Recovering Data from Damaged Disk

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by Guerri Stevens, Mar 13, 2008.

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  1. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    Two weeks ago I turned on my computer and it informed me that it was sorry for the inconvenience but Windows wouldn't start. I fooled around with various of the options it gave me, but the end result was the same: it wouldn't boot. My guess was a bad disk, which was confirmed by the technician I took it to. I will spare you the details of having a new disk installed which Windows XP refused to recognize, and the final decision to just get a new machine and get going again.

    I still have the old computer with the bad disk. I decided to boot from the Disk Director CD that I created and see what I could find out. The first thing I found out is that the check disk function appears not to be there, at least not where I expected to find it.

    I decided to Explore, and see whether it could find some files that I would like to recover. It can see the files, but I don't know whether the data is OK or not. There is an option to copy, but copy to what? The machine has the hard disk and the CD and that's it. DD doesn't show the CD on the tree of folders and files (nor did it show the external drive I plugged in).

    What are my options? I don't immediately see anything that will let me copy to a CD using DD itself.

    DD shows me 4 partitions: Primary partition C: NTFS; 7.8 meg of unallocated space; primary partition D: FAT 32; and another primary partition, NTFS, no drive letter, 1 gig, 98 meg free.

    About partition D: this held (or holds) files for recovery of the operating system. I never got around to making a recovery CD and Compaq/HP didn't supply one.

    One possibility for me would be to somehow assign a drive letter to that final partition and copy files to it. I don't know whether DD will let me copy files in that manner or not, and I don't know whether it is dangerous to do this in the first place.

    Assuming I can assign a drive letter to that partition and copy files: I have a CD for Windows 98 which, when started, will allow me several choices in addition to installing, one of which is command prompt with CD support. If it can recognize the partition and see the files, perhaps I can copy them to a CD.

    Now, there is probably no data that I can't live without. I would like my calendar, my Quicken data files, my bookmarks and address book, and a few other things, but I do have a recent backup from before the crash and could, eventually, reconstruct whatever I did since the backup. The question arises: is it worth my time to fool with this? If it will work, possibly yes, and it probably wouldn't take long.

    Are there any other options? Such as will DD let me write to a CD? An external hard drive? A floppy? (I don't have one, but I could get one).

    I don't think either DD's Partition Recovery or Disk Editor will do anything for me.

    -- Guerri
     
  2. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    Ignore my previous message, at least for now. I found out that if I attach my external hard drive before booting to the Disk Director CD, DD will see the external drive. Presumably I will then be able to copy files to it.
     
  3. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    I am enroute to capturing data from the machine with the damaged disk drive. I have not yet verified all the files I've copied, and I have some more copying to do.

    My question now is what to do when I have retrieved everything I want. The User's Guide information on the Recovery Expert says it can recover partitions accidentally deleted or damaged. But then it goes on to describe recovering deleted partitions. Can it repair damage? I guess I should just try it and see.

    I already know that at least some of the data is fine. My gut feeling is that once I retrieve what I want I should just reformat the whole thing and install something other than Windows. However, if DD can repair damage, it might be worth a try.

    -- Guerri (talking to herself)
     
  4. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Guerri,

    Others are listening...

    DD isn't really designed for data recovery and the "copy" functions are probably limited.

    The Partition Recovery is designed to recover partitions that were accidentally deleted, not to recover files from a corrupt drive. There are other software programs specifically designed for that.

    Do you have a BartPE or VistaPE CD that you could boot to and try and copy the files to your external?

    Another option would be to connect the drive to another Windows XP (or later) computer and try to copy the files off.

    DD uses the Windows chkdsk program so you can't run it from the DD CD, only from inside Windows.

    Once you have all the files you want copied off, you can use DD to clear the drive and repartition it as you want. Make sure to run the chkdsk /r program on each partition you create.

    However, if the drive is in a bad state with bad sectors appearing frequently, I would recommend you don't use the drive as it won't be reliable. Also, if the MBR or other vital portions of the drive are corrupted, it won't be useable.
     
