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How can I recover lost files?


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#1
jluke

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Hello, I'm hoping that some of you tech smart people can help me find my photos.

They were all on my internal hard drive - 76 Gigs of photos - and now I can't see any of them. When I click on the drive there's a message that says "This drive is not formatted - Would you like to format it now?"

I know there is stuff on that drive. What should I do?

Thanks so much for any advice!

J.
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#2
Samm

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Hi Jeff
I've already sent you an email about this problem although I didn't know that windows thinks the drive isn't formatted.

If you reply to the email I sent, then post the reply in this thread also, that way other people will know whats going on as well & may be able to help.
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#3
jluke

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Hi - thanks to anyone who can suggest a way to find my data. I know it's there, mostly photographs. For some reason all I can see under My Computer is "Local Disk (D:) No files are visible and the last time I used that (D:) drive - the other day - there were 76 Gigs on there.

Here's what it looks like now. I JUST made this screenshot:

drive_specs.jpg

I think that the file system is probably NTFS because FAT32 is only listed next to my (C:) drive.

Under "My Computer>Local Disk (D:)> Properties it shows 0 bytes of used space, 0 bytes of free space.

Scan disk doesn't seem to be able to do anything - so no summary of that process. I'm not sure if I'm running scandisk properly thought. I've tried the one under "Tools>Error-checking." Is that right?

The drive in question is a Maxtor 6Y080P0 (those are zeros, not the letter "O") It's an 80 Gig 3.5-Inch ATA / EIDE drive. I'm not sure about the motherboard specs or model #. I have a Dell Dimension 4100 desktop. If anyone needs them, just tell me where to looks - thanks.

5.) I did open up the computer to make sure the connecting plugs were inserted all the way. Last night I brought the drive to a friend's house, he connected it to his Windows XP computer and it immediately detected a problem with the hard drive. So I know that my computer is functioning properly as was my friends'.

I didn't change the bios.

I hope this is enough info to be useful in piecing this together. Please let me know if there is anything I could do on my end to help diagnosis this.

Thanks,

Jeff
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#4
admin

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Last night I brought the drive to a friend's house, he connected it to his Windows XP computer and it immediately detected a problem with the hard drive.

What's the problem that was detected?
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#5
jluke

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The problem that was detected was a warning immediately after the computer booted up that said their was damage to the disk.

It came on in that black screen with the white type, and you have to click one key to bypass that screen. I'm sure you know what it's called. Anyway, I just recall that it must have noticed that there was something wrong with that drive as soon as it booted up.

Jeff
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#6
Samm

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IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP ANYONE HERE WHO'S INTERESTED UP-TO-DATE ON PROGRESS, I AM POSTING THE EMAIL CORRESPONDANCE.

THIS WAS SENT BY MYSELF TO JEFF IN RESPONSE THE HIS SECOND POST.

It is almost certainly the case that the MBR (partition table) has been damaged.

If your pictures etc on this drive are extremely important, then your best bet may be to send the drive to a data recovery specialist. This will of course cost you.
If you wish to try & recover the drive yourself, the I suggest you do the following :

1. I've sent you 2 programs. The first one - mbrtool - allows you to backup/restore the MBR. This won't recover the MBR on the D drive but if you use it to backup the MBR on D, then if the second stage makes matters worse at least you can restore it to its current state.

Unzip mbrtool.zip to a new folder on the C drive. Double click on mbrtool.exe to run. It opens a menu in DOS window. Select option 4, then option 1 to backup MBR.
When asked which drive to backup, enter 0 to backup the MBR of your C drive (just in case!). Repeat & enter 1 to backup the second drive. Both files will be stored in the folder that mbrtool.exe resides in. Make sure you know which backup file relates to which drive!

2. Next, unzip the testdisk program. This is one of the only freeware programs that can recover partition tables using either FAT32 or NTFS. When you unzip it, there will be a folder named DOC. Read the relevant information on how to use testdisk before trying it.


Obviously, I can't guarantee that this will work but it's probably your best shot.
Let me know if you have any questions & let me know how it goes!

Samm
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#7
Samm

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EMAIL FROM JEFF TO MYSELF :

Hi Samm,

Thank you for taking the time to give such a clear explanation of what needs to be done : )

I think I can follow your directions but there's one possible hitch. My "C" drive is almost full. It has about 1 Gig of free space, while my (D:) drive has about 76 Gigs. So if I back things up I'll run out of room.

