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After Windows Re-Install - Whole Harddrive Dissappeared!

This is a discussion on After Windows Re-Install - Whole Harddrive Dissappeared! within the Windows XP Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi there, This is first time I am using this site, but I have read the instructions and hope some


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Old 12-18-2007, 03:53 AM   #1
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Hi there,

This is first time I am using this site, but I have read the instructions and hope some nice person can help…

Last week for absolutely no reason at all, I powered-up my 5 year-old laptop and was greeted with “Disk Read Error. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart”.

After trying that many times and searching the web for answers, I decided to try a Windows recovery from the Recovery Console.

And it worked.

Except that every single thing that was on my hard drive is gone. Files, Programs, Media – all gone.

I know what you’re thinking: “He formatted his harddrive”. But I didn’t!
When I was given the option in the Recovery Console to Format or just install without formatting, I chose the former but almost as soon as it started, I cancelled it. Then I reloaded the console and then chose to Install without formatting.

A full-format was never done. Could a short, cancelled format (less than 10%) wipe the whole drive?!

Maybe you can shed some light on this issue.

I’d appreciate it. Details of the system are below:

OPERATING SYSTEM (OS):

WIN XP on a COMPAQ PRESARIO 2100

- Were there recent crashes that could have caused this problem? NO

- Did you install new software recently? If this is the case: Which software? (Brand, version, build) NO

- Did you do any of the following:
- Run a scan with an updated anti-virus program? NO, I don’t have an antivirus program
- Run a scan with an updated anti-Trojan program? NO, don’t have one of those either!
- Run anti-spyware scans with at least two freshly updated anti-spyware programs? (If so, which ones?) NO, don’t have one of those either!
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Old 12-18-2007, 03:49 PM   #2
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Did you follow directions similar to these?

If you did what I think you did it is very possible that you did indeed lose some of your data. You said that it began to format and then you stopped it as soon as you saw it formatting?

If yes, the bad news is that the way a hard drive works is a file is kept at the very beginning of the drive that knows the locations of all the other files, like a table of contents. If you began to format but then aborted, the "table of contents" could have been wiped out.

Some of your files may still be on the drive, but Windows can't see them without that table of contents. The best way to get them back would be to use some form of data recovery software to get them back.

If you want your files back, DO NOT USE THE COMPUTER! The files will remain on the drive until they are overwritten by something else, like another file. The more you use the computer, the more likely it will be that you cannot recover the files. The best bet is to attach the hard drive to another computer and from another computer run a data recovery software program.

BMR777
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:29 AM   #3
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Hi BMR,

Thank you for your very useful posting.

I managed to get hold of recovery software called "EasyRecovery", and I haven't used it fully yet because it seems that it will take many hours to do its job.

When I ran its scan procedure, it identified that 30GB of my 40GB hard-drive was an "Unknown File System". Currently Windows is working in the remaining 10GB, which it does recognise as NTFS.

The only option it gave me that seemed to do anything was to recover the 'RAW' hard-drive sectors, as the 'NTFS' and 'FAT32' options didn't work and were not recognised.

So I need to leave it overnight since the 'RAW' option is so painfully slow.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Thank you and I hope things are good in Chicago...it's freezing here in London.
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Old 12-19-2007, 07:27 AM   #4
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Your best bet would be to run this program from a second computer with the hard drive of the first computer slaved (attached) to the second computer. Running data recovery software within the same computer that you are trying to recover from is not recommended as while you're working there may be additional data loss.

I hope everything works out for you. It's also cold here in Chicago. My car's under about a half foot of snow and I have a space heater running full blast at my desk.

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