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Need help!!!! I deleted large video files (> 7GB) and cannot recover them.

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11 replies to this topic

#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Mark Giles

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Posted September 15 2005 - 05:11 AM

I have a large western dig external drive ("G") that I saved video captures and pictures on. Two days ago, I accidentally deleted everything in my "vacation-videos-pictures" folder. Upon doing that, I didn’t touch the drive and left the computer alone. Last night when I returned home, I started downloading file recovery and undelete software to my internal "C" drive and running the programs to help recover the files. All of the programs came back with similar results. They recovered ALL files but the largest ones. However, each program did find the file name....the weird thing was, it found the name of these files but it had 0 (zero) bites in size next to it. There are a total of about 3 or 4 extremely large video files (between 7 and 11 gigabytes) which are avi files.

My question is...obviously the file or most of the file is still on the hard drive somewhere. Is there something else I can do to try to recover this file? Is it possible to reconstruct the file? I also heard something about a hex editor that can assist with this. I dont really care how long it takes.

I sure it’s clear the importance of these files and I'm willing to do anything it takes to recover them. If there is another forum or place one would recommend I direct this type of problem, any advice at all would be appreciated. Thanks for any help.

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted September 15 2005 - 07:16 AM

It is theoretically possible. I once manually recovered documents on a floppy disk using a hex disk editor (Norton Disk Editor -- those were the days). This was easier because the documents had clearly numbered outlines. It basically took all day. Your files are 10,000 times larger.

With the video, there may not be any such sample/frame/time markers. They will certainly be harder to read by eye. The clusters are probably contiguous, but maybe they're not. (How often do you defrag?) Depending on the video format (MPEG, DV, WMV, whatever) there may be structural markers to help. You could guess at a series of clusters and see what you get. It's worth a shot.

If you don't do it yourself, you could try places like OnTrack -- but I've never tried any.

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Mark Giles

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Posted September 15 2005 - 07:48 AM

Ok...out of all of the forums I have inquired, you have led me to the direction that the tech support for one of the recovery software companies recommended. This sounds very hopeful and you don’t realized the lengths I will go to recover these files.

He, like you, mentioned the hex editor. I'm very enthused to hear that it is possible. I now wonder if, by installing all of these programs, although on another drive, are they in any way jeopardizing my success rate. I have restarted my computer once (to complete the installation of one of the prior recovery programs) but besides that, the external hard drive has been on the entire time. Would I be putting file loss more at risk by backing up the drive to another drive so I can have more trial and error?

Ken I do appreciate the help and advice you have given so far.

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Mike Selis

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Posted September 15 2005 - 03:26 PM

You might have caused unrepairable damage by overwriting all or part of the files on the original hard drive. The professionals never attempt data recovery on the original hard drive, but instead make a bit by bit copy of the hard drive onto another hard drive. A bit by bit copy will copy every bit of data on a hard drive. The duplicate is then studied using data recovery tools which help piece together everything on the hard drive.

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   rob-h


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Posted September 16 2005 - 12:54 AM

Go to downloads.com and download undelete. I have used it to get back 4 gig files recorded by sagetv.

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted September 16 2005 - 09:35 AM

Yes, it would be safer to work on a backup. But that might be easier said than done, because most people don't actually want to copy the "unused" parts of the drive (which has your lost data). I have used DriveCopy in the past (although not for this purpose), but it's out of print. I imagine there's something out there you can use; you just have to find it. (If you have Unix/Linux/Mac OSX, you can just use dd).

If you're really paranoid, you can also use forensic hardware that is physically incapable of writing to the disk.

It doesn't sound like you have done any additional writing to the disk, other than the failed attempt to recover the files, which produced zero bytes. In doing so, you may have lost a useful piece of info: where the file starts. Even so, you can still find the start of an AVI file, because they begin with "RIFF".

In addition to knowing the AVI format, it may also help to know the format of the video codec used (e.g. Divx) in case there are splices in the middle and you have to find the next set of clusters.

Finally, you will need to know the disk format, either FAT32 or NTFS, to understand how to patch the file allocation tables to remap the clusters.

It's possible that you have lost a few clusters of a few files, and you will have to patch the files so that they are complete. For example, if you lost the first cluster of an AVI, you will have to recreate it. Depending on the video codec, you may lose a dozen frames or more of video for each cluster lost.

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   DeathStar1



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Posted August 13 2006 - 03:41 PM

I'm in the same boat. Somehow I accidentally deleted two HDTV files. I needed one of them to capture still images from for a website review.

Is there any program that is fully featured for a 30 day trial that will let me recover them? I was thinking System restore, but I don't beleive that works anywhere the subfolders of the C: drive. Just Windows Directory and desktop.

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted August 14 2006 - 03:04 AM

If you really really want to recover the files and can't take the risk of losing them permanently because of a mistake, talk to a company specialized in recovery. Of course, that will cost a noticeable amount of money (possibly in the four figures... although for pros this sounds quite simple so it may not be so pricey. I have no idea.)

We're talking places like http://www.ibas.com/ now.

Basically, if the data is crucial for you to recover, I wouldn't go fumbling around with recovery software if you don't know what you are doing.

If it would just be nice to recover but not super-crucial my-job-is-on-the-line important, then try something like Ontrack, Getdataback etc. This should be solvable with software tools.

I doubt if you can get by with a trial though. People rarely need to recover on an ongoing basis - the first time they need it, the recovery software people want money, for obvious reasons. I know some programs allow you to analyze the disk, see if you can recover the files - and then if you actually want to perform the recovery, you have to register the program first.

I believe Getdataback works like that (a friend used it to recover files and it behaved in that fasion, IIRC.)
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
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#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Mike Fassler

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Posted August 14 2006 - 11:05 AM

Yeah getdataback requires registration before you can recover any files, but it usually works pretty well, as long as you dont use software like windows washer on your pc you should be able to get the files back intact. But yeah if the files are important then I would suggest a recovery place, althou it will be pricey to do so.

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Mark Giles

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Posted August 14 2006 - 06:15 PM

I'll give me opinion and what finally worked for me......

When I had the problem last year, I downloaded a bunch of different programs (trial versions). PhotoRetriever worked for me! Perfect.

Paid $40.00 which was well worth it. I got all of my files back! It took about 12-18 hours to search the entire drive (250GB) But it was well worth it.

There support was good too. I e-mailed them with questions and they
always replied within 24 hours.

This progam of course is just for photos/videos. But you others with less restrictions for a little more.


#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Kyle McKnight

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Posted August 15 2006 - 03:28 PM

That would've been a great follow-up post to the thread you started then Posted Image I guess a year-later never hurts!
Kyle McKnight

#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Mark Giles

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Posted August 16 2006 - 09:29 AM

Originally Posted by Kyle McKnight
That would've been a great follow-up post to the thread you started then Posted Image I guess a year-later never hurts!

I was busy doing ten months for an assault on a sarcastic thread poster. (got out early for good behavior)

Kiddin. Sorry about the delay Posted Image