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Hard drive recovery, windows and all, help

By merlinsteve ยท 20 replies
Jun 12, 2009
  1. Hi again
    I have a HP dv8000 with a 320 GB HDD.
    I used to have a windowe partition, a recovery partition and the main data partioion. now I have only 1 single partition with slightly less than 300GB.
    The computer was in for repair and thew erer told not to format it. They are swapping between telling me that they didn't format it and that it must have just happened when my motherboard died to telling me that the data is my responsibility.
    I have told them that they either formatted it or put the wrong drive in and they are adament that they have done nither.
    this isn't helping me though.
    I have basically lost a bucket load of data and my factory installed windows. I know it should have been backed up but whenever I tride, it would crash for some reason or tell me that i needed 30 DVD's.
    I need to recover my files and would also like to get my windows back as I can't afford to replace it.
    does anyone have any ideas on whether this can be done??
    thanks alot
  2. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,309


    tricky this...the shop that fixed it would have told you that any data on the drive would be lost, this is common practice and you are always advised to back up any data to an external source on a regular basis.

    However, if they are asked not to format the drive and they have then again the fault lies with yourself, you should have removed the drive before sending it in for repair, any good repair shop will use a test HDD to make sure the unit is working.

    Unless you have it on paper that you asked them to do a non destructive repair then you are in a state of loss.

    However...you also say that their is now no windows installed on the drive, is this correct, by rights a repair means that the unit comes back to you in a working condition including software that was on the drive, even if the shop have swapped the drive, it would be down to them reinstall windows and ensure it was in a working condition, as this is what you have paid for.

    But your first port of call might be to a citizens advice bureau for further help and then trading standards, you might get the cost of the repair back on the basis the unit was returned unworking however on the point of the lost data, you wouldnt be able to claim for that.
  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Buy a good external drive box... I recommend a Nextar 3. You can find them for $20 to $30 at Newegg, www.directron.com, zipzoomfly.com and a lot of other stores. You will need a small philips screwdriver to install it... Then put your HP DV8000 drive in this enclosure... if it is still running, you can then attach it to another computer via a USB 2.0 cable... You should be able to "see" the drive as an E:, F: or other drive on your computer of choice.
    You can then drag and drop all your folders to your regular computer drive.
    If they are not there, you can use recovery software to find them, but with the first letter of each file changed.

    It will take you anywhere from four to 10 hours, but you should be able to rescue all the files... BUT NOT THE INSTALLED Programs. ONce you have re-installed the original programs using your original installation discs, you can then open your original files you have rescued, and rename them or whatever you need to do.

    It is easy once you get the hang of it... or you can hire somebody to do it for a cost of about $65 to $85 an hour for however many hours it takes... This original drive in a nextstar 3 or other external inclosure acts just like an extra drive on your computer. Your computer Windows will name the drive letter, but that will possibly change if you move it to another computer.

    Your questions?

    Good luck.
  4. merlinsteve

    merlinsteve TS Rookie Topic Starter

    THanks for that Raybay.
    The computer shop was asked to fix my computer and they asked if they could format the HDD and i told them I couldn't back it up. they agreed to not format the drive but at no time informed me that the data was my responsibility or advised me to retain the drive. I have spoken to and showed a few teck savvy people and all of them agree that the state my drive is in could NOT have happened any other way than deliberately formatting.

    I know that you really aren't in a position to comment only hearing my side of the story but I get the feeling that they are just trying to get more money out of me. the problem is though they immediately blamed my motherboard saying that it had a different firmware if chipset etc. they arbitrarily dismissed any other possibilities. The shop advertises at 3 unis that I know of and it wasn't until i threatened to tell people at the unis who I know that they decided that they would graciously get windoes working but before that they were not interested and said that they had done the job and that they weren't responsible for getting the computer working, just install the motherboard.
    I suppose this is 1 for small claims because I have lost all my programs, including windows which was installed on the drive from the factory.
    anyway, this dosn't get my data back soon....
    can you please tell me the names of some suitable programs to recover the info??
    Ps I will keep you informed as to how this progresses

