Please Help Me Save My Data

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Jeff Lund, May 23, 2003.

  1. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I've lost all my data, 3 years worth of work and leisure. Outlook .pst, several crucial applications, 30GB of mp3's, tons of Star Wars multimedia files, among other vital documents. I'm soooooooo depressed right now. 80GB down the drain.

    Here's the short version. I recently added an SIIG ATA 133 PCI controller card along with a 120GB Maxtor internal HDD to serve as my back-up drive. Last night I decided to wipe out my system (it was getting extremely sluggish) like I've done hundreds of times before, although never with an extra drive in the mix. Anyway, I attempted to install Win98 (for gaming only) and then Win2K for a dual boot. Something went very wrong with the '98 install. So I decided to start over and install DOS (my old reliable ancient process) and then '98. When that didn't turn out as I planned, I just installed Win2K Pro from the bootable CD. All went fine.

    Until I went to Disk Management to re-add the 120GB HDD. Win2K basically said that it needs to format the drive and says there is no data on the HDD. I don't know what went wrong and how to fix this.

    Did the '98 or DOS attempted installs inadvertently format the HDD on the ATA controller bus? I didn't see anything like that happen but who knows. So what do I do? Can I retrieve my data? Should I try taking the 120GB HDD off the ATA controller bus and add it as a 2nd HDD (I already have 2 HDD's installed....I'll just swap the secondary HDD out)? If necessary, I'll send my drive out to be rstored if the data is gone. If it comes to that, who do I contact and what will they charge me? Has anyone had any experience with this scenario? Hopefully, it won't come to that.

    I sincerely hope you guys can help me out with this task as you have in the past. Any and all suggestions, information, and wisdom is greatly appreciated. Please respond here of contact me directly via e-mail: [email protected]
     
  2. Jeff Savage

    Jeff Savage Second Unit

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    I would take out all the new stuff that you added and get back to your basic system. With your orginal HD in the system get a DOS bootable floppy disc and boot off of it. Once it is booted see if you can see any of your directories. If you can see directories then all your data should be ok. NOTE: This will not work if you were using NTFS.

    From here you have several options. At this point I would put your new stuff back in and remove your orginal HD. Install the fresh OS on the new HD, put your old back in the system, copy all the data to the new one, wipe the old one and use it as a backup.

    Really this is jsut one of several troubleshooting paths but it should give you a good start.

    Laters,
    Jeff
     
  3. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    There really isn't any problem with the new hardware, which has run flawlessly for months now. Somehow, something got screwed up or I made a huge mistake. In any event, both my primary and secondary HDD's have been formatted (the former with NTFS and the latter with FAT32) and as you can see, I'm up and running.

    The problem is the ATA controller bus Maxtor, which appears to have either have nothing on it, or Win2K won't read it, or I'm doing something wrong adding this drive back into the mix. I can't see anything. When I click on the drive, I get a message to the effect: "This drive is not formatted. Would you like to format now?" When I select the properties, it shows 0 bytes Used, 0 bytes Free. When listing all my drives, it does show a capacity of 115GB. IIRC, I added this HDD as a dynamic volume previously and it worked beautifully. Now I can't remember how I did that.

    HELP!!!!
     
  4. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been playing around in Disk Management. I tried making the drive Active, which has no effect on the situation. I did find a way to Upgrade to Dynamic Disk, which as I said I thought I did before. But I'm not sure if I should do this. Here's why. Once I select that Disk to be upgraded, this message appears: "Once you upgrade this disk to dynamic, you will not be able to boot previous versions of Windows from any volume on this disk." Which is fine with me. But the next message I'm confused about: "Filesystems on any of the disks to be upgraded will be force dismounted. Do you want to continue this operation?" I've selected No until I get some advice.

    Just to be clear, I was using this 120GB HDD as a back-up drive, as opposed to purchasing a tape back-up system. I viewed amd operated this HDD not as a local drive but as type of mapped network drive. In my mind, that's kinda what it was, on its own bus and separate from my other IDE drives.

