Ways To Recover Your Data
The purpose of this guide is to teach you how to recover your data from your hard drive if it becomes inaccessible. If your situation is just a case of receiving an Access Denied error - proceed to Step 6.
CAVEAT: This presumes that the disk can be accessed by the computer. Truly dead hard drives won't be able to be read, while dying hard drives may read sporadically.
Another CAVEAT: If the drive has been erased you'll likely have to start at Item 7 in this list. Each time that the drive is accessed (after the erasure) decreases the chance that you'll be able to recovery your data - so don't even turn on the computer unless you're attempting to recover the data!
Still Another CAVEAT: If the drive is dying, each use of it will make data recovery less likely - and eventually the drive will die to the point where you can't recover the data. As above, Don't use the computer unless you're trying to recover data!
You'll need to identify your drive in order to take some of the steps, so here's a short "thing" on how to do this:
---- IDE/EIDE/PATA...The drive will have a bunch of pins (about 80) on the end that plugs into a wide, flat cable. The power connector is generally a standard 4 pin Molex connector.
---- SATA...A SATA drive has a slim cable that connects it to the motherboard with a flat connector that has a lip on one end - the power connector is similar but about 2 times as wide.
---- Desktop...Generally 3.5" wide and about 3/4" thick
---- Laptop...Generally 2.5" wide and about 1/4" thick
DRIVE INFORMATION - easiest to get from inside of the case, but some of these free tools will give you the info that you need:
1) Typed into the Run dialog of Windows
2) Free programs
----http://www.gtopala.com/index.html (no installation, just download and run)
----http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/index.html?dir...n=sware_dl_3264 (requires installation)
- Tool links are embedded in the body of this guide.
- Slave the hard drive. This involves opening up your system, removing the hard drive - then opening up another system and putting the hard drive in it. Before doing this you'll have to know:
- What kind of hard drive interface you have and what size it is (see Drive Identification above).
- Is there room in the other computer to put your hard drive in.
- And, if it's an IDE drive, you may have to switch the jumpers around for it to be recognized. So you'll have to check the jumpers on your drive and on the other computer to make sure that they don't conflict.
- If both are on CS (Cable Select), then you're good to go.
- If the other computer's hard drive is set to Master, then you'll have to set yours to Slave and ensure that you connect your drive to the middle connector of the flat ribbon cable (the same one that the hard drive is connected to)
- Drive caddy. To do this you'll have to purchase/borrow a drive enclosure (aka a drive caddy). The cost varies depending on where you purchase it - but it should be less than $50. Before starting you'll need to know:
- If your drive is IDE/EIDE or SATA (see 1a above for a description of how to determine this) and if it's 2.5" or 3.5" wide
- How the drive enclosure plugs into the other computer (usually USB, but I have seen some firewire only models)
- Does the other computer have available USB ports (some drives will have more than one USB plug and must be plugged into the motherboard (not into a USB hub)
- Live Linux distro that supports your hardware. These are mostly available for free and can access FAT32 and NTFS volumes (the most common file systems for Windows). Haven't used them myself, but here's a link to a list of them:
http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php I am unsure about USB Plug and Play support in Linux.
- Windows PE/Bart PE/UBCD
- Windows PE...free here (part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK):
- Bart PE...free here: http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/
- Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD)...free here: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
CAVEAT: Most USB devices will have to be plugged in before booting - or the PE mode won't recognize it
- DOS boot disks with NTFS reader and CD-ROM support
- DOS boot disks with CD-ROM support: http://www.bootdisk.com/
- NTFS reader (if your disk is formatted NTFS - if it's FAT32 you don't need this): http://www.ntfs.com/products.htm
***WHAT IF THIS DOESN'T WORK?***
- Access denied errors (an NTFS feature).
Try this link to take ownership: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/42756/how-to-fix-an-access-denied-errors/
- Freeware data recovery tools
The best (IMO) is PCInspector - but it is very confusing to use. Others can be found at these links:
- PayFor tools
My favorite is GetDataBack from http://www.runtime.org
Others can be found with this Google search:
- Professional recovery services
I don't have any first hand experience with these, but I suspect that your local PC shop can help you out. Unfortunately, these services tend to be very expensive ($250 to $1600 depending on the difficulty). If there's no local support for this, then I'd suggest http://www.runtime.org as the place to start looking.
This involves copying the data from the old hard drive to the new location.
- If the drive is still good to use - try creating a small partition on it (in the free space) to hold the data - then copy as if it were another hard drive (follows).
- If it's another hard drive, just use Windows Explorer to copy from one to the other. If using Windows Vista, I'd suggest using TeraCopy (free here: http://www.codesector.com/teracopy.asp) to speed up the process.
- If it's a flash drive, then you'll have to be sure that you've got enough room on it. Otherwise you'll be making multiple trips to another computer to swap the contents so that you can fit more on it the next time (and don't forget that you may have to reboot after each trip).
- If it's removable media such as DVD's, CD's, or even floppy disks, you'll need to figure out how to fit all of the data on the media. In most cases you'll have more stuff to copy than you will have room on a single piece of media - so a plan (on a piece of paper) will simplify keeping track of what's been copied and what hasn't.