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Using Restore Feature With Dell And Compaq HP

I take a lot of time to evaluate, what the most frequent Technical support calls I receive are. After a thorough evaluation I have noticed that I receive an inordinate amount of calls referencing the go back or system restore feature that many of the new computers are preloaded with. This is one of the most common data recovery calls we get.

The most popular of these seem to be Dell’s PC Restore by Symantec and HP Compaq’s PC system recovery. Let me take a moment to explain how these restores work. When your hard drive is installed at the factory and the operating system loaded, a very small semi invisible partition area is created at the beginning of the drive. This small partition usually uses about 2 gig of your drive and is used to store a compressed image of your machine as it was when it left the manufacturer. In other words, it takes a snapshot of how all the software was loaded and stores that in the tiny partition. If something happens to your operating systems and you can no longer get into Windows, you employ this partition.

In your documentation there is an explanation of how to get into you recover partition or diagnostic partition and is usually done by hitting F10 when you boot up. At this point you will be asked to make sure you have your data backed up and then you will be asked if you would like to restore your machine. If at the time you’re doing this you happen to be speaking with the manufactures technical support people they advise you to click yes and continue the restore procedure. Now, the party is over and from this point forward your data has become highly compromised, if not totally destroyed. Understand that the tech support at the manufacturer only cares about getting the PC back up and running and feel no responsibility to your data. This is an important point that must be clearly understood. They don’t care about your data or if you need hard drive recovery.

Ok so now you have run the system restore, you boot in to windows and low and behold all of your data is gone. Your operating system and applications have been restored to the original state and your data now resides in the Twilight Zone. The following are the steps you will need to take in order to try and recover some of your data files (ie .jpg, .doc, .mp3) for hard drive recovery.

Dell Compaq and HP System Restore feature and how to recover your data files.

  1. Move the hard disk to another computer either via USB chassis or by slaving it to another PC. Please see DTI’s blog if you don’t know How To Slave A Hard Drive.
  2. Purchase a piece of file carving or file harvester software for a raw file recovery. The piece of software that we sell that does this kind of data recovery is Fast File Finder the link will take you to the download page where you can download the demo. Like all of DTI Data Recovery’s software, it will show you your data before you buy it! We have a long list of file types that we can recover and hopefully yours will be on it. Data Recovery Software like this normally recovers many different types of data file formats.
  3. Run a scan of the hard drive and see what files Fast File Finder locates.
  4. Save the files to a different hard drive because you do not want to put any data on the hard drive you are trying to recover from. Let me say that again, do not save the data to the physical drive you are trying to recover data from.
  5. Lastly, go through all the files that the raw file finder has recovered for you and see if your data is there.

If you had not defragged your drive in more then 2 weeks before the system restore a lot of the files will be corrupted due to file fragmentation. You can see DTI’s blog on how to set up a scheduled defrag so that in the event that this happens again you will be prepared. You will also notice you have lost all your directory structure and file names. It is unfortunate, but because you have a perfectly good working file system at this point, and all of the old information in the Master File Table, Partition Sector, and Master Boot Record have all been over written this is the only option. The best way to avoid hard drive recovery all together is to back up often!


7 Responses to “Using Restore Feature With Dell And Compaq HP”

  1. Davedata99 March 1, 2007 5:00 pm #

    Well, atleast recovery of some data is possible after a restore.

  2. Lisa68 March 1, 2007 8:06 pm #

    I found this blog while searching undo restore. lol, I guess you can’t really undo a restore. My computer was full of ads and it was running very slow for several months. If finally got to the point where it took about 10 minutes to boot. So, I did a restore. I didn’t realize I was going to lose all my digital pictures. I purchased your software and recovered all my pix from my hard drive, Yeah! Thanks for the tips. Otherwise I might have spent alot of time figuring this out.

  3. recuperación de los datos March 2, 2007 12:51 am #

    ” If you had not defragged your drive in more then 2 weeks before the system restore a lot of the files will be corrupted due to file fragmentation. ”

    Can you please explain why this happens…

  4. Michael March 2, 2007 11:40 am #

    Here is Jacqui’s answer

    Ok so the reason that it will not work is that, with a “raw file scan”, we start scanning at the beginning of the hard drive and scan through to the end. As we are doing the scan we are picking up header information, every file has it’s own distinct header, we then continue to scan looking for the footer. If you have not defragged in awhile your files will be fragmented which means that parts of other files or empty space will be between the header and footer. This is very prevalent in doc, xls, and other data type files that are being edited frequently. Usually files like pictures and mp3’s are unaffected greatly by fragmentation. Recovery rate is always much higher on these file types. It is not to say we can not get a lot of the data back in a doc, but it does require eyes on and a hex editor to do so, with very specific in put from the customer on the kind of “text” data they are trying to get back.

  5. Fascist are taking over January 2, 2008 10:55 pm #

    What sickens me about these companies is that they advertise a cpu with having a 100 gb HD, yet they fill the drive up wth a restore partition that decreases the amount of space for me to use for my own documents. So a cpu with a 100gb drive is actually a cpu with a 97 gb drive. Just because the computer fascists like HP, Tooshiba and Dell can get out of making a few backup discs. I think that people should demand that these companies increase the sizes of the HD’s to accomodate the extra space for their lack of ability to print some cd’s. People are so stupid, they just take what they are given and believe any excuse from other technology fascist who justify the ill actions of the cpu manufacturers. If the cpu companies are “saving so much $$” then why isn’t it reflected in the price of new cpu’s?? Its all just bull, all of it. One day people will wake up to the scams being run by the technology fascists.

  6. Dman April 2, 2008 6:23 pm #

    This HP ze4300 I’m messing with seems to have some kind of proprietary partition on it… I’m trying to recover it with the XP disc, but when I boot off the CD, it says that the partition it sees is “unknown” and that it’s empty space too.

    If it doesn’t know what kind of filesystem the partition is, how does it claim to know it’s empty space?? I digress…

    If I boot to recovery console, it sees no Windows directory whatsoever.

    The machine will try to boot it self off this “unknown” partition. I can see the “Windows XP Home” screen and progress bar, so it obviously has a Windows directory and data stored therein.

    If I hook it up to another PC via USB IDE link, I cannot get it to be recognized at all. Odd.

    So, my question is, what kind of proprietary partitioning filesystem does this thing use? Does anyone know?

    I’d like to try a repair install before running the things recovery software. Easier not to lose data that way. Any ideas ?

  7. audrey Lewis September 21, 2009 4:40 pm #

    I watched your video of changing jumper from master to slave. On my Maxtor model # 34098h4 on the back it says J50 Master/Single On Slave Off. The jumper is on the first set of pens. There are two sets of pens next then a single pen, then one more set of double pens. This HD was used as master when lastt used. I want to change the jumpers to make it the slave so I can transfer data to an external HD.

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