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HELP! - Wrote an Image onto External Hard Drive


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#1 rdallas

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 02:30 PM

Hi,

I was trying to write an android image using Win32DiskImager onto my microsd card, but I accidentally chose my full 2TB external hard drive instead.

I am terrified I've lost everything. My whole life/history/past is on that drive.

I used Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions and I can see...

- boot G: (android files)
- 3.30 GB - Healthy partition
- 1859 Health Drive, but then I went and clicked something and made the drive active.

now the 159 "partition" drive shows up in My Computer, but when I try to click on it, it says the drive needs to be formated.

PLEASE HELP!

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#2 James Litten

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:46 PM

Hi

That is pretty serious. I have used Win32DiskImager for writing SD cards for Android devices before so I'll take a look at ones I have created to see if I can determine how destructive it is outside of the initial boot and storage partitions. The first two partitions, however have probably overwritten at least some of the data on the drive.

Steps I would take if you brought this to me.

I would get two more new 2TB or larger drives (preferably 2.5TB or 3TB) and create an image (a clone would be fine too but I prefer an image) of the original drive on one of them by booting into a Linux LiveCD and using ddrescue (dd is fine if the drive is in good shape but ddrescue prevents any nasty surprises that may crash it make you start all over) and then only work on the copy, setting the original drive on a shelf in case I need to image/clone it again.

If the disk is healthy, it would probably take at least a day to create the image this way but the result would be an exact bit by bit copy of the drive. Then I would probably start with free tools like Recuva or TestDisk then move on to paid tools (I often use Restorer Ultimate but there are others that are similar and about the same price). If that does not work, I'd try Photorec to search for specific types like pictures or documents but the results will not have proper filenames and you'll have to examine and rename them all Any data or filesystems recovered would be recovered to the third drive (that's why I would buy two new drives).

If you decide to go this way, I would be happy to help you with instructions for each step of the process.

Trying to work directly on the affected disk can very easily make things unrecoverable that may have been recovered.

James

#3 rdallas

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:21 PM

I'm using iCare disk recovery (i don't know if it going to do anything) but its scanning right now.

and it says there are 253XXX files found - is that a good sign that nothing got lost.

Thanks for the advise, I'm gonna go out tmrw and by a 3tb drive please send me instructions.
I;m so freaking terrified.

#4 James Litten

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

I'll put together some instructions for you later this evening. In the meantime, be sure not to write anything to that drive.

James

#5 rdallas

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:35 PM

i've removed it from my pc.

I'm using Windows 7 btw, i don't have a linux system anywhere.

thanks

#6 James Litten

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 10:12 PM

Let me start by giving you a bit of a summary of what I'd like for you to try to do.

We'll call the drive you want to recover the 'bad drive' (even though it's not really bad) and the drive we are making the copy on the 'good drive'


1 First we will make a bootable LiveCD or USB key (your choice) of PartedMagic which is a free Linux system that has current versions of some great open source tools preinstalled for fixing and recovering data from disk drives.

2 Hook up the good drive and the bad drive to the computer and boot it into PartedMagic.

3 Then we'll run a simple command that will tell us what the names of the good disk and the bad disk are.

4 Next we will click some buttons that will mount the internal drive of the computer (where Windows 7 is installed) so we can save a small log file to it that will keep track of the copy job and will allow us to resume it from where it left off instead of restarting it if it is interrupted at some point.

5 Then we will run another simple command that starts the copying process. This could take 20+ hours to run. Be aware of this and try not to use the computer for other stuff while it does this.

6 Now we'll have a perfect copy of the bad disk and will be able to attempt recoveries or repairs without the risk of losing everything for good if we make a mistake or something goes wrong.

 

Now, do you want to make an image or a clone?
Here is the difference...

A clone would erase everything currently on the new drive and attempt to make it look just like the bad drive.

An image is just a huge file containing every bit of the bad drive. We can use special software to mount the image so it looks just like another drive even though it is kind of a virtual hard drive and almost all recovery tools work with images the same way they do with real drives. This is usually for when you want to recover a few files from the image and then delete it.

