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CRASHED! A topic for SEVERE and immediate Hardware and Operating System FAILURES. We will try to get you up again. NOT for Optimization questions!


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Old 1st March, 2007, 01:15 AM
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Nightmare scenario - lost data from primary & backup! Please help with suggestions!

My whole body was shaking when I realized what I had done...I may have now lost 10 years worth of files and data due to my stupidity and a bizarre sequence of events.

Please help by suggesting my best course of action and best data recovery software to try!

Here is the short story and situation:

I have one disk (WD 120GB) with all my data and a WinXP Pro install, This disk went through a defrag process with Norton Speed Disk that was stopped midway - stopped cleanly, but then Windows crashed a short time later (possibly due to a bad memory module). I put the disk through many chkdsk runs resulting in many chkdsk errors found; finally chkdsk gave up saying that the volume had unrecoverable errors. Following this, I did a fixmbr and fixboot on the disk using the WinXP CD Repair option. This disk also possbily got formatted by the WinXP install procedure of using the Quick NTFS Format option.

I have another disk (Maxtor 160GB) which has a bit older data, which also got inadvertently subjected to the WinXP install procedure of using the Quick NTFS format option. This disk had my slightly older data along with a corrupt WinXP installation from long ago.

What are my best options to recover my data? Please provide your suggestions and thoughts! Any suggestions/experience will be welcome.

I have come across the following programs to recover data. Has anyone had good or bad experiences with them? Can anyone suggest the best one of these or any other recovery program?
recovermyfiles.com
Runtime Software runtime.org/gdb.htm


_______________________________________________

Here is the long story with a sequence of events.

I bought a new DDRAM module - Corsair XMS 1GB, to match the 512MB Corsair module that I already had.

Installed the memory module, passed POST check, and booted into Windows without a problem. After about 10 minutes of normal usage, I concluded that the module was working fine! This may have been my most stupid moment! What happened to my skills in putting memory modules through night-long Prime95 tests before belieiving it to be good?!

Decided to get my system to work even better by defragmenting the drive and optimizing the files using Norton Speed Disk. I have always been very careful and conservative in the past with defrag programs, always allowing them to complete and not attempting to pause or stop them. This time I was lured by the Stop Optimization button on Speed Disk, and decided to use it in order to allow my wife to use her account on the computer for a bit. Speed Disk stopped without complaining and also closed without any issues. I was thoroughly impressed!

My wife logged into her account, and was in the middle of a Skype session when the audio went out. I closed Skype and restared it only to get a whole bunch of "access violation" messages. This should have triggered my brain into suspecting the memory module, but in my foolishness, I decided that the best thing to do would be to restart Windows. Windows did not startup. It got to the WinXP logo screen and BSDed with a recommendation to run chkdsk on the next boot.

I assumed that this would be a good course to take, since the last file that Speed Disk was optimizing was probably left hanging, and chkdsk could correct it. So I ran chkdsk on the next boot up in Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Chkdsk informed me that it could not run immediately, and would do so at the next restart. I restarted and it did run. It found a _whole bunch_ of errors, got past checking files and got to checking indexes and then simply hung.

I tried resetting the system and running chkdsk again only to get a hang or a BSD. Same result with using chkdsk from the WinXP CD Reair option.

I could possibly still recover data from a old Maxtor 160GB drive that I had with somewhat dated data. This disk had a corrupt WinXP install along with all my data from a few months ago. It was from this disk that I had recovered from my previous WinXP crash. The files were accessible but Windows was corrupt on this disk. I had about 50 GB of unpartitioned space on this 160GB disk, so I decided to try and format this and install WinXP into it. While attempting to run the WinXP install, and formatting this unpartitioned space, I selected the unpartitioned space shown under F: and chose to format it with the Quick NTFS option. When it started partitioning however, WinXP showed me that it was formatting the C: drive - my primary WD 120GB drive that had just crashed! Very weird. In retrospect I think this was related somehow to WinXP's inability to recognize disks larger than 137GB. I was pretty sure I had selected the upartitioned space, and yet it was reformatting my primary drive on C:! Or at least it was saying so.

