Hard drive/SSD data recovery

The SSD hard disk of my Dell Inspiron has crashed and I am not able to access any of the data on the file disk. I’ve tried Dell Assist tool which has identified a faulty partition table and tells me that I need to replace this drive! When starting my laptop it will not load Windows 10 and instead falls into a loop trying to fix the problem and rebooting itself. I am aware that there are companies that specialise in data recovery. Has anyone had experience using these services? How “safe” are they as regards any personal/sensitive data?

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Hi @Bertie, welcome to the community. Assuming that the Dell Inspiron isn’t under warranty, whilst I can’t offer an guidance in relation to businesses which may assist with data recovery, there may be another option worth trying.

Depending on the make and model of the hard drive, it may be possible to get a cradle which can hold the hard drive and be used as USB drive. This may be allow you to run some of your own checks before approaching someone else for support. The cradles or enclosures look like this one:

It may also allow you to recover data on the drive to the new hard drive. If the old hard drive has ‘died’, the cradle can be used to hold a new hard drive and for backups so that you have another copy of the data should another drive fail or the data is corrupted for some reason in the future.

Using a cradle means that you will need to be confident in removing the old drive and inserting in to the cradle…and inserting the replacement drive into the Dell Inspiron. Dell in years gone by has offered assistance either through detailed instruction or other physical support. If the hard drive is removed by a Dell Techie, maybe ask then to put the old drive into the cradle for you.

If it is still under warranty, they should do the data recovery for you and something I would be asking of them when you put in your warranty claim for the hard drive.

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It is almost certainly an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, not a SATA device nor HDD. AFAIK there is no external cradle for those.

If @Bertie knows someone with a desktop with an M.2 slot, and specifically a secondary M.2 slot he could put his SSD into that and have a look.

Alternatively he could boot from a USB device with a debug system (Windows or linux) and try a recovery tool.

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Worth trying, but I have never seen any warranty that includes any responsibility whatsoever for the data. Indeed, prior to sending it for service or repair one is told to perform a backup, and hopefully @Bertie has a very recent one :wink:

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There are cradles for M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs, they are a little more expensive. This is an example:

That is another good alternative solution.

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Thanks for that. :slight_smile:

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I was thinking if a tech comes out to do the drive exchange, then they might be willing to assist with data recovery or as a minimum, place the drive in the cradle. @Bertie will need to know what type of drive is installed on the machine (the specs on purchase should indicate the type of drive) and purchase it before the tech arrives. They are reasonable easy to insert if one is careful…and there are Youtube videos:

while each cradle might be slightly different, the overall concept is the same.

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Most are highly reputable. They also cater to commercial markets and small businesses where the data is their business. Recovery can cost from a few $100’s to $1,000’s so be prepared.

Your SSD problem could be failed hardware bits (somewhat likely), a software induced trashed partition table (possible but rare), or a bad slot (less likely).

From a random Melbourne company for potential $ perspective…

image

Please let us know what you do. Your experience may help others.

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There are PCIe external boxes that allow you to use USB ports to read the drive, below is an example of one but is not a recommendation of purchase

https://computers.mwave.com.au/m/electronics/Pcie-Nvme-Enclosure

There are many more that can be searched for on the web.

There are some software tools that even with the drive still in place can try to recover the partition table for a user, often with some recovery and hopefully a useful drive again. An example of one and again no recommendation (it may have a free version)

https://www.easeus.com/partition-recovery/index.htm

Or another

https://www.minitool.com/free-tools/minitool-partitionrecovery.html

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Hi phb, PhilT and grahroll, thanks for your comments and advice! I’ve gone back and checked the specs of this laptop and ooops, I’ve made a big mistake, it is not an SSD but an HDD. Here are the specs:
image,
It is the 1TB HDD that has failed.
This laptop was purchased Feb 2019 so unfortunately out of warranty. Just a month ago I had to purchase from Dell a new battery+adapter+power cable because the battery was approaching end of life, believe it or not… but that’s another story. I haven’t yet replaced that battery.
I will study your suggestions regarding data recovery from the HDD. Will keep you posted.
Thanks again.

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If you can boot up windows, then the drive may be quite repairable.
Windows has commands to fix partition table corruptions and the master boot record.

So that does assume you have a Win10 install disk, or have made a recovery disk when you first bought your computer.

There is freeware out there like AOMEI partition assistant that you can download, boot off, and fix the partition table issue. But that needs another computer to use to prepare the boot DVD or USB.

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Depending one one’s use and battery care two years is not unreasonable. If you leave it plugged in to charge all the time it will reduce battery life. Batteries also have designed recharge cycles before they degrade, say 400 (or whatever).

To your HDD problem, an HDD is often somewhat forgiving when the tables get trashed. The tools @grahroll or @Gregr mentioned might be straightforward repairs with the HDD connected to a running PC. If you cannot remove the HDD and put it in a caddy, booting off a USB stick with a minimal OS to run the tool should be fairly straight forward, although could be intimidating for those on their first go with such problems to fix.

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