 

You can make the PartedMagic CD and try out the command that we are going to use to find the names of the drives to make sure that you can boot with and use it.

Download the PartedMagic ISO for your computer (you probably need the one labeled "Most people will only need this file") ask me if you aren't sure.
http://partedmagic.com/doku.php?id=downloads

Decide whether you want to boot from a CD or a USB Flash Drive and follow the appropriate directions below.

Instructions for making a Boot CD
Download and install Infrarecorder
http://infrarecorder.org/?page_id=5
and place a blank CD in your CD writer then run Infrarecorder
Click WRITE IMAGE
Navigate to the PartedMagic ISO that you downloaded and click the OPEN button
Click the OK button and it should burn your CD. When it is done it will automatically eject the CD and you can close Infrarecorder, you can now use this CD to boot your computer.

Instructions for making a Bootable USB Flash Drive
Follow the instructions here for UNetbootin (the download buttons for UNetbootin are at the top of the page) and select DISK IMAGE and navigate to the PartedMagic ISO that you downloaded. Pay very close attention to the USB flash drive that you select to write to in order not to overwrite data on the wrong device by accident.

Instructions Booting From The CD or The USB Flash Drive
Press the F12 key or sometimes the Esc key when you turn the computer on in order to choose the boot device containing PartedMagic.

When you boot the computer that has the bad drive connected to it with the PartedMagic CD/USB that you made a menu will pop up, please select
1. Default Settings (Runs from RAM)

When it finishes booting you will notice that it looks kind of like a Windows desktop. The button in the lower left works like the START button in Windows XP and allows you to select and run various programs or shutdown the computer. To make things easy, I'll just refer to this as the START button.

At the bottom of the screen near the START button you will see a picture of a computer monitor. Click it to open a terminal window. In the terminal window type
fdisk -l
(that is fdisk SPACE DASH l as in Linux) and press ENTER

This tells us the names and partitions of the drives connected to the computer.
 

When you get the new disk let me know...
  • Do you want to make a clone or an image (I personally would prefer a clone in your situation)?
  • Are you able to boot into PartedMagic?

Then I can tell you what to do next.

James

#7 rdallas

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 09:54 PM

Hi,

so I managed to get a 3TB Western Digital Hard Drive.

I went to BestBuy's GeekSquad today, and the guy said the partition with the files are "RAW" meaning the drive has lost its system structure, and that if the files were to be recovered, they would all show up as 0s and 1s.

  • is this true
  • if its true, i still want to recover the files, and is it still possible given the state of the drive's RAW format?

Secondly, I've been reading this http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/281213-32-recovering-files about recovering files from a RAW partition, the situation seems to be very similar to mine, the individiual knows theres files on the drive, but can't access them.

will this program do what I need it to? http://www.piriform.com/recuva

thirdly could i use these recovery softwares before what your suggesting, to see if i can at least recover files?

fourthly, the reason why I ask about the recovery is because I don't understand why we're cloning the drive? if after we clone it, the problem drive will be formatted (from my understanding)

THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!

Edited by rdallas, 07 November 2012 - 10:04 PM.


#8 James Litten

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:04 PM

hi i have been hit with another horrible storm for the second week in a row and these one tore away power internet and other things :(
i will be gone for a few days at least
sorry. posting from a rigged setup so hope this works

#9 rdallas

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:53 PM

no problem. my hard drive is not going anywhere. keep safe and take care. thank you for your help its much appreciated.

#10 AustrAlien

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:55 PM

It seems that James will be otherwise occupied for a little while, so if you wish I will continue with you in the direction that James was heading.

Firstly I will make comment on this:

I went to BestBuy's GeekSquad today, and the guy said the partition with the files are "RAW" meaning the drive has lost its system structure, and that if the files were to be recovered, they would all show up as 0s and 1s.

  • is this true
  • if its true, i still want to recover the files, and is it still possible given the state of the drive's RAW format?

If Windows cannot read the file system it reports it as "RAW", no matter what the situation actually is. There is the very real possibility of complete recovery, and if not complete then at least recovery of the contents of the drive.

... I don't understand why we're cloning the drive ...

