Here is a question about a laptop hard drive that was behaving badly. The user wants to save the data files on a drive where the Windows operating system was going south fast.

If you have a laptop with a single drive that holds your operating systems as well as your data, and the OS is starting to “lose it”, this might be a way for you to reclaim your data before reinstalling Windows.

I had an 80 Gigabyte laptop hard drive and a laptop-hdd-to-USB adapter. However when I connect it to another computer I can’t access it and it says “Unrecognized USB device”. How can I recover the hard drive and browse through the files? The hard drive has crashed and I’m trying to recover the files, for free preferably

P.S. Also, I would like to recover the drive so it can be used again.

My Response:

Three questions:

1. Does the drive even spin up? If you can’t get the platters to move, then you can kiss it goodbye. It’s game over.

2. Was the hard drive that was misbehaving formatted with NTFS?

3. Are you connecting it to a PC running some version of Microsoft Windows?

Security descriptors in NTFS will thwart your attempts to do what you are attempting. That’s part of the “benefits” of using NTFS.

Try this instead. If the drive still spins up, put it back in your laptop. Then go over to Lifehacker and read how to recover files using Knoppix. Knoppix is based on a linux kernel and resides completely on a CD.

To make this happen, you’ll need a bootable image of Knoppix and a tool that is capable of burning an ISO image onto a CD like ImgBurn.

Create your Knoppix CD, put it into your laptop and then boot your laptop from your CD drive. Once the Knoppix kernel is live and active, you should be able to mount the problematic drive and copy any salvageable files over to a USB flashdrive for restoration.

It’s ugly, but it works!

See Lifehacker source below.

You can also find links to ImgBurn and Knoppix in the resource section of this blog.

Lifehacker Geek to Live: Rescue Files with a boot CD