Spread the love! TechSpot Tech Gift Shortlist 2017

Data recovery

By worker · 4 replies
Jan 21, 2009
  1. i have posted here before as mom2techsupport but lost my password. so, hello everybody :)--and i have a question--

    i hope someone can help here--i am attempting to recover some pictures of a harddrive. it's a situation i have never run into before and i am completely lost--

    drive spins, can hear it.

    windows and linux both see a drive, but don't see anything in it. couldn't select repair disk.

    the most information i got was from active boot. the drive is 20gigs but was formatted into five partitions. one is 90mb, three are 1 gig each.

    and now the weird part--that first partition is formatted in fat12.

    any ideas?

    for the record, i don't care about the drive itself, my hope is to retrieve pictures for the family that owned it.
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Here's a few different tools to try to attempt partition repair and/or partiition data recovery. People have reported good results when using the tools but the result (and certainly quaility of the result) may vary by situation.

    Gparted and TestDisk (freeware)
    Partition Doctor (free to try, see what it finds, subscription required to apply any fixes
    Active File Recovery (free to try, free version limits recovery to files 64KB or less.

    For paid software tools, i'd say i've seen more feedback on Partition Doctor. It also appears it knows hot to try and "fix" things in a number of different ways
  3. mom2techsupport

    mom2techsupport TS Rookie

    i have my password now--i wasn't patient enough waiting for it last night--

    thank you, looking around.

    i had actually considered g-parted but then i got scared of...i don't really know what, lol! it is a new situation and it seriously has me confused.

    when i suggested deleting the fat12 partition to my tech friend (who, btw, knows much much more than i do) he thought it was risky. his point is that we are trying to retrieve files, not delete them. i see his point, but i don't know what else to try.

    and something i forgot to mention last night--i got "overlapping partition" messages.

    this is the one i tried last night. it would not proceed beyond the overlapping partition messages.

    also tried munix (sp?)

    off to download g-parted. it has worked in the past when nothing else did.
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    1. Does it indicate which is the boot partition as for sure you don't want to delete that one!
    2. If in any doubt, yea, don't delete.
    3. I've heard of good things about Partition Doctor (free version reports problems, pay version to fix them. But from others posting on here it really did fix after buying full version)
    4. I'll post a draft of a Guide i'm working on (related to your type problem actually). Includes instructions to create a CD you can boot from AND has both Gparted and another freeware tool TestDisk you can try
    Hope at least one out of all those work for you!
  5. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    When Windows refuses to recognize your USB hard drive
    Drawing the battle lines
    There’s a very long and varied list of “things-to-look-for” to find and fix cause of Windows no longer recognizing your USB hard drive correctly. At some point during the battle for a solution, it helps to narrow the focus of the search to your hardware or the software you have running on the machine. One way to rule out the software
    • Create a non-Windows boot CD and use it to boot your machine
    • Your computer boots and only loads / runs the software on the CD
    • Check if your computer recognizes the USB drive correctly now after removing Windows and your other software from the equation
    This guide
    => Provides info about choice of commercial and freeware products which can be included and then launched from bootable CD
    => Instructions to create a bootable Gparted-Live CD (freeware) and guidance for using it to test (possibly repair) your problem

    Choice of products
    There are both commercial and freeware product choices. Each use a different set of test and recovery tools
    Commercial Products
    Acronis Disk Director and Norton Partition Manager are two of several commerical products which help in drive detection, partition management and partitition recovery. (Note their emphasis on “partition recovery” vs more general “data recovery). Other products, such as DataGetBack, focus primarily on data recovery features

    This CD has an assortment of freeware / public source code based tools. CD tools include
    => Gparted. Offers drive detection, partition management and data edit and recovery
    => TestDisk. Yet another detect, manage and recovery tool​
    Deciding which one’s for you I believe the CDs are about equal at drive detection. They vary in user interface and partition management and data recovery functions / options offered
    • Many people use the commercial products, many use Gparted without problem. That said, problems still happen. And to some extent you’re more on your own and need be a bit more computer savvy if the problem happens with freeware
    • I’ve seen opinions on DataGetBack (commercial data recovery) all over the map though, generally, people seem happy to delighted
    • Never used TestDisk either (freeware data recovery). Again, have seen opinion vary tho generally good / has done the job
    • You can always find more doing online searches for things like problem after gparted vs. problem after acronis disk director)
    • Consider your own needs in documentation and types of support in assessing commercial vs freeware as well product cost vs functionality
    >>> If you want to post own experience be sure to include the product version used <<<
    Gparted Live-CD
    Its tools include
    Gparted. Gparted is the Gnome Partition Editor. (If you like interesting acronyms: Gnome is part of GNU). Use Gparted to help detect, manage and recover your disk partitions and data. More info at:
    ==> Gparted web site
    ==> Gparted documentation
    ==> Gparted FAQ
    ==> Gparted Screenshots

