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I lost my kids pictures suspended External hard drive

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So I had a virus. It was horrible I finally got rid of it by running my system restore disks and staring over.
I have an external hard drive where I keep all of my music, movies and digital photos. I can do without the music and movies though it it a punch in the gut. I am now missing a little over 3500 songs, and 40-50 movies but that I can live with. I also had 5 years worth of digital pictures all my family pictures wedding pictures and baby pictures of three children. Needless to say I have to find a way to at least get my pictures back.

When I ran the system restore disks the first time I had left my external hard drive on. The disk ran for only 5-10 seconds before i realized it and turned it off. The process did get rid of my problem on the internal hard drive. But for the few seconds that the external drive was on, The disk managed to suspend my drive.
When I try to access it from explorer or anywhere else for that matter, I get a screen that tells me the drive is not formatted. If I have it reformatt the drive It will permanently delete my files. At least that is what I am lead to belive. so I am stuck with 200 gigs of suspended files. I need help I have not been able to find software to recover my files. Any suggestions? :blink: :whistling:
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There are places which can recover the data, but it can be expensive. I think there is also some software which also can recover the files, but I am not familar with those programs. It was discussed a couple of weeks ago on Leo Laporte's radio show (www.kfi460am.com or http://www.leoville.tv/radio/, you could always call him on the weekend).

It is hard to say what happened during the time it was on. If it just wiped out the partition table, you can try repartitioning the disk, but I would not use the Windoze tools to do it since those want to create the filesystem too. You can download a Linux Live CD, such as Knoppix or DSL OS, amoung others. Using the disk partition program (fdisk, sfdisk, qtparted or another) to create the partition and set the partition type to what it used to be. Was it FAT32 (b or c (LBA)) or NTFS (7)?

Once the partition is created, you can try accessing it from Linux (if the version that you use can read NTFS) or try using Windoze to check the filesystem (which is a bit more risk in my opinion). If you go this direction, I can give you more information or you might see if there is a Linux User's group in your area. The main reason for using Linux to do this is because it does not automatically do other things, like Windoze.

Yes, this sounds a bit more scary than it really is.
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The most important thing is not to write any data to that drive, and obviously don't format or partition it. The good news is that most likely your data is still there, and there are programs that can unformat and undelete files. The good ones are expensive. Since these files are so valuable to you, I recommend you seek out a local professional to help you. I'd hate for you to lose the files while trying to recover them.
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