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Hard Disk Recovery of My Own Computer!

Lost Data… It has happened to all of us. Just last week my computer was acting weird. I’ve been computing since 1995 and thought I had seen it all; however this was a new one on me. I thought at first it was my sound card, because there was a horrible distorted digital scream coming from my computer. I restarted and the machine would get through the Windows (XP PRO) login screen, start loading applications, and then restart.

After a couple of times I knew enough to stop trying and called my buddy Rich who is DTI’s network Manager. He dropped by and told me my hard disk was dead. I thought no problem I backed up just about every day with Ghost. So he replaced my disk and loaded the last full image of my system.

Everything was going smooth until I started testing my incremental data; you know the stuff like My Documents that I back up every night. Well I opened a spreadsheet and it was corrupt. My PST file was shot, all of my Word and Open Office documents were also crap.

I immediately called Rich and told him that I just turned into a data recovery customer. He gave the drive to Malcolm Jamieson, DTI’s head data recovery engineer. He had to completely swap the platters because the drive wasn’t able to communicate any more to the micro-code modules on the platters.

I found out that this is a very common problem with high capacity hard disks. The fact is a 250GB hard drive has the exact same size platters that a 40GB drive had, the drive manufactures are stuffing more and more info onto the platters using proprietary compression called micro-code.

Fortunately Malcolm knows what he is doing and was able to recover 100% of my lost data.

The lesson to be learned here is it’s not enough to just back up your data, you have to verify the data that is being backed up.

Over the next couple of weeks Rich and his cohort in crime John Best DTI’s Exchange and network expert are going to be implementing a bullet proof back up and restoration system. I will be documenting all of it here so everyone can benefit from my suffering and avoid hard disk recovery.

7 Responses to “Hard Disk Recovery of My Own Computer!”

  1. Nancy OBrien October 29, 2008 10:38 pm #

    Purchased and have seen what results the XP Data Recovery Software found, I have not recovered or copied the material. I can see the doc files, am questioning weither I should copy onto the slave drive, as a precaution since I did not see any recovery files in the photo’s or itunes files. Am I looking in the correct area? What is the meaning of the color coding files? Any advice, O/S XP Home, am not a seasoned veteran of computing issues. thx N

  2. Jacqui Best October 30, 2008 12:45 pm #


    You should always copy the data off of the drive you are trying to recover from. As far as the other files you are looking for I was say to use the search function in the software. In the “Search mask” type *.(file extension) so if it is jpegs you are looking to get back you could type *.jpg. The only directories listed then would be ones containing jpg files. If you don’t mind me asking what happened to these files in the first place.

  3. DTI Data Recovery November 3, 2008 11:31 am #


    I am forwarding this to a tech to answer. If you need help right now please call 727-345-9665 and I can help ASAP

  4. Jacqui Best November 3, 2008 11:40 am #


    The problem you are having is that the files we have found are in the “orphan” area which means that it is data we see but that it may be partially over written which is common when we are trying to do a recovery from a format reload. I received the email you wrote to Taryn in my email this morning and I am sending along another piece of software for you to try to do the recover with. If you have any questions about it you can reach me at 727-345-9665 ext 236

  5. Nancy OBrien November 3, 2008 11:26 am #

    I originally sent this email, with the exception of asking about the registry problem, to Tayrn over the weekend. Thought I would resend through blog, in case it did not reach the correct person.
    I am in need for some serious help. I have been blindly fumbling through the data recovery files, with no ability to identify how to just get a back to the original data on home PC. I called and talked to Jacqui, got advice, yet I am not capable of achieving the end goal. I read that there is a possibility the company has services to “take control” from your end to figure out the problem, and fix. I am at that point, looking for answers and/or help.
    Problems originally started with a unbootable XP O/S, no idea what happened I was out of town, returned to a failed attempt to restore system. Meaning that the restore was started than realized what would happen, computer was unplugged and what remained was what looked like O/S boot fractured, or missing registry boot info.
    I searched for days on the web, for ways in which to fix.
    Than I searched the web for recovery data systems, downloaded the DART XP Recovery program to a different computer. Tested it out to what I could understand, saw results as in files that were lost. I slaved an old internal drive, purchased DART XP and copied the entire Root & Orphan Folders to the slave. The slave drive started making clicking sounds, so I abandoned that idea, removed it and replaced it with a newly purchased external WD passport. I than reloaded the purchased program, had it recover the data on the hard drive, than copied the entire findings. It took just under 3 hours to copy. Again the folders/files names looked good. Called in and asked for help when I was unable to actually open them.
    I connected the Passport back to a laptop, and tried to see what I could accomplish. For instance, I installed itunes, than tried to import library on the recovered drive data without success. Tried to import at file level, some worked, some needed to be decoded (if that’s what its called when the program changes the extentions). This is the same type of circumstances that happen with other programs, Word, Outlook Express.
    The folders have no size amounts, but if you explored deeper to the files, the documents, pictures, music seemed to be buried and have a size amount. I tried to copying some at the deeper level, but It seems, that some of the file extension are weird. For instance some end with .ppa or w4?, eitherway when you attempt to open they end up with “program can’t open.” Than are unable to find a program on web to open. Does this indicate a registry error? Do the files need a decoder? I haven’t the foggiest idea. Nor the expertise to figure out, and I think that the more I keep muddling around searching I could actually be making more of a mess.
    Is there any hope that Dtidata could offer me? Helpless yet Hopeful…..thx Nancy


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