When it comes to hard drives, often the data on the hard drive is much more valuable than the hard drive itself. We often expect the data to always be there, and that nothing bad will happen to it. As a result, we often decide we don't need to make backups of our data, because these instances of hard drives failing are unlikely.
Until recently, that is exactly what I was like. The day this changed was (ironically) December 21st 2012.
This day was just like any other. However, while playing Gran Turismo 5, after recently finishing an online race, the game froze.
I thought "Okay, this isn't the first time the game froze. I'll just have to power off, restore data, yada yada"
But that isn't how it happened this time. Instead the file restore process got stuck at 29% for about 5 minutes. After which, the orange HDD light shut off, and then the system restore mysteriously jumped to 48% then steadily climbed to 100% and finished.
However, after finishing, the screen popped back up. "The file system is corrupted and will be restored"
The same thing happened on all 5 or so attempts I tried. At this point, I resorted to looking up this problem. However, all the threads I came across said the worst possible thing. They all said that the hard drive, and all the data on it, is done for. They said that the only way to fix the hard drive would be to reformat it.
There is no way I would format my hard drive and lose all my data. Not just all the hours of progress, but also all of the irreplaceable data, such as replays of online races.
I searched frantically all over the internet. Doing any kind of Google search I could think of that relates to this problem. Again, on every other forum, they all said that the hard drive is finished, and must be reformatted.
I wouldn't give up. After some more frantic searching, and more unnerving forum posts, I stumbled upon one lonely website page. It told me all the information I would need to repair my hard drive, and keep all my valuable data.
Here is what you will need to fix your hard drive, and keep your valuable data.
A hard drive is made up of sectors. Generally, hard drives have 512 bytes per sector, or about 2,000,000 sectors per gigabyte. However, if even a single sector is damaged, the entire hard drive becomes unreadable, even though the data is still there.
I removed my PS3 hard drive and plugged it into my PC.
I looked at various software, designed to do different things. I tried a few of these, but to no avail. I was beginning to accept that all of my data was truly gone. But then I tried a program called HDD Regenerator.
HDD Regenerator is designed to repair hard drives, by repairing damaged sectors. The program will scan your hard drive, and point out and restore any damaged sectors.
If you're lucky, there will be only 1 damaged sector. Meaning you can fix your hard drive using the free trial version of the software. However, if you are in the same pickle that I was, with 2 or more damaged sectors (My hard drive had 3 damaged sectors), you will have to pay the eye-watering price of $100 for the full version.
After a night to sleep on it, I decided it was worth it. I can earn back $100. That data isn't so replaceable. I let the program run for about an hour to scan through my 120 GB hard drive. After it fixed the 2 sectors (the trial fixed 1 other sector), I slapped the hard drive back into the PS3 and tried again.
As expected, the message popped up "The file system is corrupted and will be restored". Again, I thought the same thing would happen. When it reached 29%, where it got stuck before, I got nervous. Indeed, it did get stuck at 29%, but only for a few seconds, before creeping to 30%. Then 31%, 32%, etc.
After it finished, a big SONY logo appeared on the screen. I then had to reconfigure the internet settings, clock settings, PSN settings, and such.
Got back on, all the data was still there! All the games, replays, and even the keyboard word history remained intact!
After this, I immediately set up a full-system backup, and will make a new backup on a weekly basis. I learned my lesson.
Hopefully no one has to lose their valuable data.
Glad all went well for you! I too have a lot of replays, pictures of club events and it would be horrible to lose. One question, when you plugged it into your computer, did you have to initialize it? There was a post from yesterday where someone did this and made their drive unreadable by the PS3. Were you using a PC/Mac and what OS? Here is where this guy ran into this problem of initializing his HDD from his PS3 when trying to clone his drive to a larger HDD.
Also Gojet, I would invest in another HDD soon. You may have a failing HDD and this may happen again.
I tried UFS Explorer. Unfortunately, it could not see any of the encrypted PS3 data. The only way it could help was by making an image of the hard drive, but it couldn't make images of the bad sectors.
Thanks for helping out though, MasterGT.
No, I didn't have to initialize it. Windows 7 just didn't recognize it. It knew something was plugged in, but nothing showed up on the My Computer menu.
However, HDD Regenerator brings up a list hard drives connected to the computer. Of those was the C: drive (the one my PC uses) and a 111 GB Toshiba MK1255 (something like that). I knew the PS3 used Toshiba hard drives, and I knew it was advertised as 120 GB, so 111 GB is kind of what I expected to see as its actual capacity.
I clicked on the 111 GB Toshiba, and a window that looked like Windows's command prompt showed up. It asked me to type in a number to select an option, such as 1 (scan only), 2 (scan and repair), and other not-important-right-now options.
The system went through the hard drive. If it encountered a bad sector, it automatically fixed it on the spot.
Again, I really hope no one has to lose their valuable data. Make backups!
Even then, the PS3 encrypts data to each specific PS3. So I don't know what to do if the PS3 itself goes kaput.