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Need Help Recovering Files From Hard Drive


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#1 robertteta

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 05:30 PM

I need help with recovering files from a hard drive with Windows 98 as the OS. This computer was my mom's old one. I moved the "My Documents" folder to a new computer for her by using the cut and paste method to a USB flash drive. I then moved the contents from the flash drive onto a new computer with Windows Vista. I deleted the files from the flash drive to let her use it for other purposes. So far so good. Then this:

1. The new computer had a problem with the power hardware and was sent back to the factory for repair.
2. Received the computer back with a reformatted hard drive (data not there).
3. Mom did not want to deal with Vista, so I swapped her computer with a new one that runs Windows XP.
4. The missing files contain medical history and vital pictures.
5. I live about 400 miles from my mom, so this is being worked on long distance.
6. She lives in a small town with very limited computer service support.

Here is my question. What is the best process to recover these files? I have the original hard drive here with me. I have Windows XP and Vista available on the computers at my house. I can also have the USB flash drive sent, but it would have to come via mail or UPS. Is there an issue with slaving a Windows 98 formatted drive to a Windows XP or Vista machine? Or should I take the extra time to have her send the flash drive and try to recover the files from it? And are there any special precautions to take when shipping a flash drive?

Sorry if I put this in the wrong forum area. Thanks.

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#2 usasma

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 06:04 PM

First and foremost - don't do anything to any of the drives until you're ready to recover the data. Each and every access gives a greater risk of losing the data.

The original hard drive - does it still have the original files on it? If so, the best bet is to slave this drive to another system and transfer the files from it. You can either attach it to a free space on one of the cables on your current computer (with the proper jumper settings) - or you can get a drive enclosure to put it in and hook it up to a USB port on your system. Then it's just a matter of copying the files to your computer (and backing them up just-in-case to a CD).

Recovering deleted files is another story - and they're even more sensitive to the "more it's used, the more likely that the data is gone" theory. It takes special software and techniques - although there is some freeware than can recover some stuff for you.
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#3 robertteta

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 06:44 PM

I have looked for the files on the original hard drive. I used cut and paste to move them from the My Documents folder to the USB flash drive. Once they were copied, the file names are no longer showing in the My Documents folder. Is this the same as deleting the files? The original drive has not been used other than to search for the files. The USB flash drive has also not been used since.

Thanks.

#4 usasma

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 09:05 PM

It sounds like they've been erased. Don't access the drive unless you're actually working to recover the files.

Here's 2 tools that "may" be able to do the job:
http://www.pcinspector.de - free, but a bit difficult to use
http://www.runtime.org - expensive, but has a free tool to let you know if anything is recoverable before you pay.
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#5 komski

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 04:44 AM

I moved the "My Documents" folder to a new computer for her by using the cut and paste method

This effectively deletes rather than erases the data and if that is the case and nothing has overwritten the data it should be straightforward to do a DIY recovery.

Would suggest slaving the drive (just dont try booting to it or writing anything to it) and then go with the suggested runtime.org's GetDataBack for FAT. Certainly cost you nothing to see if you can locate the files and the last time I used it you could recover the files for free as long as you recovered them one by one by opening them in the application that created them. You can also open just about all files one by one with an application like TinyHexer and then save them back to the hard drive.

There is a wide range of recovery software that should not have any major problems with simply deleted data but GDB has a very good track record.

#6 robertteta

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 09:39 AM

I will get a USB enclosure today and slave the drive to my other pc, then attempt a recovery with one of these utilities. I will post back with the results. Thanks for the help.




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