  5. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Sounds as if some technician just formatted it anyway... perhaps by mistake... No company I know would bother to do that without permission... Their insurance company and backers would deal harshly with them. If repaired by HP, they would NOT have formatted the drive.
    Perhaps someone used a Windows disk to repair some aspect.
    The drive you got back may not even be the same drive you sent in... they may have replaced it for repairs and lost track of the orginal drive.
    There a many repairs that could have taken place that could have destroyed partitions or sectors.... particularly to Windows... but the location where data was stored should still be recoverable... if the drive was indeed good (it is possible that the drive itself was defective.)
    However, depending on how the formatting was performed, if they did return the drive, most data can be recovered. We do it here all the time. A good shop has the software and the rig to do it, and the user can often do it at home using simple low cost software, or free "recovery" software.
    I would buy a new drive to install, and do nothing with the old one until you have the time to run a recovery.
    As for claims there are usually none. All repair centers I know of send information to the user that they will not be responsible for any data on the hard drive. Even the high end repairs of IBM and Lenovo make you sign something that removes any responsibility from the repair shop... When we send computers in for warranty repair, we remove the hard drive, because the risk is so high, and a hard drive only costs a repair shop about $36 when bought in volume.
    If your drive WAS formatted, the data can be recovered IF the relevant sectors were not overwritten... If there was no "security" format (which does multiple read and write formats as high as 36 times) then the data can be recovered.
    Just ask the FBI... they can recover anything. We can easily recover most data files (even if formatted) for Microsoft Office, Qucken, email accounts, Tax and accounting files, images, photos,... but not always windows files... and most shops can... though few want to do so because it ties up shop computers and technician time.
    Usually the kind of software you find on Major Geeks.com will do it... just do not stop until done
  6. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +186

    Couple other tips:
    • Always backup your HD before giving it for repairs. Period.
    • Use Acronis True Image (or similar) to create a sector-by-sector backup image to preserve the current HD image so you get EVERYTHING backed up including unallocated sectors (which may really contain useful data when a computer needs repair - especially if your disk is the reason you need repair in the first place)
    • Just like any repair or construction project, get it in writing (even if that means simply stating "notify user before any reformatting/potential destruction of data"
    • Understand that hearing "Hardware problem. Replace it" is what you're going to hear a lot from repair shops - whether they believe it or not or really even know better or not.
      • It's a common first knee jerk reaction.
      • When it comes down to their time and your $$$ it's simplest to REPLACE a piece of hardware vs. diagnose and dig into software and Windows internals.
      • It can be harder (sometimes much harder but not always alot harder) to diagnose/fix software. Plus being able to dig into and fixing software can require alot more knowledge of Windows applications and Windows internals then how to simply replace a piece of hardware (and since repair times vs. what it will cost you in $$ is also an issue) it might well be far more economical for you as well
      • Tho is still best that you should be still be aware of the trade-offs, issues, etc. facts up front

    As for recovering data, moving the HD to a separate enclosure is a good idea. But a still simpler first step (which is sometimes sufficient and doesn't require you even move or physically touch your HD)
    • Important to avoid writing anything / changing drive contents before attempting recovery
    • One easier and simple method of first trying to copy/move any files that still exist
      • Use another computer to download and burn Knoppix. Use a Knoppix 6 iso file and burn to CD
      • Now simply boot from CD and run Knopix (a variant of the Linux Operatins System). Its user interface is intuitive so you easily find your way around
      • Open its File Explorer to now simply view the contents on your HD. Plug in a USB flash drive copy/paste what you want to save/move from HD to USB
    P.S. There are also Knoppix based recovery tools but i've never used them to advise which to use or if knoppix tools are any better or worse then Windows based tools

    Bottom line: have the Knoppix CD in your "box of tools" for this and other problems is IMHO also good advice
  7. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +186

    just re-read your post and note you are looking for specific help for recovery NOW
    >> Again, note that each write attempt to the disk potentially helps reduce any chance of recovery of already lost data
    >> So i make another good case (recommend) investing in Acronis and first start with a sector-by-sector copy (so you preserve your current disk state as is as you move forward and try to recover it but still can get back to where it is right now in time). Now way to tell if it's already too late.. but still worth buying and starting to use now for NORMAL backups as well!

