Recovering from a hard drive crash

A few days ago, I was working away on a project when my faithful computer make a quiet ..errrrkk! sound and quit.

It was after midnight and I made several attempts to restart the computer, with no success. The system could not even complete a Safe Boot sequence. I quit for the night and spent a restless night trying to figure out how I was going to stretch my budget to buy a replacement computer.

The next day the full reality of my situation hit me. All of my image files and articles were on this particular computer and many applications that were vital to my production of income. I had bought several backup drives but had never set up a real backup system to capture new and revised files on a daily basis. I had been winging it as far as backups and now was having to pay the price.

Google came to the rescue with many helpful suggestions on applications that would rescue files from my damaged hard drive. I chose Disc Doctors because they offer a free evaluation download which would help me decide whether enough data could be recovered to make it worthwhile buying the application.

It was a bargain and I recovered almost 255 Gb of data within two days. If you want to know how it was done, you will need to read the rest of the story.

I pulled out the hard drive in hopes of salvaging the thousands of files I had created in the last 5 years. It was a serial ATA drive, which is a fairly modern hard drive with the new skinny signal cable instead of the wide flat cable of a few years ago.

I opened up our remaining desktop computer and found that I could plug the salvaged hard drive into the mother board which had a spare hard drive socket.

The desktop booted up normally, but could not read the NTFS file system on the salvaged hard drive. The CHKDSK utility indicated that there was extensive damage to the files on the disk.

Here is a summary of the features of the NTFS data Recovery Software by Disk Doctors:

Using this data recovery software you can recover data from

1. IDE / AT
2. SATA
3. SCSI
4. USB Flash Drives

Also the type of data loss scenarios where software would be useful is:

1. Missing or Lost Partition Recovery
2. Deleted Partition Recovery
3. Deleted File Recovery
4. Re-formatted drive recovery
5. Formatted partition recovery

This was the part that sold me on the product:

Note: We recommend that you download the evaluation versions first which will give you first hand experience to try and test before purchasing. Evaluation version gives you a fair idea on chances of the results that the full version might deliver. We suggest that you test, evaluate and get a complete understanding of our product capability using the evaluation / demo version.

The Disk Doctors application is easy to run. It does the recovery in two steps, first by trying to reconstruct the files which have index and directory information. When all of these are found, you can select a turbo recovery option which recovers isolated files without an index or directory structure.

I did not expect that it would take so long to locate the files to be recovered. The last time I had done this, disk drives were very much smaller. It took 5 or 6 hours to recover 255 gigabits of data from the corrupted disk. Once I saw how many files were recovered, I knew this software would do the job I wanted.

Up to this point, I had not paid for anything. When I went to save the "recovered" files, I was politely but firmly told I needed to purchase a license to activate the software. This was quite OK as now I knew exactly how much data I was recovering from the corrupted disk.

The cost of the NTFS Data Recovery Softwre was $99.00 and I considerd it a bargain. I downloaded the activation code and started saving the recovered files to a Seagate portable drive.

The saving of files took six or seven hours. I started it in the morning and it was completed by late afternoon. If I had been in a hurry, I could have saved the most important files in minutes and would have been back working on my interrupted project again.

I am now back at work using a different computer with all my files safe at hand. I have set up an automated backup program that stores all new and revised files every evening. I can select how many earlier revisions will be kept for each revised file. I am duplicating this on every computer I have until I can afford to set up a central server system with automated backup that services all of my computers.

My lack of backups cost me some money and several days of lost production. If you are dependent on computers for your livelihood, don't risk your business. Get a backup system and use it.

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