Sunday, October 11, 2009

Then Disaster Strikes!

The biggest fear of anyone who uses a computer is that of a hard drive failure. I have had a few in the last few years and a couple of them have been big. In 2005, I had to purchase a program that would recover the boot sector of my hard drive and then I could recover my data and rebuild the computer. In 2006, another failure was much more easy to recover and I was able to get back up and running with an afternoon of work. Last year, the hard drive crashed on my company laptop which is encrypted and it took several days of running SpinRite to correct the errors on the drive before it was able to be recovered. But because this laptop belonged to my employer, I was not worried due to the fact that I back up to the network regularly and it was up to the wonderful techs to recover the drive while I moved on to another laptop.

This summer, I knew the primary drive on Monster was not in the healthiest of states (no snide remarks about Pennsylvania meant in that statement either.) I had planned on not using it as the primary hard drive as I upgraded to Windows 7 and pushed the hard drive to back up status outside of the PC using my eSATA interface. I was relieved when I had installed Windows 7 and migrated the majority of information to the other drives inside of monster. I had about 90% of the information backed up and migrated when I turned on the PC the other day and discovered that the disaster had occurred and the drive was not going start because the data stored on the boot sector was damaged beyond repair or was missing. I downloaded some recovery software and it failed to recover anything. I downloaded another program and again, same results and no data. After trying about five try before you buy programs I had limited success with those with on 1 actually pulling file names but could not recover any data. The rest of the products did not get that far.

Hmmm..... What to do now? I was not in a total jam, but two of the files that I could not recover were the taxes from this past spring for my mother and me. I really wanted those files back. I am glad most everything else was backed up on a MyBook or another external drive. What next?

So, I decided to purchase SpinRite and go against all my training on recovering a damaged hard drive. The first rule is to never wite back to a drive that cannot be read by a PC because it can cause further loss of data, but considering everything else had been a loss, what did I have to lose. So I Googled SpinRite and was directed to Gibson Research and I bought a copy. I burned an ISO to a bootable CD and prayed it would work.

After running SpinRite, I was not able to see the hard drive as a mountable device, but I did have success with the one tool that worked a little. Instead of just seeing the file name, I was able to recover the directory tree and see the files. Whew! SpinRite did the trick.

Now, this is not a recommendation of SpinRite as a data recovery tool because it is not a tool to recover data. But if nothing else will work and you are not going to send the drive out to a pricey data recovery company, then trying SpinRite might just be the trick to make everything work. But, I guess you would be better off running SpinRite more often and preventing the crash from beginning ion the first place. So, I have my tax files back and I have learned a lesson. Take care of your hard drive because even if it is not on the verge of a physical failure, the data on it may be corrupted and may cause a failure down the road.

The moral of the story... Back up your data all the time and don't worry about hard drive failure.

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