View Full Version : I've just lost all my data, is there any hope?

10-31-2004, 03:34 AM
Hello everyone.

Today is a sad day for me. I've recently had some electricity issues in my room where power became unreliable to the point that lights were dimming and my computer restarted (accompanied by a complaining spark from an electrical outlet on the opposite side of my room) within 10-30 seconds of my turning it on.

That being said, I disconnected my computer and moved it downstairs to a more suitable power supplying environment. Upon bootup and attempted access of my F: Drive however, I got a message somewhere along the lines of "F: Drive disk structure is corrupted and cannot be accessed." Scared out of my mind, I hastily ran "chkdsk F: /f /r /v" from a "cmd" Command Prompt, since my F: Drive had everything on it, literally over 120 gigabytes of MP3's, animation backups and College homework on it.

After chkdsk completed and made a bunch of reseted security attributes adjustments, added what looked like 20 gigabytes (the F: Drive is a 160 GB drive) to the Bad Clusters File and corrections to the MFT bitmap and volume files however, I was grief-stricken to find that my F: drive was now reporting it had 123 gigabytes free and was now completely empty. Over a half decade of collected music, video, pictures and personal work gone. This happened less then 15 minutes from my typing this post and I'm still holding back tears.

Now I've read a few articles about true file deletion, both in newspapers and in articles right here on TweakTown, such as the recent "Spyware and Adware Removal Guide Ė Speed Up and Free your PC" Guide, from which I quote from Page 4:

".....which properly removes files from your system by using the US Department of Defense recommendations for secure file destruction. You might think when you delete a file from your PC it is gone but it isnít really Ė if someone wanted to find it bad enough, they could."

So I have to ask. Is all hope truly lost? Is there a way I can possibly recover the 120+ Gigabytes of data I'd accumulated throughout more then 6 years of my life that my computer told me I lost today?

My harddrive is a Western Digital 160GB w/ 8MB cache. Since running the "chkdsk F: /f /r /v," I've disconnected it from my computer and have refused to even look at it in fear of ruining any chance I might have at data recovery. I'm willing to try absolutely anything at all to get it back. Anyone and everyone, please respond with any idea you may have at all. I don't care how low a chance of recovery it has or how crazy it sounds. Truly, this is my S.O.S. for any help at all.

.....and the greatest part of this tragedy is, I bought this harddrive less then a month ago and transferred the 120+ gigs of data to it from 2 other seperate harddrives in the hopes of creating a secure backup to guard against exactly this kind of situation. If I weren't so sombered and sullen by my loss, I might be amused enough by the irony to crack a half-smile.

Please....any help at all....thank you.

10-31-2004, 04:53 AM
NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER USE SCANDISK OR FDISK ON ANYTHING... get some software from u HDD manufactors homepage or get a ultimat boot CD with all the tools on.... its something microsoft have made and are around 100% worthless.....

TRY this one it have em all....

http://tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287.. har are all the tools u need....

But it sounds like its gone now and u need to recall u NTFS system... therea are a few programs to do that thsi is one of the best i think GetDataBack - Data Recovery for NTFS V2.31. its made in a FAT32 also...

but its not free but there are a few others out there... that u could try Google is u friend mate..

And dont worry some of thies programs will get all u data back even when that have been formatted 10 times and over written 5 times.. so it should be NP at all.... but if its so importend i whould buy getdataback.... and it takes a month to get the money back from it if u tell peps and u friends u can help em if they lose all there data....

but another thing BACK UP........ my friend or just burn things out on a cd every now and then... helps alot and save u alot of troble.


10-31-2004, 05:01 AM
With CDR's so cheap I can't understand why people just can't backup their important data.

10-31-2004, 05:21 AM
Don't despair; you can get back everything. It may be painstaking, difficult, and even costly (hopefully not), but it can be done.

To start with, don't use the drive again until you've recovered everything. Don't install anyting or put any files on it. This will make things much harder.

Now read this thread (http://forums.tweaktown.com/showthread.php?t=15557) in its entirety. Your problem is slightly different in that you've completely lost your file system, but using a file recovery program, you sohuld be able to get everything back, though it could take a while. You should also be putting the files on a different hard drive as putting anything on the one with lost files could mean you write over older files, which again, will make things harder for you. You may also have to find a different program than everythinh we listed back then for recovering file on an NTFS partition since that person had a FAT32 partition.

