Twenty-nine dollars and 99 cents: The software that saved my digital ass

Right on its 4th “birthday”, my primary hard disk hit the digital Purgatory on New Year’s Eve. It also took a secondary drive hostage, as if lightning had hit twice.

I spent several hours wondering why would two admittedly “ripe” Western Digital drives fail on me, then I decided to go get a brand new Barracuda drive and re-install Windows and worry about getting my data back later.

I back up data regularly but not that on my main drive. Getting overly confident is a bad state of mind when it comes down to keeping data safe.

So it happened, and my primary drive made whirring noises, refusing to boot. The other drive showed up as “dynamic” and Windows asked me repeatedly to format it.

Lots of data was at stake at losing, so with Windows Vista back on the new drive, I searched for software to reclaim it. My last resort would be to send the drives off to a data recovery company and risk paying up to $1,000.

It’d be a very costly mistake but thankfully, two pieces of software – one free and one priced at $29.99 saved my digital ass.

First, my primary drive was drilled down by TestDisk, a brilliant piece of software that is “designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make 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).”

In my case, the drive was clearly dying, judging from the metronome clicking sounds it made. The TestDisk software, however, pulled through like a champ and helped me locate my lost partition and reclaim and copy all 95 Gb of data into safety. All this, for free.

My other drive was salvaged using the Dynamic Disk Converter for $29.95. After running the demo version and confirming that my data was intact, I purchased the full version and in five seconds my drive was once again recognizable by Windows and ready to use. Needless to say, that I copied over all the data to a new drive.

Moral of the story: Back up all your data regularly and don’t rely on the alleged reliability of hardware brands; get a new drive every two years max, as technology improves as well (had no idea most drives now come with 32 Gb cache as a standard!)



  1. My hard drive failed on me a few weeks ago and I was luck and had just backed everything up on to an external drive! Glad you did not lose everything!

  2. Yikes! I’m glad you were able to figure out a fix. I’ve had way too many pieces of technology fail over the years. I have Carbonite now, which backs up everything automatically – although it’s good to have extra backups, just in case!

  3. TeenDomainer – I’m old school, hence the several drives in my tower desktop 😀 One will eventually fail, no matter what!

    Nadia – That’s a great service, in “the cloud”. Better than losing everything on a drive that span one rotation too many 😀

  4. I’ve been having some issues with my hard drive over the last couple of days. It’s so frustrating. I went out and bought a 32gb flash drive today to backup everything.

  5. I’m glad you were able to recover…
    That’s such a feeling of panic when things like that happen…

    Have a super 2012…
    ~Patricia Kaehler – Ohio USA – DomainBELL

  6. Belt and suspenders, Acro. Don’t want to be caught with your pants down, after all. 😛

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