  5. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    Actually the copy function of DD is fine or I should say was fine for me. I found that the easiest way to copy was to copy whole folders rather than individual files. Faster because you can point at a folder, right click, and choose copy, then point at the receiving folder (or drive), right click and paste. The other thing about copying this way is that when the files arrive at the target location they have their original dates. Copying individual files causes them to have the current date in the receiving location; of course, copying folder-by-folder causes the folders to have the current date.

    Although I have checked only a few of the files that I recovered, I suspect they will all turn out to be OK. I don't have either BartPE or VistaPE; what would they do for me beyond what I've been able to do with DD?

    How would I connect the drive to another computer? I probably don't care now, but I would like to know for the future.
    I think what you're trying to tell me here is that DD doesn't have the ability to fix or isolate damaged areas of the disk and/or recreate whatever NTFS uses to determine what's where. I may give it a whirl just in case, but even if it can repair the partition, Windows probably still won't boot if one or more of its critical files is missing.
    OK, let's say I use DD to clear and repartition the drive. I would not be able to boot from it and I have no CD from which to install Windows XP Pro (which is what it was running). So I would have no way to use CHKDSK. I suppose I could install DOS - I do have PC DOS 2000 and PC DOS 7.

    My thinking is that the drive is not totally good. I don't know how bad it is, and I suppose it might make sense to find out and fix it up before getting a new drive. On the other hand, one never knows whether what appears to be a small problem is really just that or an indication that things are not as they should be and other "small" problems may occur, and occur, and occur and one would be better off with a new disk after all.

    I am considering forgetting about Windows entirely. I don't particularly like Vista, which I have on my newer machine, but I understand that the life of XP Pro is limited. Even if I bought it, there's a chance that it would not have all the drivers necessary to run the machine. So my plan would be to reformat, then get some version of Linux.
     
  6. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    If this worked well for you, there's nothing wrong with doing it that way.

    They are pre-installation environments of XP and Vista. You can open multiple windows and programs. You can open two Explorer-type windows, for example, and cut & paste files & folders just like in Windows.

    The drive would have to be removed from the current computer and installed in another computer that has an available port or cable connection. The drive interface (IDE or SATA) will need to be supported in the other computer. If you're not comfortable working inside your computer, you could have a computer repair shop do this for you.

    Correct.

    This is another case where BartPE or VistaPE helps. You can run chkdsk from either of those.

    You might check the drive manufacturer's website for a diagnostic program (most have them). Download it and run it on the drive. It should be able to tell you if the drive is bad or not.
     
  7. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    That's a good idea. I'll see what I can find out. Thanks for your help!
     
  8. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    I checked the manufacturer's website (Seagate). There is a tool called Seaviews. There's a version for DOS and one for Windows. Although I didn't spend a lot of time investigating, it seemed that the names implied that the tool would expect to be running under one of those operating systems, and the disk that I want to analyze is one that will not boot.

    So, about the BartPE and VistaPE that you mentioned: are they bootable? Where can they be obtained?
     
  9. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Seagate's SeaTools can be found here (probaby what you found). You can create the boot CD for the DOS version on another computer and then boot the CD to test the hard drive. The DOS version used to be an ISO file (I assume it still is). You'd just need to burn the ISO file to a CD using Nero or another ISO capable program.

    To use the Windows version, you'd have to install the drive into another Windows computer, install the software and run the tests.

    -------------

    Information on BartPE and VistaPE can be found from these links.

    However, the diagnostic programs provided by Seagate will test the drive much better than running a chkdsk on it.
     
  10. Guerri Stevens

    Guerri Stevens Registered Member

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    What is the meaning of ISO? I have seen the term elsewhere, but my only memory of that acronym is International Standards Organization, which I suppose it could be. I will see if I've got anything to burn an ISO CD. The DOS version is probably what I'd want; I don't have another computer into which I can put the drive.
     
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