inaccessible. Those two observations are not entirely consistent. BTW, the file system would be FAT32, not FAT16.
  5. fzabkar said:
    @cheezyguy5, you started by saying that GParted saw a corrupted partition, but now you are saying that sector 0 is inaccessible. Those two observations are not entirely consistent. BTW, the file system would be FAT32, not FAT16.


    GParted found 2 corrupted partitions, but the disk checker tool I used said sector 0 was blank, which is why I'm assuming the drive is broken.

    And it actually was FAT16, Windows XP uses it and the drive used it.
  6. See the following article:

    Default cluster size for NTFS, FAT, and exFAT:
    http://support.microsoft.com/KB/140365

    The maximum FAT16 partition size for Windows XP is 4GB. If the drive really did have FAT16 partitions, then there must have been 10 of them.

    As for sector 0 being empty, that doesn't ncessarily mean that the sector is bad. It could just be that the drive has been "initialised". This process clears the partition table.

    I have also seen a drive that was corrupted by Microsoft's FIXBOOT. This resulted in the creation of a bogus 10MB FAT partition.
  7. I was assuming this corruption was due in part to the long term storage degradation of the magnetic information.

    Cheezyguy, how long have these drive been sitting?
  8. popatim said:
    I was assuming this corruption was due in part to the long term storage degradation of the magnetic information.

    Cheezyguy, how long have these drive been sitting?


    They had been sitting in a box for about 2 years before my dad set them on top of each other in the closet on a shelf a few months ago.

    That's always what happens when a drive sits too long, but I thought it only started degrading after 4 and half years like the manuals said.
  9. The newer the tech used in the drives the shorter the lifespan from bit-rot. I would think 40gb drives that were not using pmr would certainly last longer than a few years though.

    perhaps imaging one of the drive and run recovery against the image might yield something?
  10. popatim said:
    The newer the tech used in the drives the shorter the lifespan from bit-rot. I would think 40gb drives that were not using pmr would certainly last longer than a few years though.

    perhaps imaging one of the drive and run recovery against the image might yield something?


    When I try to make an image of the drive, it asks me to mount the drive, when I try to mount the drive, Puppy says it will not mount. When I try to run a disk recovery, it says the drive must be mounted.

    There isn't any use trying to get the data off of it, the drive itself is either broken/too corrupted to do anything about it, the only thing Puppy will let me do is reformat it, and the drive seems to think it has 2047 Terabytes worth of sectors. I'll just put it back in the closet.

    Thank you for the help. Do you know how to lock/delete a topic?
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