The 500GB Seagate ST9500420AS (D005SDM1) hard drive in my 2011 Dell XPS 15 crashed the other day and, although I had the most important data backed up, I would really like to save the rest of it. It had been running Fedora (23, I think), had 3 ext4 partitions and 1 swap partition. I would be grateful for any tips on how I could access the partitions.

So, when I boot the computer I get the following error:

Operation system not found.

The BIOS diagnostic tool gives the following error:

Error Code 0147. Msg: Error Code 2000-0147. Msg: Optical Drive 0 - self test -- OPU failed.

I booted the computer from an Ubuntu 17.10 live USB stick and received a lot of kernel errors about the hard drive. The syslog is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/86kyicthla8k367/syslog.txt?dl=0

There seems to be some kind of an input/output error, but Google hasn't got me anywhere yet. When I run Gnome Disks, it displays the disk as "500 GB Unknown" and no partitions, but in the "Assessment" field it says: "Disk is OK,one bad sector". (Screenshot: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b0fqe5vrwlc90gz/hd_problem.png?dl=0)

If I try to make Disks create an image, it says that it's unreadable and replaces the data with zeros.

If you have any ideas on how I could access the data again, I'd be really grateful.


It's iffy, the HDD might be too far gone, but suppose it's not. The preferred method is to use a low level tool to back up whatever readable parts are left to a bigger hard drive, then look for any needed files on the backup. Sometimes a 2nd copy of the backup is needed, (to run fsck without risk, etc.), so the bigger hard drive should be at least twice as large, (i.e.: 500GBx2=1TB or more).

Linux tools for backups of balky HDDs include command line tools like ddrescue and safecopy.

  • Thank you for that. I'm reading the documentation for these tools. Any tips on command line parameters for ddrescue that might be helpful in this case? – Olaf Oct 26 '17 at 18:13
  • @Olaf, Just try the default and see what happens. (Make backup with ddrescue, make 2nd copy of backup, if needed run gpart on 2nd copy, then run fsck on 2nd copy, then mount 2nd copy, and look for files.) Since there already exist good backups of most of the files on the disk, the copy needn't be perfect. With luck the corrupted files may turn out to be those that were already backed up. – agc Oct 26 '17 at 19:33

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