To stop you from going crazy in the process, which could take a while, I suggest you only look for things which you truly need and get back easily. Start by looking for your homework.

10-31-2004, 05:28 AM

10-31-2004, 06:17 AM
Thank you Smoelf and Yawgm0th for your helpful replies. Especially you Yawgm0th. I've been on and off the TT forums for almost a year now and everytime I've had an issue, your replies were among the first ones I see and they always had helpful information. I still have upstairs in my desk drawer a printout of your reply regarding a multi-partition WinXP installation with differing file systems process you suggested would be the best way to go. Cheers brother. You give me hope for the future of tech forums.

While waiting for replies, I've come across promising data recovery software from OnTrack called EasyRecovery Professional. Apparently, this company recovered 99% of the data from the HDDs of the Spaceshuttle Columbia. Far from shabby work.


I'll go ahead and read that thread you pointed out Yawgm0th as well as chase down a copy of this software from every computer software vendor I can find. I can only hope this software actually does what it claims to do so assuringly. I do have a question regarding your post though.

You said the process (of data recovery) might take awhile and I should limit my search to the important stuff first, like my homework. This may sound stupid but why exactly would the data recovery take a long time? Is it just because recovering 120+ Gigs of data is no small feat for any recovery program out there? Or did you mean it would take a while to figure out what to do, get the software, and then do it?

Maybe my questions will be answered when I read through your suggested thread. Regardless, thanks once again for your insight.

And in my defense, I'd just like to point out that in my original post I stated two things:

1) That the data lost was over 120 Gigabytes in quantity, all of which I consider important. Seeing as how a typical CD-R can contain 650 MB of data (and also seeing as how its not always possible to get exactly 650 MB of data onto a CD image about to be burned, but usually as close to 650 MB as one can get without exceeding it) I would have to burn over 189 (call it 190+) CDs in order to "just back up my important data." Yes I know CD-R's can be overburnt and et cetera, but anyway you slice it, that's a helluva lot of CDs. Knowing this was the primary reason I chose to do a HDD backup in the first place, not to mention the dynamic nature of data making CD-R backups less then adequate (add an MP3 here, change a filename there, and suddenly my 190+ CD backup is out of date.) Which brings me to the second thing:

2) The creation of a HDD backup was the reason all of my data was being kept on the harddrive that failed. Having the data there was the Step 1 in the 2 step process of backing up my data. Having the HDD fail and losing all the data I was in the process of backing up for the sole purpose of safeguarding against a rare HDD failure is, to put it bluntly, just really ****ty luck.

So yes, CD-Rs are really cheap but they don't suit my situation. And yes, I do realise the importance of backing up, which is why I was trying to do it when this happened and ruined my weekend.

And I didn't cry, like a baby or otherwise. I did come close though. :cackle:

If there are anymore ideas, please don't not post them. I'm continuing to look at all of my options. Thanks again repliers!

10-31-2004, 07:09 AM
Happy to help. :angel:
I've learned a lot from forums such as this, and I feel supporting them in any way possible is a good thing.

DVD backup or something such as a RAID array or just a ghosted copy of the partition would be more reasonable then CD-Rs, in this case. No matter what way you did it, it would be expensive, and most methods would be tedious. It's understandable that you don't have a backup of the entire drive, but I presonally tend to backup thins like homework or other very important files to CD-RWs. I know you may consider everything on the drive important, but I'd say certain things are irreplacable, while other are just important. Those types of files are what I would go for, personally.

Data recovery may take a long time because you may have to do it file by file, depending on how the program works. The programs I've used show you clusters and let you recovery file and/or folders that were onces there, but there may good programs that are able to recover things in easier ways than what I've seen. That program you found looks pretty good and very simple in its use by the description. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that you can recover everything. You aren't totally screwed.

To prevent future problems like this, I'd suggest you get a UPS and possibly another 160GB to run in a RAID 1 array, on top of backing up irreplacable files on CD-RW.

11-01-2004, 03:24 AM
Just to clarify Yawgm0th, what program exactly did you use that showed you clusters...etc.?