    P.S. I'm not sure if I formatted this drive as NTFS or FAT32. Logically I think I left it at FAT32 as I'm not a master with NTFS. But certainty escapes me. I don't know if this helps.

    Please help in any way you can. A huge thanks in advance [​IMG]
     
  5. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    Jeff,
     
  6. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Dave for the suggestions. I decided to download GetDataBack to see what it could do and I'm still having some serious problems. When GDB scans and finds my drives, it lists all 3 twice: first as physical drives and then as logical drives (I have a 60GB drive as the master, 20GB as the slave, and then the 120GB as the back-up on the ATA bus).

    With me so far? So when the 120GB is listed as a physical drive, it's listed as: 1st HDD, 1st partition FAT16-Huge 120053MB. GDB lists the Start & End Cylinders, LBA start, total sectors, and that it's bootable. So I did a FAT16 scan of the drive and nonsensical data came up in several different folders and sectors. Basically it looked like Russian with modified dates starting in 2021. When I tried to view this data, nothing ever showed up.

    When the 120GB is listed as a logical drive, I get a completely different readout: Hard drive 120053MB (G[​IMG]. Name: G, Label: \.G:, Serial #: 00000000, Size: 240107490 (120054MB), Free: 0 sectors (0.00MB), File system: [blank], etc. A scan of that gives me similar if not the same nonsensical and worthless data as above.

    Trying to be logical here, it appears that DOS did write to this drive somehow since the file structure is listed as FAT16. Do you draw the same conclusion? How and why, I have no idea. So based on what I've done already, what should I do? I'm still in a world of hurt here so please feel free to chime in.

    Keep 'em coming. I need all the help I can get.
     
  7. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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  8. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Jeff, also please explain why you tried to upgrade to a Dynamic disk and why you think you need it.
     
  9. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Rob!!!! Glad you joined the discussion!!!! I feel a little better already.

    Let me try and explain exactly what I wanted to do and what happened en route. My system had not been wiped clean in over a year. Usually I format and re-install my current OS, in this Win2k Pro, when my system slows a bit and when I've installed and downloaded a bunch of apps and files in a relatively short period of time. I had not wiped my system clean because I moved a while back to an extremely rural area with no broadband connections available, thus no downloading or fast way to keep updated. But my system became sluggish and I had no other alternative.

    My drive layout is as follows: 60GB master (NTFS) C:, Plextor burner D:, Pioneer DVD drive E:, 20GBGB slave (FAT32) F:, & the 120GB (not sure what file structure to begin with) HDD on the ATA133 SIIG card. The latter drive was used exclusively as a back-up drive. And it was working perfectly since I installed it 3 months ago. Win2k Pro recognized the ATA card and the HDD with no issues whatsoever.

    So my plan was to have a dual boot situation with Win98 for gaming only and Win2K Pro for everything else. So I started out with a Win98 boot disk and attempted installing it. I received an install error that led me to believe that the NTFS structure couldn't be overwritten. Then I decided to Fdisk and delete all drives/partitions and start over new. But then I still couldn't install Win98 due to the same error message. I went back to my old tried and true system of installing DOS. I always used to do this and then install Win98 with no problems. When DOS was going through its formatting procedure, it listed 3 drives that it formatted. I thought it was referring to partitions and didn't think it actually found the 3rd ATA bus drive (since it listed 3-2GB aprtitions). Anyway, after DOS competed installing, I checked Fdisk and saw that it indeed listed 3 drives in 2GB partitions instead of 3 partitions of the master HDD.

