As I have mentioned before we have all either by design or by accident fdisked an NTFS file system. In doing so all of the files become inaccessible and the assumption for many years was that they could not be recovered. Many of the more recent pieces of data recovery software do not, and cannot bring your file system back into a state where the files can be accessed. In other words, most pieces of data recovery software cannot reverse an accidental fdisk.
Data recovery software has evolved into moving data from the problem drive and placing it on a new drive. The setup for this type of recovery is at best tedious and in some cases can make the current file system problem worse. The first pieces of recovery software I designed and programmed would boot into a DOS prompt from a floppy. Residing on the floppy was the software, and the technician would either execute the software from a command prompt or the AUTOEXEC.BAT file would have an auto-boot of the ‘exe’ in its script. Once the software was online there were many tools that a technician could use to diagnose a file system problem. To this day there are many old pieces of my DOS software that technicians are using to recover a file system.
What made the software great was the fact that it fixed the file system on the drive that contained the damaged file system. In other words, you didn’t have to buy another drive, mount it, install an OS on it, download software to it, take the damaged file system drive and put it in a USB device and mount it. Then run the software on the damaged file system from the newly installed drive. Then move the data from the bad drive to the good drive. There are also times when there may be so much data to recover that a third drive is brought into the picture as a destination drive for the data.
Why go through all of this kind of trouble? Why write software that would make an end-user go through these types of machinations in order to bring a possible simple fix online? The data recovery software industry moved in this direction because most of the people buying the software were no longer technicians, they were end users. The Internet made everyone a ‘do-it-yourself’ data recovery guru. The end user thought you could buy apiece of software and become ‘JOE TECH’ and fix their problems themselves. Well, they found out quickly that if they misdiagnosed the problem the software that I was writing would wreak havoc on a file system making the problem much worse. So instead of educating the end user and making them take the drive to a trained and qualified data recovery specialist, we wrote software that protected the problem drive. Mores the pity.
Wow, did I get on my soapbox or what? Well, I have exceeded my total blog words for the week on this particular subject. Next week I will show an MBR that is in service, and then I will use fdisk to whack the partition and discuss the file system components affected.
Until next time…
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