I does sound like hard drive failure. I recently was hipped to this awesome utility that actually recovers bad sectors. It's called HDD Regenerator
. There is a trial version that will only find and recover one bad sector at a time (you just have to keep rerunning the program to restore all the bad sectors, but it takes an extremely long time and a lot of clicks to do it that way). I ran the full version on my nephews external drive (which windows, Mac OS and linux couldn't even detect properly) and all of a sudden I could see his files and actually open some of them. I'm still letting it run at home (his HDD was in bad shape, probably thousands of bad sectors)but already I can see that this program is amazing.