How can I recover data from my dead external hard drive?

Rescue Me! November 10, 2011
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I think my 750 GB external hard drive burned out today. It’s a WD Scorpio Blue housed in a Best Buy RocketFish 2.5″ enclosure. It’s worked fine for quite some time, but just this afternoon when moving some stuff back and forth between the external and my laptop, I got “cannot find sector” errors (I use the third-party file management app TeraCopy). This gave me cause for concern, so I spent quite a while in Windows 7 Safe Mode Robocopying most everything off of it. Finally, though, Windows no longer recognized the USB as being inserted, and even Diskpart no longer recognizes it either.

Right now, I’m trying the last-resort “drive in the freezer” trick that many swear by, while others claim is an urban myth. First off, can anyone confirm if this works (I plan on leaving it in the freezer over the long weekend), and secondly, can anyone give some (free) methods of recovering my data, should the freezer bring it back to life even for a little while?

The drive still spins, i.e. you can hear it humming (almost “breathing”) inside, but Windows does not recognize it as being plugged in. And it was just working about a couple hours ago…

I’ve heard of using a Linux Live CD, and either the GUI desktop to copy files off the Frankendrive or the DDRescue shell command in Linux. I am not at all very Linux knowledgeable, but I want the best chance of recovering my files (about 170-200G still there on the disc!) Can someone point me in the right direction to a totally n00bish guide to LiveCD HD rescuing, including doing this with DDRescue? And/or another very effective solution with a GUI?

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