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Question Hope for Raw drive recovery using Photorec

May 11, 2020
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I have a 256 GB hard disk that became raw after my laptop shut off suddenly while in use.
It had a separate 100 MB partition that survived. I've tried things like chkdsk, bootrec.exe,
windows 10 auto repair options at startup, startup recovery with a bootable USB drive among
other things i found online. I also tried trial versions of some data recovery programs like Easus,
Getdataback but no luck.

I'm now trying Photorec after I could not get far with testdisk. The raw partition was not showing,
only the 100 MB partition. And testdisk said the disk size had to be correct for successful recovery.
So I've been using Photorec for almost a week now. It started off well. It showed lots of tiny files recovered. These seem to be files from the browser cache, cookies and maybe program files. Non of the files I'm interested in. Like PDF documents, word documents, ZIP files, some videos and software.

Some days later I noticed that photorec was getting stuck. It would go 20 to 30 minutes and stop.
It appeared to be working but was not making any progress. The files recovered, the time elapsed
and time remaining would not change. The only way out was to close it and resume the process.
but the same thing would happen. And it would still recover more tiny files.

I'm starting to wonder if this is a lost cause. Perhaps I should let go and start over. I'd like to recover and get back to work but I'm loosing hope. I'd like your view on this. I'm not tech savvy. I just know how to use a computer, the internet and can try to solve some problems on my own.

I saw autopsy recommended, haven't tried it, they say it's a learning curve but download page says easy to use. I'm in a small town in Africa.
 
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You need to clone the drive with a tool that understands how to work with bad media. Try ddrescue of HDDSuperClone. Then run data recovery software against the clone.

Don't be tempted to "initialize" or format your RAW partition. SSDs support the TRIM command which will destroy your data permanently.

BTW, I'm assuming that your "256 GB hard disk" is actually an SSD.

Can you show us a SMART report with CrystalDiskInfo?
 
May 11, 2020
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You need to clone the drive with a tool that understands how to work with bad media. Try ddrescue of HDDSuperClone. Then run data recovery software against the clone.

Don't be tempted to "initialize" or format your RAW partition. SSDs support the TRIM command which will destroy your data permanently.

BTW, I'm assuming that your "256 GB hard disk" is actually an SSD.

Can you show us a SMART report with CrystalDiskInfo?
OK, I tried DDrescue on Ubuntu, after I got an error on windows that I could not resolve. It ran for almost 3 days now and is moving at a snails pace at 99.2% . I wanted to stop it there and take what it had recovered.

So I aborted it and tried to mount the image. But got an error that it couldn't mount the output file. That most probably the file system was damaged and I would need another tool to read it from there. OS doesn't support the file system, or that recovery is incomplete and can sometimes cause that problem.
 
May 11, 2020
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I had to try this on ubuntu where the image file is. That computer has enough space for the files. The windows PC has only 165 GB. The image file is 144 GB. I downloaded the zip file, extracted it and tried to run it using terminal with the command ./dmde as a root user. But I kept getting the error No such file or directory.

I was following the steps in this video
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJcC_bnsktw

I hoped I could copy the image file to the windows PC using an external hard disk case. But the partition with ubuntu showed up empty though there was used space.
 
May 11, 2020
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OK, after clicking around helplessly about to wind up for the day. I downloaded another copy and managed to start DMDE. Now I wish I had a guide I could follow. I think I've mounted the image file and can see some of the folders that were on the raw drive. I don't know how to proceed. I'd like to copy/recover the files I want to the desktop or some folder on the same drive. How can I do that?
 
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I don't use the Linux version, but the Windows version of DMDE is portable. Just extract all the files from the ZIP into a separate directory, and then launch the DMDE executable (DMDE.EXE in Windows).

DMDE should present the discovered partitions in a Partitions window. If you can recognise your desired partition, double-click it and expand the $Root. You can recover the desired files by r-clicking and selecting "Recover". The free version will only recover up to 4000 files in any directory.

If you don't see your desired file, then you will need to perform a full scan.

If you can show us DMDE's Partitions window, there may be a simpler solution.
 
May 11, 2020
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DMDE should present the discovered partitions in a Partitions window. If you can recognise your desired partition, double-click it and expand the $Root. You can recover the desired files by r-clicking and selecting "Recover". The free version will only recover up to 4000 files in any directory.
I can see the files I want. I've been recovering them today. The only trouble is that it wont recover folders but rather the individual files. So I have to open them and copy the files inside to another folder I create with the same name. I hope to finish this tomorrow.

Thank you,
You have saved me a lot of trouble.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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You have saved me a lot of trouble.
Whatever recovery you come up with...please take this as a heads up to institute a good backup routine.
Doesn't have to be expensive or extensive.
But your data should never be at the mercy of a single drive and possible recovery software.

Various free tools and external USB drive can save the entirety of your drive(s). Slot in a new drive to replace a dead (or corrupted) one, and recover completely.
 
May 11, 2020
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Whatever recovery you come up with...please take this as a heads up to institute a good backup routine.
Doesn't have to be expensive or extensive.
But your data should never be at the mercy of a single drive and possible recovery software.

Various free tools and external USB drive can save the entirety of your drive(s). Slot in a new drive to replace a dead (or corrupted) one, and recover completely.
Yes. I remembered how I kept putting it off and thought I'd soon afford a better computer sooner. This was an entry level laptop. The drive had a separate partition and everything there survived. I'd basically forgotten it existed.

I was reading about good back up media while struggling with this whole thing. I might have to settle for an SSD external hard drive. That is what is locally available. At least that I know of. There aren't many ecommerce websites left that will ship to my country under the covid disruptions.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
126,131
4,431
159,940
19,754
Yep. "I'll get around to it" is far too common.

A storage device is actually two things. The physical drive, and your personal data on that drive.
The drive is (mostly) trivially replaced. Your data is not.

Trying to "fix" a corrupted drive, or worse a physically damaged one, AND keep your data 100% intact is often an exercise in frustration. Especially if it is your first time doing it.
And often, the drive is simply dead and gone.

A full drive backup image means no data is lost, can't forget about "that other folder'.
Slot in a new drive, recover from the backup Image, and off you go.
The problem drive can then be fixed (or tossed) as needed.

Your data should never be hostage to a single physical drive.
 

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