    Somethings to try
    >> Use Gparted and Testdisk tools to determine if lost data is actually in lost partitions you might be able to recover. See [post=720766]How to boot from a G-Parted-Live-CD[/post]

    And a couple tools (i haven't used but have heard good things about)
    >> Ontrack Getdataback
    >> Recuva
  8. mrturtle

    mrturtle TS Rookie Posts: 41

    Recuva's definitely saved me before.
  9. merlinsteve

    merlinsteve TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I really appreciate your help on this guys.
    I have organised to go to a mates place this week to have a shot at recovery through his computer, I will deffinately follow your advice and back it up first. I will also now have another hard drive to back up onto. all in all, i think it comes down to a hard lesson to learn!
    thanks again
  10. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +186

    And, again, to be clear: You must use a tool like a acronis where you set the backup option for Sector-by-Sector copy before running the backup of your complete hard drive
  11. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    My advice would be to remove the hard drive and keep it safe, while doing a clean install on a different drive... Install ALL the software that is involved with any of the data on the "saved" drive , so you know where that data can go.
    Fix the net setup. Make sure everything works the way it should.
    Then once you are certain everything works well on the new s etup, put the drive with all your valuable data into a USB External Enclosure. Then be careful to assure it cannot be dropped or bumped with lateral impact.
    Then you can "look" at the old drive in the enclosure. Drag and drop a copy of all your data to the new setup.
    Save the old drive in the enclosure entil you are certain you have copied everything you could possibly need. Then put it away in a safe place until you know the new drive works well. Make a backup on DVD's or CD's from the new drive... so you have multiple copies for security purposes.

    Once you have everything working well, you can use the USB external drive for anything you wish including backing up additional drives in the future.
    Good luck.
  12. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,415   +145

    Haha, best buy is full of BS ^^.

    I think some linux distro's come with this program default, but it is called TestDisk and also has a PhotoRecover program or something with it.
  13. merlinsteve

    merlinsteve TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi again
    the sage is continuing....
    I have meen able to get most?? of my data recovered. I was unable to retrieve windows. All my data is now on an external HDD whilst I figure how to fix the computer properly but there is a bit of a hitch!!!!
    As I lost my copy of windows and i don't want to run pirate software, I hafe been forced to try out windows 7...
    Unfortunately this has just increased the problem count 10 fold.
    I can't seem to get drivers that work. I have downloaded the vista drivers off the HP website for my laptop (DV8308tx) and they keep crashing windows. I have no touch pad, no sound, I am atempting to download the nvidia drivers again as I type, (the nvidia drivers say that they are for windows 7????)
    Can anyone suggest where I may be able to get the drivers from?

    also if there was any doubt over the quality of job done, there is 1 other small problem.
    I Had previously increased the ram to the limit that it would detect (3 GB), I now only have 2GB. I have opened up the case and sure enough, the ram is NOT what i took it into the store with. it is actually "Genuine" HP Ram complete with the re order stickers. My ram was purchased from a swap meet and was NOT genuine HP labelled.
    so with this in mind and the troubles caused over the Hard drive, I am in the process od applying for the case to be heard by the administrative appeals tribunal where I will be asking for the shop to pay for the cost of replacing windows and getting it working properly and reinstalling all the drivers, programs etc as well as for the cost of recovery etc. I will also put in a claim for compo for the lost data and the time it has cost me!
    I will keep you all informed how it goes.
    thanks for all the help
  14. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    You neglected to tell us anything about your computer system... motherboard, operating system, etc.
    Your success on a claim will be minimal... Unless you are a certified tech, or an employed tech, your time costs cannot be recovered.
    Since you cannot keep track of your own disks, you will have to convince the administrative appeals hearing officer that you are competent to have your hands inside the case.
    The drivers are available... unfortunately at a cost.
    If you are using VISTA, the Windows 7 Drivers will work. But otherwise, you will likely need to download individually from each manufactuer: Chipset from the motherboard manufacturer - Video grom the video graphics manufacturer, audio from audio manufacturer or Audio Chipset maker, modem, ethernet drivers are available from their manufacturers... and so it goes.
    There are only a few touchpad manufacturers, and you can get that info off your exising touch pad...

    But how about just getting it all from the company who built your machine? HP

    Did you have this repaired by an HP-certified shop? Is it under warranty? That is why they replace the memory with official HP memory.
  15. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,415   +145

    Um...have fun, make sure to get them for time spent asking them for help :).
  16. merlinsteve

    merlinsteve TS Rookie Topic Starter

    gettting required info
  17. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +186

    Have you tried contacting HP to buy a set of recovery/installation disks for your dv8000 that match whatever original Windows version had been installed?