I decided that the next best thing to do would be to break my Raid 1 mirrored Maxtor 300GB set and use one of it temporarily to install WinXP and get a bootable system. If I did that, I could then recover data from my Maxtor 160GB though the data was from a few months ago. To be careful, unplugged the power from all other drives but one Maxtor 600 GB. By this time my mind was numb and my eyes were not looking at the screen properly, and I was getting pressed for time, as I had to catch a flight in a couple of hours. Instead of the 300GB I had connected the 160GB. They look so similar on the POST screen that stays up for just a second, and I didn't notice this blunder. Without noticing it, I went ahead into the WinXP Install procedure, and formatted the drive. I used the Quick NTFS format option, and when the format began I saw my blunder as it informed me the progress of formatting my 160GB drive - the drive from which I was hoping to restore my data! I was banging my head against the wall for 2 minutes upon realizing this. I had just lost the backup copy of 10 years worth of files and data! My body was literally shaking for 15 minutes before I could compose myself into thinking about what to do next.

As I retrospect, I am not sure as to whether the problems were caused by the bad memory module or by Norton Speed Disk. Perhaps it was a combination of the two. I am not even 100% sure that the memory module is really bad. Very poor show on my part in not testing hardware out before trusting it; even worse of a show in not backing data up before attempting a defrag using software that I had never used before; and inexcusable stupidity in stopping the defrag process midway, without ever having verified before that it is okay to do so.

I am dearly hoping that one of the data recovery programs can restore some of my data for me. Any thoughts, ideas and advice on the best data recovery programs/procedures would me much, much appreciated!

I write this long post so that at the very least my story will lodge in the minds of some readers, and will cause them to be cautious when they do dangerous things like I did. The single most valuable lesson from this was to not embark upon such things when you are pressed for time. Never, never let the clock make you adopt a hurried attitude - this inevitably results in serious errors in judgement.
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Old 1st March, 2007, 01:43 AM
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Welcome to AOA Forums, mooo. I wish we "met" in more felicitous circumstances!

Using anything Norton is prohibited in my book and any "Quick" format is also. Hopefully someone will suggest a good HDD recovery program. If that won't work most of the data on the drive will probably be recovered by a professional outfit. AFAIK, there's an outfit in Florida that'll get most of the data from the drive, for about $600.
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Old 1st March, 2007, 03:40 AM
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Do not write anything on the disk until you recover your data. I had Search and Recover 3 from Iolo but haven't use it yet. Sorry.
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Old 1st March, 2007, 04:47 AM
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I'm no data recovery expert, but I've managed to recover a few drives (even in failed RAID arrays). I have to say that I suspect your best bet at this point is to send it to a data recovery house along with a detailed explanation of what happened.

The drive that has been repartitioned and formatted is basically toast unless you want to spend some serious bucks, IMO (we are talking into the thousands of dollars). The drive that you did the quick format on can probably still get most of your raw data, but restoring the file structure will likely be very difficult. Again, your best bet (IMO) is to send it to a data recovery outfit, and the folks Cloasters mentions can probably handle that for the $600 figure.

Again, I'm not a data recovery expert, and the last time I had need of such services was about 8 years ago, so things have probably changed a lot since then.
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Old 1st March, 2007, 03:58 PM
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if its just a quick format, its probably only removed the file pointers, and hasn't actually erased anything... your files will remain there (although you won't know they are there cos they have no pointers), until you write over them. There are programs out there that can recover from this, but it takes a long time, and even then it may not get files back in good condition. Data recovery is a pricey business if you want to take it further than that. I know here in the UK it can be £2k, but I haven't done extensive (or any, other than listening to passing comments) research into this.
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Old 1st March, 2007, 04:09 PM
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The long format option effectively writes over each sector on the disk. The only way you can recover data from it is by sending it off to a professional lab.

The drive that has been quick formatted might be in a better state. However, the first rule of any type of recovery using just software is to NOT USE THE ORIGINAL DISK! That means you need to work on a copy of the disk (Linux DD can do this happily for example). Intelligent copiers will not work, as they'll assume the filesystem that's on the disk is valid. (Encase will work really well, but is stupidly expensive for what you want)

Then you can run a recovery program like "RecoverMyFiles" on the copy of the disk. It'll take a very long time, as basically it works by scanning each sector on the disk to see if there's any kind of file allocation structure there. Note that some tools work best on FAT, and others on NTFS. Which file system was on the older disk?
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Old 1st March, 2007, 04:18 PM
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Thanks everyone, for the suggestions. I didn't realize that the recovery programs would/could write to the disk, and I should first copy the entire disk before trying anything.