    TestDisk. TestDisk is a detect / some partition management / more-so-a recovery tool on the Gparted-Live CD. Since it’s freeware, you may want to simply try it and decide things yourself. More info at:
    ==> TestDisk website
    ==> TestDisk documentation (including screenshots)​
    Create then boot from CD
    To create CD
    • Click here for Gparted-Live-CD download page
    • The page lists current and past releases
    • Find latest .iso file release at top of list. Click and Save to disk. An ISO (pronounced EYE–so) file is an image of an optical disk's playable surface
    • Burn iso file to CD. Pretty much all CD burn software supports iso. Check your documentation (look for iso in the index or simply search for iso in the doc)
    To boot from CD
    • Power off. Disconnect all USB
    • Insert CD. Power on
      • BIOS boots from first device found containing bootable media. BIOS settings define the search order. Order should put CD before internal hard drive.
      • Some systems also provide a Boot Menu. When the boot device is manually selected via Boot Menu, the device search by BIOS is skipped
        ==> Check your system documentation for available methods
      • The CD boots into Linux (another Operating System). When prompted for startup values, hit Enter for defaults. Defaults work for most systems but you may need to select a non-default resolution if display problems occur with default
    Use Gparted to detect USB drive
    Device Names
    => Device Names – Linux device names start as either /dev/hd for IDE devices or /dev/sd for SCSI / USB
    => Device names for drives - Letters differentiate drives (/dev/had vs. /dev/hdb)
    => Device names for partitions - Digits differentiate the partitions on a drive (/dev/hdb1 and /dev/hdb2 are different partitions and on the same drive /dev/hdb)

    Quick USB detect test
    USB detect results are referenced by #. Result #’s are defined later below
    • Disconnect all USB
    • Boot from CD. Gparted’s first screen includes info about the partitions found on computer’s boot drive
    • Click Gparted->Devices. Identify other drives found at start up
    • Connect USB drive. Wait 30-60 seconds
    • Click Gparted->Refresh->Devices then Gparted->Devices
    • Does USB drive appear now? If yes, verify drive info is what you expect
      >> (eg. disk size, number and types of partitions) <<
    • If USB drive is now detected and drive info is correct see Detect Result #1 otherwise continue
    System-level USB detect test
    • Disconnect all USB. Reboot from CD. As above, verify which drives detected on boot
    • Open Linux window: double click window icon (top of Gparted window) type dmesg for system log
    • Connect USB drive
    • Open new Linux window, get system log. Compare new/old logs to find USB entries after connect. Verify new device name of USB device
    • Click Gparted->Refresh Devices then Gparted->Devices. Is USB device among the devices?
      => If USB drive is listed in Devices see Detect Result #1
      => If USB drive not listed in Devices and USB drive not found in system log see Detect Result #2
      => If USB drive not listed in Devices but USB drive does appear in system log see Detect Result #3
    USB Detect Results
    Different USB Detect results below along with indication what each means as likely problem source
    => USB Drive hardware can be: the internal disk, the case enclosure, AC power adapter, USB cable
    => Computer hardware can be: BIOS, internal boards, USB ports, etc.
    1. Drive detected by Gparted and recognized correctly
      Probably software issue, Windows or other software running (including a virus!)
      > Once Gparted sees the device name
      => you can use Gparted and TestDisk to manage partitions / attempt data repair or recovery
      => Still check system log for USB drive error messages as they may help identify problems if seeing the drive but incorrect partition info <

    2. Drive not found in system log or detected by Gparted
      Your drive isn’t even sensed by hardware. Could be USB Drive or Computer Hardware
    3. Drive found in system log but not seen by Gparted
      Sensed by hardware so computer tries reading. Log should reveal device errors (I/O, corruption, etc.) which are severe so Linux (and probably Windows) will not present the new device to other software to see/use. Problem is likely the USB drive or hardware or in system-level software (eg. drivers, driver filters, services)
    Using Testdisk
    => Connect USB drive
    => Open Linux window. Enter TestDisk
    => Follow tell prompts till choice of drives listed (along with drive’s info)
    => If USB drive not listed
    -----> Exit TestDisk
    -----> Unplug the drive. After a short wait reconnect the drive
    -----> Start TestDisk again
    What Next?
    Read through this thread for information on Software
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add New Comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...