Question Data Recovery - Word Document Recovered, But Text Illegible

Biledriver

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Aug 18, 2013
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Hello and thank you in advance for any help and direction.

Objective: I need to recover the content of a word document.

Backstory: My Mom's laptop is dysfunctional and basically it rebooted and her Windows 10 looked like a new install and all her folders were cleaned-out, and it continued to do this seemingly every time it rebooted for updates/etc. Luckily, it initially saved them in a profile in Users so I was able to recover a lot of her stuff just searching folders. It only seemed to make this profile once so after that the laptop would still wipe itself but it would not add any new content to the profile, everything was effectively lost that was created in that timeframe. So the issue is this, basically she had a Word document (a poem) and it is now lost because Windows wiped everything, and it wasn't backed-up in time.

Progress/Trials
: [Working remotely though TeamView] When I opened Word I could see the file in the history but it would not open, and I could not find the file normally (looking in files, searching folders, looking at previous versions of folders - rarely were any). [Laptop now in my possession] I Googled and found EaseUS Data Recovery. I took it for a spin and to my excitement it did locate the file. A Word document with the right name showing about 16 kb size. However, it seems to be corrupt and won't open properly:
  • If I open it normally it gives an error message and shows no content.
  • I tried "Open and Repair" but it does the same thing.
  • I tried opening it with "Recover Text from Any File" and it opens a word document with gibberish/symbols throughout and also a error message. Question: Are these symbols typically random and irrelevant or are they code that could be directly translated back?
  • Also tried opening with Notepad and Notepad++ but all the text is gibberish.
  • I downloaded and tried Stellar Repair for Word and used it on the document but it says "Invalid file format" and says the document is severely damaged.
Currently: I got some hope actually finding the document but it is quickly dwindling, I don't know what to do next. I don't like throwing in the personal details but I am desperate here - my Mom is suffering from ALS and time is short. She started writing poems and messages while she still can and then this happened, and she believes I can get it back. I tried everything I knew, I am now researching and finding the methods I didn't know, but I will look at anything to get it back as long as it works, I don't care if it requires paid services or software.

I thought most of what I encountered was probably typical but I can get screenshots of whatever is needed to provide more info.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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This is specifically what proactive backups are for.

A word .docx is actually a compressed/zipped file. Word unzips as it opens.
Notepad++ simply sees the compressed gibberish.

Is this similar to what you see in Notepad++?
 

Biledriver

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This is specifically what proactive backups are for.
Yes indeed. A moot point now unfortunately, but I tried to get her to back up everything and even work from the files within the flash drives.

A word .docx is actually a compressed/zipped file. Word unzips as it opens.
Notepad++ simply sees the compressed gibberish.

Is this similar to what you see in Notepad++?
Yes that is effectively what I get when I tried opening the document with Notepad and Notepad++.
 

Biledriver

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Thanks for the reply USAFRet.

That is the raw contents of a non corrupted Word doc, opened directly in Notepad++.
So are you saying if I open my file in Notepad and get the similar gibberish it at least means that the raw content exists and isn't corrupted?

Unless you can capture a whole file and open it in Word...it will be useless.
I am not quite following. The scan came up with the .docx file I was looking for and the only other files it found for it were shortcuts. The file path for the document was C:\Lost Files\#1 Lost Partition(NTFS)\Users\TEMP\Documents - I am not sure if that adds any value.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Thanks for the reply USAFRet.


So are you saying if I open my file in Notepad and get the similar gibberish it at least means that the raw content exists and isn't corrupted?


I am not quite following. The scan came up with the .docx file I was looking for and the only other files it found for it were shortcuts. The file path for the document was C:\Lost Files\#1 Lost Partition(NTFS)\Users\TEMP\Documents - I am not sure if that adds any value.
A partial .docx file is probably not going to work.
 

DSzymborski

Polypheme
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Sorry, I don't think I am on the same page yet. What makes my document a partial word document? If it is partial, is there a way I can recover my full word document? Thanks again.
It's missing key elements that make it a full file that can be opened and read. It's unfortunate, but having a backup is likely the only way to ever recover this file if a tool like Stellar Phoenix can't correct it.
 

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