I just bought an external hard drive today to back up future photos. It's a USB drive. Should I use that to backup/restore the MBR on D and on the C drive?

Again, thanks. How did you learn all of this detail about hardware? It's impressive.

Jeff
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#8
Samm

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EMAIL FOR ME TO JEFF :

The MBR backup is 2KB in size! I don't think space is an issue for this backup. However, if you wish to store it on the USB drive, then thats fine BUT do the mbr backup without the usb connected. Save the backup file to C (I don't think it gives you a choice in this anyhow) then create a copy of it to store on the USB afterwards.

It's never advisable to let any hard drive, especially the boot drive, get that full.
You could probably free up space very quickly just by emptying the temp folder, the temporary internet files folder. This last one alone often accounts for a few hundred megabyte of used space. Defragging will help also but too long winded right now. When the d drive problem has been resolved, I would recommend you back up everything to the USB drive, as you suggested, & unless you have software installed that you cannot replace etc, then you may want to just do a fresh install altogether. But worry about that later.

I assume you haven't carried out the backup & run testdisk yet? Thats good if you haven't as I meant to mention 1 or 2 other things first.

1. Understand that with a problem such as this, the more things that you try to fix the drive with, the less chance you have of recovering it. This is because most methods will change the drive in some way & if that change doesn't correct the problem then you still have the original problem plus potentially one you've just created. ie you want to aim at only trying methods that have a good chance of success. The more we know about the fault, the more chance we have of selecting the correct method!


2. In view of point (1), I would like you to do the following for me. (disconnect usb drive first to avoid any confusion). Use these instructions to replace my previous ones for running mbrtool.exe. I missed out a minor step previously & I don't want to cause confusion!

Run mbrtool.exe
Select option 4
Select option 5 - dump to plain text file
Enter 1 for disk number
Enter O for source type (thats letter O not zero!)
When thats done (takes about 1/8 second), Switch back to the mbrtool main menu (press esc key to go back a level) & select option 5 - work with track 0
Select option 5 - dump to text
Enter the same arguments as before for the disk ID & source

When thats done, leave the mbrtool window open/minimised & use My Computer to locate the text files. They will be in the folder that mbrtool.exe is in, and it will be named mbrtool.dmp & track0.xxx (xxx will be a digit number)
Rename mbrtool.dmp to dsk1mbr.txt
Rename track0.xxx to dsk1tk0.txt

Send me the MBR dump & track0 dump as attachments ASAP. I will have a read through them before you run testdisk as they should give me a clearer idea as to what has happened.

While you have mbrtool open, you may want to do the backup now .
Select option 4 - work with mbr
select backup (option 1)
enter 0 for source disk
enter F to select File
enter the name dsk0mbr (The file extension is added automatically)
When done, press ESC to go back to the 12 option menu & repeat the process but enter 1 for source disk & give the name dsk1mbr.

Next, go back to first level menu, select option 5 - track0.
select option 1 for save
enter 0 for source disk
enter dsk0tk0 for target name
Next, repeat this for disk 1, enter 1 for source disk & dsk1tk0 for the target name.

Exit MBRTOOL.


3. Thought I'd better mention now before I forget again, when you do come to run testdisk, close everything else thats running in the background including antivirus software etc. If you have a permanently live internet connection, then physically disconnect that as well.

Let me have those 2 files as soon as poss.

Cheers

Samm

PS My knowledge of hardware etc comes from about : 10% - 4 year BSc(HONS) Computing Degree, 70% - repairing computers for the last 6 years, and 20% - reading reference manuals!
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#9
audioboy

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Hey samm, here is a great tool that will help free up some space on his system. it cleans out all the internet cache, temp files, cookies, etc, including many hidden things.
its called Cleanup!

http://www.spywareai...owsoftware&id=1

found this in the malware forums.
now back to your tech support, already in progress...
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#10
Samm

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Thanks for that Audioboy, I'll send the link on to him.

Jeffs decided he's going to wait for a few weeks before fixing the drive because he's getting a new system then & wants to be sure he has a fully functional computer as a fall back, just in case!

I've told him to leave the second drive in the case but disconnect the cabling from it in the meantime so that no more damage is inadvertently caused to it. Hopefully, he will let us know how it goes when the time comes!
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