    From there, I didn't know what to do but I had a sneaking suspicion that DOS did indeed write to my back-up drive. So I decided to re-install Win2k Pro from the bootable CD and take it from there. Installation performed flawlessly. Once I finally booted into Win2k, I saw my master drive but not the secondary or the ATA bus HDD. So I went into Disk Management where they were both listed. I formatted the slave drive with FAT32, in the hopes I could still install Win98 and use that drive for gaming. The ATA drive, as I stated above, kept asking me if I wanted to format the drive. Win2k wouldn't read it.

    As for your question on why I wanted to upgrade it to a dynamic disk: I was just experimenting. I'm not an expert with volumes, RAID, or dynamic disks, so I was just trying different options to get the drive to work. I thought I had designated the ATA HDD to be a dynamic disk previously when I installed the ATA card and drive. And it worked fine. So I guess I was trying to duplicate that process with my fingers crossed, hoping it would work again.

    So I've downloaded GetDataBack and you see my results so far. I don't know what I should do next. Is there anything I can do? Or is the drive so FUBAR'd that I have to send it out for recovery? How much does a company charge for this? Who would I send it to?

    Please feel free to ask any additional questions. I'm really in your hand here as you can see I've made some huge mistake and I'm out of my comfort zone.

    BTW, what should I have done to avoid this? What is the proper procedure? I know having an ATA bus HDD is not the normal set-up, but how would I avoid this same scenario in the future? Should I have known that the ATA drive could be written to? I assumed it was safe. Maybe my techniques aren't the best. What is the best and easiest way to layout my machine for a dual boot scenario?

    I'm getting myself so confused so I'll defer to everyone here. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I've just been reading this. I do have a dual boot, but that's not what I'm worried about. I'm wondering how a format command formatted all 3 drives at once. Via DOS, I type in format c: and hit enter, and it formats 1 drive.

    Also, as for fdisk. Again, you select which drive you want to work with, so it should not have done all 3 at once. The same would go for an NTFS partition, which wouldn't work on an ATA bus.

    Hopefully, the other guys helping have those same questions.

    Glenn
     
  11. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Jeff, this will be a long reply, so bear with me. Without knowing all of the exact steps you took (I wouldn't expect you to remember them all) it's very difficult to try and pinpoint what went wrong. The one thing I would point out that you did wrong was to try different 'things' without getting to the root cause of what was going wrong to begin with.

    OK, first of all, I highly doubt you need a dynamic disk. They're used mainly on servers with multiple disk configurations. The help file for them reads:

     
  12. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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  13. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Jeff, something here which might help.

    I've uploaded a copy of a utility called GDISK. This is a command-line app which runs from DOS and is provided with Norton Ghost. Download it from here (right-click and choose 'Save Target As') then copy it onto a floppy. Boot into DOS using a boot floppy then run this app as below:

    gdisk 1

    then

    gdisk 2

    This will display the complete partition layouts for disk 1, then disk 2. It's a bit easier than using FDISK.

    I urge you NOT to play around with this app because it's very easy to make an enormous mess of things if you start toying with the different command line options. Just use it as above and you'll be fine.
     
  14. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Oops Rob - I guess I was misunderstood. I meant that the drive on the ATA bus could not be an NTFS because it is only 16 bit (in speed) and not 32.

    Need more cofee!
    Glenn
     
  15. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey guys. Sorry I haven't responded in a while. I've been trying everything to get my data back. I've used 2 great data recovery programs, GetDataBack & PowerQuest Lost & Found 1.06, and neither have been able to read the data. I also contacted a few data recovery companies and they quoted me around $1200. It seems they make no distinction between businesses who have budgets for this type of stuff and individuals who may desparately need this service.

    BTW Rob, gdisk was no help. It shows the drive as 1 huge 120GB partition with no data on it.

    I'm all out of solutions. Does anybody have any last ditch possibilities? If not, I'll just reformat and chalk this up to experience and stupidity.


    Thanks for all the help.
     
  16. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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  17. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    Hope someone else wiser than me can help you out. I got lucky and only lost about 15-20% of my stuff (got the rest back with GetDataback).
     

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