Monday, December 16, 2019

Windows 2000 Professional hard-drive recovery 20 years later

In order to recover the hard-drive from a Windows 2000 Professional tower (Micron Millenia) that crashed during the summer of 2004 and has been kept inside:

First I removed the hard-drive from the very dusty interior of the tower. I plugged the IDE drive into my Asus laptop's (Windows 10) USB port using the Sabrent cable I purchased on Amazon for $20. The USB 3.0 to SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adapter Model: USB-DSC9. I hooked it up by plugging the drive into my laptop's USB port and also the 3-prong wall outlet... The drive showed up but I received "Please insert disk" error when I clicked on it inside File Explorer. Then I tried my laptop's second USB 3.0 specific port. Still showed up, but wouldn't open.

The drive showed up as a D:/ drive, but when I clicked on it, I got the message, "Please insert a disk"
When I looked for info about the drive, it said 0 GB, and "No Media."  I changed the drive letter from D:/ to W:/, which looked nice, but didn't do anything.

When I ran a chkdsk on the CLI, I found out it was a FAT32 Drive, but "No volume" and still couldn't access the files.

I changed the error code in the Registry from a 0 Hex to a 2 Dec (as per some tutorial), that didn't help...

I booted to BIOS and made sure the boot would recognize the drive as a Hard-Disk and not a Floppy or CD ROM drive. That changed the way the drive appeared within File Manager and seemed like a step in the right direction. It was at least represented appropriately as a hard-drive in terms of the graphic showing up in File Explorer, and looked similar to the graphic for my laptop's C:/ drive.

Using an Administrator Powershell, I tried to run a "RECOVER" command from the disk util i.e. DISK> prompt, which did nothing although looks like it does something.

I made sure the Drivers were up to date (they were), and checked out all the various info I could find within "Disk Management." I also tried to format the disk, but it wouldn't let me, said, "No Volume present" or something like that.

Finally, I realized my Sabrent power cable had a tiny switch on it, and I flicked that tiny switch (upon closer inspection in the daylight it's even labeled with "ON" and "OFF") and saw the blue light that was already on amplify and become brighter. I was optimistic at this point. But the drive itself was silent, and still no read off the disk.

Then I uninstalled the hard-drive entirely from the Disk Management window, or within the "Properties" window. At this point the physical drive finally started up and I heard it whirring. Boinkies!

The drive finally was recognized and popped up on the screen as a Micron D:/ drive and I was able to access all the files. The major mistake I made had to to do with giving the drive (I guess) not enough power supply for it to even start up. Once I amped up the amount of power I was giving it, it started up and I copied the drive over.

I'm fairly sure if I just had the power cable correctly set to the "ON" setting from the get-go I would've been in business from the start. Then again, I didn't even realize this switch was on the cable for the first couple of hours I had it set up. Also, I just read through the instructions which don't even mention the fact there's a sub-switch on the cable that determines the power flow to the unit. I guess they expect you to figure out the light goes from a dimmer blue to a brighter blue and see the slightly raised plastic text for "ON" and "OFF" on your own.

I immediately hooked up my Lacie rugged 2TB drive and did a "Select All" from within the Micron D:/ and copied it into a folder on the Lacie. This took a while to copy but it worked. Along the way, I noticed I kept getting messages about Windows 10 identifying and removing malware from the drive. Cool. I'd guess it removed around 20 Trojans.

I'll also note somewhere along the way I made sure "Show all hidden files and folders" was enabled for my browsing within the File Manager, not sure if this makes a difference for the Select All copy over I did from the root of the Micron D:/ drive. Or is there another utility that makes a "Disk Image" hmm... I should probably know this and wonder if it will impact an attempt or workflow for an OS re-install. We'll see. The tower itself is at a repair shop now, so if they can get it to POST I can have an attempt at booting up Windows with all the malware removed.

Another interesting note: This drive was from a Windows 2000 Professional computer that crashed and bit the dust around 2004. The drive had a bunch of "Trojans" on it which were identified and removed by "Windows Defender" that's on my Windows 10 laptop. Plus, exploring the drive now, there's tons of media (mp3s, wmv videos) that was hogging up the limited drive space (40 GB). No wonder it crashed, really.

You can access FAT32 formatted files on a NFTS drive, it doesn't require converting them. The mistake I made was with the cable and also not realizing that while modern drives (SSD) don't make any noise and are silent, this old one had some sort of spinning mechanism inside (I guess so it can write to the tape?) and once that started up it worked.

I also placed the drive when it was about 50% completed to copying the files over, on top of a wooden box with a space inside, so that it wouldn't overheat. I put my hand over and felt it was starting to warm up quite a bit.

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