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Startup Repair Offline / Lost data


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#1 k7188

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 03:23 PM

Hi guys, new to the forums and in need of some help.
 
I was called in to look at my parents PC despite being no expert myself. Windows was unable to boot and was giving a message along the lines of it was unable to access the device?!. The given options were to try booting Windows 7 again (which brought me back to the same point) or to go to System Restore. Having already been unable to use a system repair disk after receiving the message 'startuprepairoffline', I tried System Restore.
 
Mistakenly I thought it would give me the option to set the system back to a previous date but it was actually going to reinstall the OS. I only realised this after I had started the restore so I turned the system off by holding the power button as I didn't want my files to be lost. I thought my next best bet would be to connect the PC hard drive to my laptop, copying across the files and resuming the System Restore for a fresh install. 
 
When I took out the hard drive and connected it to my laptop I couldn't find any of the files. In fact, 142GB of the 143GB drive appeared to be free! So I'm wondering what has happened to the data as all folders on the drive are empty. Could the system restore process have deleted the files (or file table) in the short time it was running? And is there a way to recover them?
 
Thanks in advance (and apologies for the long post)


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#2 TheJokerz

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 03:52 PM

Sounds like may have formatted the disk if there is absolutely nothing in it.  


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#3 k7188

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 04:05 PM

Hi

 

When looking at the drive in windows explorer I see the some of the usual folders that you might expect in your OS drive (Windows, Drivers, Program Files, Users) and sub-folders within those. But there's nothing at the very bottom level i.e. no .exe, .doc, .avi files. So I'm wondering if the <10 seconds that the system restore was running would have been enough to erase this data?



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 04:24 PM

Depending on how far the install got you might have a chance retrieving the files using TestDisk for Windows. Download Testdisk and unzip the files to a folder on your laptop's desktop. WIth the drive attached to your laptop double click the TestDisk file. See this page on recovering files using testdisk. If testdisk finds the lost partition and you can list the files with the "p" key do not write a new partition table as shown in the link I posted. Your priority is to recover the files first. Only press the ":" key to select files/directories or press "a" to select all files on the lost partition. You would need as much space on the laptop as what you are going to recover. If you cannot find your partition with Quick Search do a deeper search.

 

If you cannot find the partiton using Deeper Search then you will need a scanning program like Easeus Data Recover. This will let you recover 1GB for free. After that you will need to purchase a key.

A solution that is not as user friendly is to use PhotoRec in the same directory as TestDisk. Make sure you pick the extensions you want recovered in file options or you will recover every single file. Read throught the whole step by step before trying to recover with PhotoRec. Do not use Qphotrec in the folder as that is not as powerful as photorec. Any file recovered with photorec will have a generic file name with the correct extension. You will have to open each and rename it.

 

Edit: The default location for recovery is the folder you unzipped TestDisk to. Never recover files back to the drive you are recovering from.


Edited by JohnC_21, 13 July 2015 - 04:27 PM.


#5 usasma

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 06:24 PM

Try GetDataBack from here:  http://www.runtime.org

It's free to try (and it'll tell you what it can recover) - but it'll cost to actually recover the data.
I prefer this because it's easy to use (despite the cost)

 

There's also a program named Recuva that can recover data.  It's free from here:  https://www.piriform.com/recuva

And there's a free program from here: 

 

Now, a final caution.  Each time you access the drive it's possible that the OS is going to overwrite some of the space where the files are.
As such, minimize the amount of looking around that you do.

The recovery programs are designed to minimize this, but it never hurts to be extra cautious.

 

Good luck!


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#6 TheJokerz

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 08:08 AM

I have also had a lot of luck with Recuva and it is pretty user friendly and it free!

https://www.piriform.com/recuva


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#7 k7188

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 10:09 AM

So I tried using Recuva on the PC drive, recovering the data to an external hard drive to make sure I had enough free storage. The program ran for 10.5 hours recovering but when it finished and I tried to view the files I got the message that the external hard drive is not accessible, 'The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable' and that it needs to be formatted. I'm starting to panic a bit as this was a drive I had my own documents and backups saved to, and I therefore wouldn't want to format it.

So it looks like I have created a second problem in trying to fix the first! Is there a way to make this drive accessible again without formatting?



#8 TheJokerz

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 10:56 AM

The only other thing that I can think of is create a lubuntu thumb drive.  Boot into lubuntu and move the files you want manually onto your external.  For some reason linux seems to be able to see files and partitions when windows fails on a hard drive.  Not sure if this would help  your end goal or not, worth a try tho.


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