Given the cost of the a recovery shop vs. a spare drive + recovery software, I think I will try recovering using software first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Áedán
Note that some tools work best on FAT, and others on NTFS. Which file system was on the older disk?
It is NTFS. Both drives are NTFS.

I find this marketing claim from GetDataBack (Runtime Software) to be tempting to believe:

Get everything back-

Advanced algorithms will make sure that all directories and sub directories are put together as they were, and that long file names are reconstructed correctly.
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Old 1st March, 2007, 06:15 PM
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I use a program called file scavenger and it has managed to recover data after a format. recovered most of the date after a repartition once also. It is a mere 40 bucks or so. Once you write to the drive it becomes more difficult to recover the data.
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Old 15th March, 2007, 06:11 PM
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Ok first I must echo the sentiment of DON'T USE NORTON! I would strongly suggest you get yourself a copy of Spinrite 6.0 - available at www.grc.com - as it has excellent capability at recovering data from ALL types of partitions. It isn't cheap, but WELL worth the money.
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Old 28th December, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Recovered!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuknow View Post
I use a program called file scavenger and it has managed to recover data after a format. recovered most of the date after a repartition once also. It is a mere 40 bucks or so. Once you write to the drive it becomes more difficult to recover the data.
Just in case somebody reads this thread, in a similar situation, I wanted to feedback...yes I realize that it is a long long time since my drives crashed. I had given up on them and went for a year in despondency, doing nothing. I finally did decide to try out File Scavenger, and lo and behold, all my files - ALL of them - have been recovered!

It did make me wonder why I had all those files if I could do without them for a whole year...

If anybody is reading this finding themselves in a similar situation, do try out File Scavenger. I don't believe it wrote anything to the drive while attempting to recover files.
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Old 28th December, 2008, 03:20 PM
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Arrow

Wow Mooo...this post is years old & you finally decided to try & recover your files.
Glad the end result wasn't what you expected & instead got everything back!

You don't know what the end results are going to be unless you at least "try".
This applies to other things in life as well...the worst thing that will happen is you will fail, but not even
trying is worse than failing.

I "Once" accidentally formated my storage drive while I was in a hurry doing a fresh install of XP.
It had ALL of my backups & files on it!!!
It was just a stupid mistake but one I learned from.

Much to my surprise I recovered 95% of all the programs & data I had stored on it using OnTrack EasyRecovery Pro formatted partition recovery.

I haven't had to used the program since, but it's nice to know it's there if I need it.
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Old 28th December, 2008, 05:47 PM
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All is well that ends well.":O}
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Old 28th December, 2008, 06:03 PM
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Glad you got it sorted and we where here to help!
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Old 28th December, 2008, 09:47 PM
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"Old" news can be good news. Congratulations on recovering your data!
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Old 28th December, 2008, 11:53 PM
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I find news is best served cold!

Indeed I prefer history altogether! ":O}
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Old 29th December, 2008, 06:06 AM
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I found that GetDataBack is really effective but expensive.
Good to see you got all your data back.
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Old 30th December, 2008, 04:54 AM
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Sweet deal. That program is worth the $$$$.
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Old 2nd January, 2009, 08:15 AM
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Your not alone

Mooo,
I have also lost data by my own goofs. I researched and tried many trials of data recovery software that is affordable and settled on Rstudio. Consider installing it on another computer and pull the hard drive from the failed machine and use a usb hard drive adapter to attach to the good machine. Bytecc makes a combo usb adapter with sata,eide & 2.5 drive for about $30 US. Rstudio is about $80.
I assume you tried safe mode and system restore to earler time. Rstudio can read the drive even after reformats.
Paragon software also has partition software that can sometimes recover the old partition too.
I have used these programs for a few years with good results, but recently did the same thing on a Vista laptop without having a recent backup.
Best of Luck,
geojim
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Old 2nd January, 2009, 06:20 PM
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Hey geojim55, Welcome to the AOA forums even if this will be your first & last post here...
Kinda like a "Drive by" forum poster dude!!! LOL We get our share of those here...
Speaking of which, DieVersion hasn't been back since his first post...
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Old 2nd January, 2009, 07:13 PM
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Muffin...tell me your not trying to make people who aren't here feel guilty...":O}
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