I seem to regularly hear stories about failing drives. Here is a collection of drive restoration resources and techniques from Fred Langa:

http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2002/2002-06-13.htm#1
http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2002/2002-06-20.htm#2
http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2002/2002-06-20.htm#3
http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2002/2002-06-24.htm#4

(it looks like Fred let his domain expire – hopefully it will be back soon)

Another gem is one I learned from a friend who used to work at the NSA –

Put the drive in a ziplock bag and pop it into the freezer for a few hours. This may revive it long enough to get the data off and onto another disk.

This last tip hints at the fact that disk drives are very temperature sensitive. Steve Gibson says that heat is the biggest cause of premature death. Use a case that has adequate drive cooling or consider drive heat sinks and additional fans. I really like the Zalman drive coolers. They do their cooling job well and also provide some sound isolation.

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