I am trying to recover from my main PC's hard disk crash so I'll be out of sight until the mess is cleaned up. The matter is made worse because I have been lax with backups. At this point, it looks as if it was a drive head crash which wiped out only 75 blocks out of millions of blocks. Unfortunately, at least a few of the blocks are needed to boot so it's dead for the moment. sigh.
I am now using SpinRite 6.0 to examine and attempt recovery of the unreadable sectors. If it does it's magic for me, $89 is well worth it and I would be more than happy to add my testimonial to the long list at Steve Gibson's geeky website. It's awefully slow though. Maybe it's because the drive is a SATA drive, not an IDE drive. So far, after 4 hours, it's 1% complete. 9 bad sectors found were found in that time but none were fully recoverable. Urgh.
SpinRite now estimates that it will take 395 hours to finish. Egads. Looks like I am gonna have to ask Steve for a refund. 😦
Gave up on SpinRite as it took 12 hours to process 2% of the disk. Recovery wise, it was unable to recover most of the bad sectors it found during that time. A bad sign. I went to Fry's a few hours to pickup a copy of XP Pro (couldn't find the CD at a glance and didn't feel like spending an hour looking for it) and a couple of 250G SATA drives. Installed one drive and attempted to install XP only to find out that XP didn't recognize the new drive because it didn't come with SATA drivers. Only way to to load the drivers was with a floppy. Found bunch of floppyless XP install questions but not many answers without a working Windows. So I ripped one out of an ancient abandoned PC in the garage and, after a bit of grunting and cable madness, got it installed, found the SATA drivers from Intel, fast forward and I am now entering the product key. Whew! I sure hope the files I need on the crashed drive are still there, intact.
Hurrah! Every more twist and turns, much of it due to Dell's mediocre driver slip-streaming practice which leaves store box XP installers clueless, system is back up with every device working. And I like the new faster quieter drives I got. Now all that remains is reloading all the software like Office, Visual Studio, and development tools. The best part is that none of the files I needed on the crashed drives seem damaged. I won't know for sure until I start opening and compiling them, of course.