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Failing External Maxtor Drive

“Been looking at replacing my now aging Maxtor backup drive, only for it fail. Extremely grateful for the work in returning my files.”

Neil Lassiter, Wantage

A 1TB Maxtor external hard disk drive arrived at our laboratory in Oxford from Wantage. When the hard disk from was examined by our hardware data recovery specialists they found no apparent faults with the drive. Our hardware engineers secured a sector-by-sector image of the drive a lengthy process due to encountering many unreadable bad sectors. During the first scan approximately a million sectors were unrecovered, with further scans required to patch sectors into the image, maximising the yield of sectors. Following the patching process, the number of unreadable bad sectors had been reduced to approximately 25 thousand.

During the hard disk manufacturing process a spare area on drive is allocated into which bad sectors are swapped when they are encountered. Over time hard disk drives slowly start to develop bad sectors, and by swapping them out to the spare area, it allows a significant increase in the lifespan of the drive. Eventually however, the spare area will become exhausted, after which any newly encountered bad sector cannot be swapped out, at which point it will be presented to the computer.

When our data recovery specialists examined the secured image of the disk, it revealed that the partition table sector was unreadable, the cause of the sudden failure. A scan of the image revealed a single 1TB NTFS file system across which the bad sectors were spread, affecting several file and directory metadata structures. An analysis of the file system revealed it to contain approximately 970GB of data comprising, videos, music files, photos, office documents and other assorted user files. A scan of the files revealed that most of the bad sectors were affecting a couple of the largest video files and about a dozen photos and music files. All other files were recovered intact and return to the customer on an external USB drive.

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