    /* EDIT*/
    See Order Recovery Discs for Windows Vista or XP
  18. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Read your agreement.
  19. merlinsteve

    merlinsteve TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I will deffinately try to get recovery disks again as this would most likley solve the problem, i just really don't want to spend any more cash, I have already spens more than I had and as a student will not be bale to recover from this for ages financially!
    as for the info on the computer.
    DV8000 Exact model No and the 1 I have to use to download drivers DV8308tx.
    The motherboard is the 430180-001.
    Origionally I was running Xp, that is what i took it to the shop with.
    I have downloaded the pre release of windows 7.
    I have attempted to download the drivers from HP site with the above info and they keep crashing the computer and forcing a recovery on restart.
    I have also gone to most of the divice manyfacturers but they don't seem to have windows 7 drivers yet hence the problem. I have managed to get everything working except the touch pad and the audio. the touchpad is saying that it is ok but just dosn't work and the audio is saying "this divice failed to start (code 10))

    My computer is not under warrenty and i replaced the ram a month after it ran out. I use this computer for CAD and various other programs and as such have juiced it up to what it could take. I purchased quicker ram and initially tried 4 GB but the computer would only address 3 so we used a 2 GB and a 1 GB stick instead of having 1 gb just taking power. this was done at a swapmeet.

    With regards to putting the wrong ram in, i don't think it was a malicious act, merely carelessness, probably the same carelessness that saw my hard drive re partitioned and formatted!
    I have to say, the thing that has got me really angry about this it the lack of customer service, I have had mechanics ring me to say we just found.... and i have said Oah..... ok what will it cost. but i hate having to chase and not getting any return phone calls and having to ring them a week after each "Due" date that they have given me only then to discover that there are issues.
    As fro the issues. the first thing they said was that it was the chipset... then it was the firmware, then it was that the board was different from the origional (Despite the photos of serial numbers on the old board sent to the supplier before they would ship the new board).
    It was basically "You supplied a dud board and that isn't out problem" after arguing with them for an hour they graciously offered to get my windows working for me for $50 but I had to take it home and back it up. that is when I found the formatted drive. their answer to that was "well data is your responsibility"
    the invoice dosn't mention this anywhere and I was not told nor did i sign anything.
    sorry back to the ram.
    IF there was an issue with the ram then I would EXPECT a phone call. Personally if it was dud then I would also EXPECT to pay for it too not just have it replaced.'
    the fact is though it has been replaced with lesser quality and quantity and they have neglected to inform me of this.

    I am also a qualified electronics technician and have worked for several years before coming back to uni on very sensitive scientific instrumentation.
    I dicided to pay someone to do this job because i don't have any specific computer ecperience and especially with laptops. I thought it was way better to spend my government stimulus money and be guarentied that i got a good job and that I didn't muff it up.... stupid me.
    I have paied for the data recovery an dthis is what i am expecting to be refunded. personally if they were to say we stuffed up, give us your computer and we will re install the progeams and give you another copy of windows to replace the 1 we deleted and replace the ram then I would jump at it. but because they are continually making up excuses to blame me, I am out for blood. I know that my time is worthless in the eyes of the court but I will still ask for it.
    in the end all I want it my computer fixed as I specified when I handed it over to the supposed professionals.
  20. merlinsteve

    merlinsteve TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Why do the words Phone call come up highlighted ad underlined???? i didn't intend that.
    when I took the computer into HP whilst under warrenty for repairs, I had to sign a form specifically stating whether they were allowed to wipe the hard drive. this form was taped to the top of the computer, how easy is that? no arguements then!
    even when the hard drive died a few weeks after purchase, I still had to sign the form, i said to the teck, "the drive is dead anyway, and there is nothing on it why do i need to sign this?" He replied standard procedure. now i understand why.
  21. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Talk to HP tech support during a non-busy time of day. There have been reports that HP knows some of the DV... series are bad, and they have made strong efforts to correct the problem.

    Worth a call... between 6 a.m and 6 p.m. central time... but not on saturdays or mondays
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