Also, when you used it, was it on an NTFS partition/drive? And how much did it cost?
Right now, I'm getting a whole list of possible program options (from that thread you refered me too as well as replies I've received on another forum) and have to pretty much wade through them all, filtering out the crap ones and choosing the best one for my situation with regard to price/file types recovered/and so on.

Oh, that's another point. Did the program you used have any special file type recovery restrictions? For example, let's say I wanted to recover a file with an extension of literally .xyz. Since not even operating systems recognize that file type and have to be manually configured in order to recognize and attribute it to a program that can run it, does the program you used have those limitations as well? Can it only recover well known and recognized file types? Can it "see" lost files with weird file types such as .xyz? Can it be configured to recover weird file types with weird extensions?

Didn't I type a lot of questions? :cackle:

11-01-2004, 07:06 AM
It was a while ago, and I can't remember what program it was. It was freeware, but it made file recovery vert tedious. It didn't show you file names, it showed you files and folders and what clusters they were located in.

You should try the program you were looking at before, or maybe this (http://www.theabsolute.net/sware/dskinv.html) (it's freeware).

11-02-2004, 12:46 PM
Beautiful. From the combined answers I've received from this and other forums, I seem to have found the program that's the right mix of file type restrictions, price, and simultaneous multiple file recovery.

The program I chose, just to keep you all abreast :cackle:, is GetDataBack at http://www.runtime.org/ Seems like a solid program with multiple simultaneous file recovery, no restriction on file types (in fact, it doesn't seem to care what you're trying to recover, just looks for the beginning and ending of a file and says "ok, I can recover this"), and costs half the price of OnTracks software. Sounds like an all-around sweet deal to me. And yes, props to Smoelf for suggesting it to me. :beerchug:

So I'm going to save up the cash, fight my MP3 addiction *hands shaking while typing* and post on the results when I get the software, a fourth harddrive and some time to try it all out. Thanks alot to everyone who responded.

P.S. Oh, is there a Newbie Guide out there to RAID arrays? Might as well learn something about data storage after all of this grief. Also, if anyone can throw me a link to a good and simple to use Ghost program, I'd appreciate that very much. Thanks thanks and more thanks to everyone!

11-02-2004, 08:35 PM
You know, you can probably get the drive replaced, assuming it's still under warranty...

For some more information on RAID, go here (http://www.acnc.com/raid.html). RAID 1 would probably be best, although RAID 5 is great if you can afford more drives. If your motherboard doesn't support onboard RAID, you would need a PCI card that did.

11-03-2004, 09:30 AM
See, now that's something interesting and might open up a whole new can of worms, albeit a small one.

I too thought about a possible warranty (I still have the bill for the HDD and I think the store said something about a 1 year warranty) and the possibility of getting it replaced.

But tell me. Is there anything wrong with the drive?

I mean, all I'm really worried about is getting my data back. The health of the drive itself hasn't really occured to me much. Granted, it said it was corrupted after a series of power failures, and "chkdsk F: /f /r /v" attributed approximately 20 gigs of space to the Bad Clusters File, but that was before I lost my data and the drive reset itself and showed as empty.

I know the golden rule of; Bad HDD sectors indicates a bad HDD, but is it possible the warnings were a fluke? I'm pretty sure if I were to plug my F: drive back into my rig and check its disk size in Windows, it would say the full capacity was available.(divided into used/un-used sections of course) In fact, I'll probably confirm that in a few hours as I plan to run the GetDataBack trial download on the drive and see just what it can recover.

So given all that has happened, if/when I get my data off of it and reformat the damn thing just to cleanse it, should I consider the drive bad and toss it/try to get a replacement? Or would it be safe to keep it and use it as intended? (after I make a permanent backup of the data on another drive of course)

Thanks for the URL to the RAID guide. Very informative.

11-03-2004, 11:40 AM
I'd probably just try to get the drive replaced if it had any failures. But download some checking utilities from the manufacturer to see if anything is actually wrong with it.

11-04-2004, 07:29 AM
Ok, I plugged in the F: Drive after having downloaded a number of Demo versions of data recovery programs and am testing them out on it now.

