Linux hard drive recovery and repair

Hard drive broken? Computer crashed? What now? Useful tips and tricks, tools and utilites for hard disk drive recovery and repair with Linux, for Linux distributions and non-linux operating systems. (ext2 ext3 ext4 reiserfs ntfs fat32, etc.). Next time make a backup! But for now …

[this is a work in progress; most recent updates 2011-08-01]

Linux hard drive recovery and repair

Some sources and resources

Maintenance for prevention of hard drive problems

Repairing a broken linux distro, filesystem, bootloader

Most distros – Fedora, Mandriva, SUSE, Ubuntu, etc. – come with a “fix” or repair option similar to the F8 options available when booting MS Windows. This provides a minimalist environment from which you can test a drive and run automated repairs (eg with fsck). However it’s best if you “touch” a broken drive as little as possible to avoid damaging data further and so using a boot-from-CD (or more commonly now DVD) tool is often best.

In addition to these options often a drive manufacturer – Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Hitachi, etc. – will have a tool to diagnose issues and possibly even perform some automated fixes.

  • [industry tools]

Finally there are tools to recover partitions, MFT, rebuild boot sectors, copy back or undelete eleted files.

  • TestDisk is a powerful free data recovery software. It helps recover lost partitions making non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table). Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy. and/or

Recovery of lost files, damaged partitions, broken RAIDS

  • Spinrite from Gibson Research: SpinRite v6.0 recognizes and operates on ALL file systems. It can even be used to repair and recover Apple Macintosh and Tivo hard drives by temporarily moving them into an Intel-based PC. It can also be used to check the health of drives that have not yet been formatted.

    SpinRite v6.0 brings along and automatically boots a copy of the FreeDOS operating system, so it will run even if you have no “DOS”. It can create bootable diskettes, CD‑R’s, USB Flash drives and other media.
  • Photorec despite the name is an application to recover any type of data file not just photos and pictures.
  • Seagate File Recovery Software, $99, for either MS Windows (.exe) or Mac OS (.dmg).

Manufacturer recommended recovery companies

Some manufacturers recommend data recovery companies instead of offering recovery tools. Some of these companies (famously OnTrack) offer their own software tools for download as well as offering a mail-in service for repair and recovery of files.

Western Digital’s “platinum” recommendations:

OEM supplied hard disk drive repair tools

All links tested March 2009.

5 Responses to "Linux hard drive recovery and repair"

I am surprised you don’t mention DDrescue which is very powerfull tool and free.
Maybe a bit complex for normal users?
There is a script (drhelp) that allows backward imaging to skip the cache issue when you perform such operation. Key factor in term of data recovery.

disk doctors recovery says:

best way is to read review first because they help you in determining what is best software for Linux hard drive

pittlickfun says:

Great website. Lots of helpful info here. I’m sending it to a few buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks for your sweat!

Blasth says:

Hello, In Spain you have a new option for Data Recovery, it has been created by people from other companies and it’s named Hard2bit Data Forensics Best regards!!

Lawn Care Specialists says:

I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!

Good luck for the next!

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