The reason for cloning the hard drive to another is so that we can work on the cloned copy without risking the original hard drive. The first thing we want to try is to repair the drive using TestDisk if possible with the aim of returning it to its former working state with all files intact and readable.
  • If this works, well and good:
    • It will be the best of possible outcomes and we should attempt this as a first step.
  • If this does not work, then we have lost nothing but the time taken to make the clone.
    • You still have the original and can clone it again.
    • We may then need to use other recovery tools such as you are asking about.
Let me know if you have any further questions or problems, and if you would like to continue then proceed with James instructions to create a LIVE PartedMagic CD or flashdrive and provide the output of fdisk -l which you can copy and paste in a reply.
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#11 rdallas

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:19 AM

I'm ready, please let me know next steps. I've already created a USB key of PartedMagic.

I would like to clone the bad drive. I've purchased a 3TB HD

Edited by rdallas, 13 November 2012 - 01:30 AM.


#12 AustrAlien

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:30 AM

There's been no sign of James yet, so I presume he is still otherwise occupied. I suggest you create the bootable device as James previously wrote.

You can make the PartedMagic CD and try out the command that we are going to use to find the names of the drives to make sure that you can boot with and use it.

Download the PartedMagic ISO for your computer (you probably need the one labeled "Most people will only need this file") ask me if you aren't sure.
http://partedmagic.com/doku.php?id=downloads

Decide whether you want to boot from a CD or a USB Flash Drive and follow the appropriate directions below.

Instructions for making a Boot CD
Download and install Infrarecorder
http://infrarecorder.org/?page_id=5
and place a blank CD in your CD writer then run Infrarecorder
Click WRITE IMAGE
Navigate to the PartedMagic ISO that you downloaded and click the OPEN button
Click the OK button and it should burn your CD. When it is done it will automatically eject the CD and you can close Infrarecorder, you can now use this CD to boot your computer.

Instructions for making a Bootable USB Flash Drive
Follow the instructions here for UNetbootin (the download buttons for UNetbootin are at the top of the page) and select DISK IMAGE and navigate to the PartedMagic ISO that you downloaded. Pay very close attention to the USB flash drive that you select to write to in order not to overwrite data on the wrong device by accident.

Instructions Booting From The CD or The USB Flash Drive
Press the F12 key or sometimes the Esc key when you turn the computer on in order to choose the boot device containing PartedMagic.

When you boot the computer that has the bad drive connected to it with the PartedMagic CD/USB that you made a menu will pop up, please select
1. Default Settings (Runs from RAM)

When it finishes booting you will notice that it looks kind of like a Windows desktop. The button in the lower left works like the START button in Windows XP and allows you to select and run various programs or shutdown the computer. To make things easy, I'll just refer to this as the START button.

At the bottom of the screen near the START button you will see a picture of a computer monitor. Click it to open a terminal window. In the terminal window type
fdisk -l
(that is fdisk SPACE DASH l as in Linux) and press ENTER

This tells us the names and partitions of the drives connected to the computer.

You should be able to use Firefox in PartedMagic to connect to the internet, access the forums and post your reply.
Copy the output of fdisk -l in the terminal and paste it in your reply. Don't forget to have the problem drive (the source) and the drive you are going to clone to (the destination) connected at the time.

Edited by AustrAlien, 13 November 2012 - 01:31 AM.

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#13 James Litten

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:26 PM

Hi

I'm back :)
Sorry for the absence but it could not be helped.
Where are you at on this?

James

#14 online789

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 02:39 PM

James et al,

 

Thanks for this write up all. I am hoping after a year you guys are still monitoring this board.

 

I did the same thing as OP and need similar recovery step.

 

I used an IMG file (~75MB) and wrote it to my Seagate BackupPlus 3TB drive. There was only one partition.

 

Using CloneZilla it sees the external drive only as a 500MB, not 3TB.

 

How do I copy the whole 3TB image (not the 500MB that appears in CloneZilla) unto another external 3TB Seagate BackupPlus?

 

Thanks

 

-Hoping to create the IMG file without the need to make any modification to the 'damaged HDD'; is this possible?






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