I just wanted to share a revelation...I had a SATA hard drive given to me and it had too many bad sectors to use, except as a tester for me. I had quite a few Linux DVDs downloaded on it that I had not burned or copied off yet, when it started acting weird. Well, I tried a Puppy Linux Live CD, surprise Puppy couldn't see it, even after I used the onboard SATA verification tool, but I tried Hiren's Seagate hard disk tool first, which failed it of course.
However after the SATA tool, Mint Linux boot again and I burned a few DVDs, then it stalled again and I'd re-boot...this went on until one time it didn't boot into KDE, but into the terminal, when I typed startx, up came GNOME instead, and I found out I wasn't allowed to mount the USB attached hard drive, so I burned another DVD. Surprise, when I boot-up again it was in KDE again.
So sometimes Live CDs or Boot CDs can't save a hard disk's data, but if it's SCSI or SATA, try the controller verification. I wonder what part of the hard drive developed bad sectors that has caused the death bell for this hard drive...any idea where to look?
Until I get a chance to put in another hard drive, I'll have fun testing some Live CDs on this P4 running at 2.8 GHz with 2 GIG RAM in a Gateway E-Series case. So far Ultimate built on Ubuntu 10.4 loaded really slow, I even pushed F1 and Esc keys, forgetting there was no background terminal display and ejected the DVD, then I get something on the screen and put the DVD back in and it does boot-up finally.
Typing this from Sidux, which is really fast on it...