Topic: Western Digital IDE 500GB drive

Hello all,

I'm sort of new to Linux but I have recently jumped in to stay for good.  I came across GParted and it looked pretty cool.  Now I see it has its own distro and I read it can do wonders with hard drives.

Well I have this Western Digital IDE 500GB drive that I pulled out of an external USB chassis which I used for my business' laptop.  Needless to say it quit working for whatever reason.  So I thought it would be a great way to test the recovery aspects of GParted.

Before I get started with this my question is this.

Am I expecting too much?

I did plug this in my computer but it says 100% full and Windows will not display a Directory list.  The drive is virtually silent and does not feel like there is a hardware problem.

Has anyone experienced something like this?  And are there positive outcomes?  I was ready to completely wipe this but I would like to try a pull off some old downloads.

Thanks in advance.  I am going to continue reading in here.  Great stuff.




Re: Western Digital IDE 500GB drive

An IDE hard drive is perhaps quite old. I would suggest to check for hardware issues. The GParted live cd can boot a linux environment, where you can run some check processes. I would suggest to use the latest stable GParted live. I precise that it is always possible to run such checks from within other Linux distributions, however in case of problem you couldn't be sure if it comes from a faulty drive or from some missing library or other software part. GParted live contains everything GParted needs.

A first check is done by GParted: it reads the partition table and displays info about partitions on graphic screen. In case of any serious problem (hardware or software) that prevents GParted from detecting that info, nothing is displayed. If the drive's hardware is detected but the partition table is somehow broken, then the drive can appear empty.

Another check can be done by watching the output of the "dmesg" command from the terminal window as "root". For this you have to open a terminal window and write the command

sudo dmesg

before plugging the drive to the usb port. After plugging the usb connector you can follow the system messages in the terminal. Normally, within a few or more seconds (it can be usually up to 30 seconds). If you take repeated messages about "I/O errors" this means that the system tries and retries to read from the hard drive but it get no reply. In this case, a hardware problem is highly probable at the drive level.

A further check can be done by using the SMART information stored on the drive by the drive's firmware. The firmware keeps information on anything happens during the drive's work, especially read/write problems and bad sectors. Special software can read this info and display it to the screen. GParted live contains "smartctl". You have to run the command

sudo smartctl -a

from a terminal window. This command delivers lots of information, as well as a health report at the end.

If you don't detect any serious hardware problem, the issue is probably related to some software problem, e.g.  broken partition table (hard drive's boot sector) or broken partition boot sector, or broken filesystem.
If the system detects the hard drive, it gives it a name similar to "/dev/sda" or "/dev/sdb" etc (the final letter can change according to the other disk devices detected by the system on bootup). If the partition table is valid and contains one or more partitions, they are numbered as "/dev/sda1", "/dev/sda2" or  "/dev/sdb1", "/dev/sdb2" etc.

Another software you can use is "testdisk". It is included in the GParted live media. Furthermore, it is available with it's own live cd too, from the web page "cgsecurity"  together with the file recovery software photorec.
Testdisk scans the entire hard drive's space to detect lost partition info and tries to rebuild a broken partition table or similar partition-related issues.

Finally, a broken filesystem can be hard to recover, even impossible in some cases (that's why keeping backup of important files is always the best practice). GParted includes some check commands, however for the ntfs filesystem you need almost always the "chkdsk" command from the dos window.

*** It is highly recommended to backup any important files before doing resize/move operations. ***


Re: Western Digital IDE 500GB drive

Thanks for getting back.  I will check out what you suggested and report back.