Why you should create backup and recovery cds

And obviously this apply to me also. Because last week i lost all my partitions on one of my disk drive which is unfortunately contains all my important files from projects to important documents and also include a not so important mp3 files. And to make things worse, the last backup i created is more than a year ago (mp3 and other not important files are excluded) so recovering from that backup is a no go for me. And the only thing i can do is try to recover it first by myself and if i can’t recover it, i’ve been thinking on taking the HDD to recovery experts (although i prefer to avoid this because i don’t have the money to pay for experts hdd recovery which cost more than 90 USD)

p.s. if you just want to know on what tools i used to do the recovery process and similar stuff, just scroll down

And here’s what happens last week:

  1. I started my computer, to continue working for my new project. And just right after i booted into Windows Vista (x86) (i have Vista x86 and Windows 7 x64 in Dual Booting). Windows stopped responding and forced me to reboot my computer using the reset button
  2. Computer restarted and then stuck on Windows Booting Logo (that progress bar thing), and force me to push the reset button again. This continue for about 2 – 4 times
  3. After several times restarting finally i can get into Windows Vista and to my surprise i was greeted with a message that is basically saying One of the partition is corrupted (the corrupted partition is where i stored the my documents and such, because i moved the my documents into another partition located at different physical drive from the OS partition). And so i run this command at the command prompt
    fsutil dirty set x: && fsutil dirty set y: && fsutil dirty set z:

    to mark all the partitions (just to make sure) on that particular drive as dirty and then restart windows to make windows scan and hopefully able to fix it

  4. At the scanning process, windows was able to locate and i guess fixing one partition, and when trying to fix another partition the chkdsk process stuck at 6% even after waiting for more than 1 and a half hour, so i decided to press the reset button once again
  5. What happens next is really surprising for me … although i can boot into Windows Vista, but Windows Vista can’t recognize that particular drive (with 3 partitions on it). And obviously this shocked me. So i tried restarting several times but still it won’t recognize that particular drive
  6. Then i tried running Recuva with hope that it’ll be at least recover my important files, but nope … instead it gives me a message saying something about partition (i can’t remember it unfortunately) but i guess that’s because the partition table (NTFS) got corrupted it can’t recognized it although the HDD can be recognized without problem in BIOS, so i have to resort to different tools, and fortunately i have several recovery cd’s which is based on Linux
  7. So I booted using the recovery cd’s, and Linux was able to recognize the drive although it still basically says corrupted partition (or unformatted partition but of course i’m not going to format it because it’s just going to make things worse), and tried running several tools (can’t remember the order exactly) and tried using TestDisk to rewrite the NTFS partition
  8. After using TestDisk to rewrite the partition table (all 3 partitions), i decided to restart to Windows .. but still Windows won’t recognize it, and so i booted again using the recovery cd and then found out that the NTFS partition is corrupted again and so i run TestDisk
  9. Instead of restarting to windows, this time i decided to stick on TestDisk after the rewrite partition table process completed, and choose to browse the corrupted partition using TestDisk, and voila … i can access all my files inside all 3 partitions via TestDisk without problem, and obviously the next step would be …. copying all the important files to another harddrive and thanks to NTFS-3G i was able to copy it later to my NTFS formatted partition
  10. And so after i have copied all the important files, i tried restarting again using different recovery cd’s, this time the recovery cd’s contain Mini Windows XP and run chkdsk /f via the command prompt on the corrupted partitions from Mini Windows XP to fix all those corrupted NTFS MFT and such and Thanks God, chkdsk was able to finish the job this time
  11. Then after i’m done with chkdsk i choose to copy all files to another HDD without even choosing the files first :D

Aftermath

Because i’m curious on what caused that problem after seeing:

  1. CHKDSK report no bad sector / error
  2. Data LifeGuard Diagnostic report no error
  3. SmartMonTools report no error

I’m thinking it’s probably IDE Controller issue or probably the SATA Socket that is being used on that particular HDD is dying … or there are too many dust on Motherboard + HDD (well i don’t use a case for my computer so it is left open, consider it as open source lol) but still i don’t have any idea on what caused such problems

And because i have no idea, i decided to clean everything after 6 months (including replacing thermalpaste for VGA, Chipset and Processor) :D

And for safety measure in the future, just in case my DVDROM Broke, i installed NeoGrub (basically Grub4DOS) to allow booting Knoppix, and other recovery tools directly from HDD (in other words frugal install or poor man install) to create backup for important files to other internal physical drives. And when i got enough money, obviously i’m planning on getting an External HDD for backup purpose, but for now i’m stuck with this option only

Tools Used

If you experienced similar problem like me, i’d recommend these tools that saved my life

Data Recovery Tools Used:

TestDisk: TestDisk saved my live by recovering the partition table, and also recovering my files (it’s included with most linux live)

– Portable Windows: I think this is important if you want to check and fix your NTFS disk if you can’t boot into Windows and if you want to run Windows Programs. You can use PEBuilder to create one for you

– Live Linux CD/USB that is designed for recovery purpose: You are free to choose between:

And if you want to combine them all into one CD/DVD, you can also use MultiCD or if you want to also boot the live cd directly from your HDD instead of CD/DVD, you can use Grub4DOS or NeoGrub from EasyBCD (p.s i’m using NeoGrub)

Testing Tools Used:

– Data LifeGuard Diagnostic
– SmartMonTools

Other Tools Used:

– CHKDSK and DISKPart (it’s included with Windows)

Cobian Backup: This is my current backup tool. It offers incremental, differential, or full backup option and also offer Volume Shadow Copy to be able to copy locked/used files when backup process started

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