Got a computer that wouldn’t start. Owner says she got a power surge.
The owner desperately wants to recover some accounting data (and if possible email address book and some excel and word documents from my documents). Her 2 sons also ask about their mp3’s.
I say I’ll do my best.
At the office, I see windows xp won’t boot… not even safe mode. I boot bartPE, but viewing the HDD proves near impossible.
I run a chkdsk (hdd is NTFS, and just 20 GB in size), and it finds many bad sectors… it cleans thing up, but then crashes part-way through the process. I try it again, and it gets most of the way through, but seems to freeze just after verifying USN… after 30 minutes, I pull the plug.
I then try my usual trick of plugging the drive into an existing XP system (making sure its set as a slave drive), and boot up… but I get to just after the windows start screen (the one with the moving horizontal bar)… Ie the part where the screen goes black for 1 or 2 seconds… I wait for the logon screen, but the screen just stays blank. The corrupt drive makes seeking noises for a minute or two, then goes quiet.
I try the same thing with a different PC, but get the same result. It looks like a faulty drive attached to an XP system can actually stop XP from booting (even if it boots from a non-faulty drive!)
Using BartPE seems to be the best way to get at the drive.
I figure: its time I got some serious data recovery software. So I try out the 4 that seems to get the best reviews.
Of course, not being able to start XP is my first obstacle. But I install them and take a look anyway.
At first, I like r-studio and getdataback, as they have the option to make an image of the drive/partition, and then work from the image file (thus saving wear and tear on a failing drive).
Nucleus and stellar work directly on the drive, and I suspect are useful when you just want to restore a few files.
I jump back into BartPE, and try running these programs from “bart”.
- Getdataback complains about a missing DLL file… so I give up and try the next one.
- R-studio started creating an image file, but takes 10 second each time it hits a bad sector… so after 1 hour, and less than 1% of the drive imaged (and the drive gets hot and less reliable after 40 minutes), I decide to try the next one.
- Nucleus Kernel Fat and Ntfs : Insists on doing a very long scan of the drive… after 10 minutes and 1% of the drive scanned, I stop and try the next one.
- Stellar Phoenix Recovery Suite has a reasonably fast scan (it scanned the 20GB drive in just 15 minutes). After that I saved the scan info the disk on my own drive, then selected the files to restore (total of about 600Mb), and I managed to copy them to my drive in about 45 minutes… Not very fast, but good enough.
After all this, I decided I need to find something that can image a drive quickly, and that will run with bartPE. I’ll give ghost 8.2 a try, but not sure if it will work with ntfs (nor how fast it is when dealing with bad sectors).
But the important thing is I restored the important data (minus the mp3s… that could have taken many hours of heat-generating, drive-destroying work).
All up, quite time-consuming (and expensive), but the customer is very happy to get her data back.
I get the data back to her (she is very grateful) and give her various options on where to go from here.
She initially wants to buy a new box, but given that upgrading the existing system to a new HDD, some more ram, and a DVDRW, all costs about half of a new system (and I assure her that it will be fast enough for her needs), then she goes for the “upgrade”.
So I install the new parts, install windows xp, install antivir, winpatrol, spywareblaster, nero, run autoPatcher, do some additional tuning, and the “old” system is ready to go (and quite quick too).