Recovering lost files

There’s an article at that gives a good overview of using testdisk and PhotoRec. Testdisk should be able to recover at the partition level and PhotoRec should be able to just pull the files out of a damaged partition. Truth is Hard drives fail in a number of different ways and some of those can give the same error messages. Not too long ago my brother had a laptop hard drive failure, it gave a “no partition found” kind of error message. We talked about a utility such as ghost4linux (g4l) which includes dd_rescue which does a remarkable job with failing disks.

However, I was out of town at the time and by the time I was back he had sent it to a data recovery company. It turns out that it was just as well, the read write head had actually fallen off. He said occasionally it would boot and the drive geometry was visible and correct, but realistically there was no way that data could have been recovered short of rebuilding the drive, which is what the data recovery company did.

Anyway, a week or so back, I had a call from a customer that had a similar problem. The laptop wouldn’t boot suddenly. They had already bought a replacement laptop by the time they called me, but they needed the information off the drive, it had not been recently backed up. I booted up the laptop and saw the “partition not found” or “no partition found” (at this point I don’t recall the exact wording.) I loaded the bios configuration and saw the drive was detected and thought this was a good sign. I took the laptop with me and got to work.

I first removed the drive and plugged it into an external adapter. Controller failure was my first suspicion. So, I plugged the usb adapter into my desktop and it saw /dev/sda show up, but no partitions found (no /dev/sda1)… hmmmm. Ok, this reinforces the no partition found message. So, I start looking around for software that can fix a partition table. gpart and the above mentioned testdisk come to the top of my search. I used gpart, at first very cautiously…. From the description of the software it can guess partition information from the data on the disk in the even you’re partition table is either missing or damaged. In this case, it found one 76GB NTFS partition which was the one I was hoping to see.

The fact that gpart saw this confirmed that the disk was likely ok, we just had a damaged partition table. After doing a test run where gpart reads the information and doesn’t write it, I got up the nerve to write the partition table back to the disk. After this, my desktop saw not only /dev/sda but /dev/sda1 as well and I was able to mount and browse the partition. All the files seemed intact.

I then went about cloning the disc with g4l (ghost4linux) running in dd_rescue mode (just in case). It turns out there were no read problems during the entire process. The only background I have as to what preceeded this “failure” was that they were in process of changing firewall exceptions for a specific program. It’s not clear if Windows crashed during this changing of settings, or if the reboot was merely required to complete the process. When they attempted to reboot, that’s when things failed to come back up.

One thing that you might take away from this, is that although it may seem that you’re data is gone/unreachable….. doesn’t mean that it really is. If you’re getting rid of a machine (even one that’s drive seems to have died). It’s worth trying to be REALLY sure and using something like DBAN (Dariks’ Boot and Nuke) which I’ve referred to several times.

Related Posts

Blog Traffic Exchange Related Posts
  • Remote Tech Support with x11vnc and wrapper script So, the idea is that I wanted something "like" the Ultranvnc Single Click download, only for linux. The main idea being is that if someone is looking for a bit of desktop tech support on linux, we don't need to be giving instructions for 5 different package managers, or source......
  • Crossroads At this point, I doubt anyone is seeing this as the wordpress test install is not live to the public yet, but... I'm opening this one up for comments. On the old site, I had accumulated a bit of content along the lines of windows/linux tips, software recommendations and tech......
  • The security of remote tech support (ultravnc sc or x11vnc with wrapper script) Well, I've got a nice way of doing "easy" one click (or one cut and paste) light desktop support for windows or linux, one uses ultravnc sc, the other uses x11vnc with a special wrapper script. So, what security flaws are there in this process? Well, for starters, I see......
Blog Traffic Exchange Related Websites
  • FREE Backup Software Free FBackup Software Review Backup Your PC Local, Network and USB Whether or not you are an internet marketer you need a way to offload your critical data in order to protect yourself against catastrophic system failure and resulting data loss. While a local backup solution will not protect you......
  • Tech Support - Funny Video Series While surfing through Youtube, I stumbled across this fun-filled tech support video series. All of the videos are sure to give you good amount of chuckle. I liked all of them, but first one is my favorite. Surely a stress buster after a bad day in office :) Enjoy! Tech......
  • Finding the Beginner Triathlon Right for You As more people discover the triathlon, there is more pressure to create easier competitions. One of the events which are becoming more common is the beginner triathlon. Quite often this is an event which is held at the same time as other more intense races. This creates unique opportunities which......    Send article as PDF   

Similar Posts

See what happened this day in history from either BBC Wikipedia
Amazon Logo

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site