The F: Drive reads as being completely "empty" with no files or folders present on it. Regardless, the drive properties read as it having 25.2 GB of space used. I have to assume that this is the space that "chkdsk" attributed to the Bad Clusters File and isn't allowing me to use. With this, and my new knowledge about RAID in mind, I have a number of questions:

1. Is it somehow possible to make the "used space" on my F: drive (which I assume to be the space Windows attributed to the Bad Clusters File) no longer a part of the Bad Clusters File and available for my use? When this is over, I want to try using the drive to its fullest to test whether or not the drive really does have bad clusters, which will help me decide whether to continue using it or to seek a replacement. Unfortunately, money is an issue and I really can't afford to buy a second HDD (in addition to the one I intend to transfer the recovered data onto) to replace the F: drive unless its absolutely necessary.

2. I've never used HDD manufacturer utilities before. Will a manufacturer utility be able to tell if my HDD truly has bad clusters on it without needing Windows detection/access to them, making the above question irrelavent?

3. I'm concerned that even though I have my F: Drive attached as a slave to my C: drive, some random incident will write a file to the F: Drive and overwrite data yet to be saved. Is there any way I can tell my F: Drive to allow only reads and not writes? Or maybe a way to have Windows attribute my F: Drive to read-only access? This may be part paranoia, but since something like this happened to me I've learned never to take chances with my data ever again.

4. While wading through the demo versions of several data recovery programs, I've come to the conclusion that chkdsk did indeed rewrite the Master File Table (MFT) and that all the data I can recover will be without any structure whatsoever. The organized directory tree structure, the folder names and the file names of the files within the folders I had seem to be lost forever without the MFT that existed before the drive got reset by chkdsk. Is there any way I can recover previous MFTs and hopefully use it to provide MFT entries and folder/file names to any data recovery programs so I can retrieve an organized data recovery rather then just thousands of files of data with generic "Recovered File 001" names and no folder organizations? As it stands now I can get the majority of my data back, which I'm grateful for, but all of the files will have to be renamed and reorganized into hundreds of new folders - a process that would undoubtedly have me contemplating suicide. :knife:

5. My motherboard doesn't have onboard RAID capability and at this point, I can't even imagine finding the money to go out and buy one that does. However, I will have the 2 harddrives necessary to attempt a RAID 1 array soon enough. Is there a handy guide out there I can be referred to that explains how to set up a RAID 1 array on a computer that previously had no RAID capability? I'm especially interested in this PCI card that supposedly will manage my RAID configuration. Wonder how that would work...

Thanks in advance for your replies.
Wow, I'm such a needy S.O.B. aren't I? :cackle:

11-10-2004, 01:11 PM
Must have missed this, but I was wandering around this section and saw this...

2. They probably would. The major manufacturers should have some form of utility to go on a bootable floppy.

3. Don't think so, and I doubt it will be a major probelm. Writing to the drive just makes it harder, not impossible to recover files, but I don't see why it would randomly write to it.

4. My concern exactly. I'm not really sure if there is a way around this, and that's what I was referring to earlier.

5. When you think you're ready, just post a new thread. I can help you out there with more materials and advice based on your situation.

BTW, I'm having some less severe recovery problems of my own. Basically, the computer froze in the middle of saving a game on a FAT32 disk. If I had put the game on an NTFS partition like I generally do with games that have important files to write, this wouldn't be a problem. But now, I'm looking to recover the necessary files on a partition that is otherwise working normally. I'll post if I find out anything relevant to your situation.

11-10-2004, 01:48 PM
Good luck with that! This is why I always have 2 hard drives, they may not be on a RAID array, but i can still backup all my files.

11-10-2004, 02:37 PM
I managed to find the files with GetDataBack for FAT32, but the program doesn't let you recover without paying...

01-13-2005, 01:28 PM
Any luck recovering the file structure?

01-15-2005, 02:53 AM
Kind of... Back when I was still attempting to get everything recovered, I ended up discovering that my drive had bad sectors and I simply couldn't recover certain files off of the partition in question. It actually was an NTFS partition that had the files, and I think I ended up using GetBackData for NTFS, but maybe not. In any case, I couldn't get enough back so I basically gave up.