Recovering your data from your hard drive might be easier than you think! Off course I am referring to software and operating system problems. If your hard drive is physically damaged then no software can help you recover your data. I highly recommend you see a professional to recover your data if your data is vital. If your data is not vital and you want to save your money and learn something new by trying to retrieve your data from a damaged hard drive click here for a few tips.
There are numerous software's and a few freeware's to help you recover your data . All the software's are commercial and cost money. On the other hand most freeware's are limited in what they allow you to recover. Yes, companies know that people are willing to pay money to recover their Data.
Good news there are only a few free and unrestricted data recovery softwares, and we should be able to recover your data with them. Note that I am in no way affiliated with any of these software's and products.
Continue reading to understand how to recover your data.
Understanding Data Recovery.
1) The Master Boot Record (MBR) and partition table are found in the first sector of your hard drive.
They determine which partition(s) on the disk are bootable and use that information to boot the operating system.
If your MBR or partition table is corrupted, the drive will become un bootable, and may appear to be blank if the partition information has been erased.
2) The first file on a NTFS partition is the Master File Table(MFT). MFT is basically a list of the names,
properties and locations of all the files in the partition.
The Master File Table is used by the operating system to access files.
When you delete a file and then remove it from the recycle bin, the operating system
simply marks the file as deleted in the Master File Table .
In both cases, the good news is that the data is not actually erased, but rather
the space it takes up on the disk is now considered to be free.To prevent the operating system from overwriting on your data,
Do not save or write anything on your Hard Drive!
Recovering your Data.
There are 3 things we need to do to recover the data. First is to boot the computer, second a recovery software and third we need somewhere to transfer the data to. I'll give you several ways to do that so you can recover your data the way it is easier for you. I will begin with the most recommended ones.
Option 1 - Transfer Hard Drive to another Computer.
If you have access to another computer, put your Hard Drive in as a Slave (Change jumper Settings). Boot computer from the Master Hard Drive. Look for your files with the file explorer. If you cannot find your files click here to go to the next step.
Option 2 - Windows XP Boot Floppy.
- Place a floppy disk in the floppy drive.
- Click on My Computer, right click the A: drive and click Format.
- In the Format window, check Create an MS-DOS startup disk.
Remember not to save anything on the hard drive that needs data recovery. If you will be using the boot floppy, then you need to unzip the file and burn the content on a CD-ROM.
Data Recovery Process.
Boot the computer (either floppy or Master hard drive) and run the testdisk_win.exe that is in the win directory (just double click on the file in windows xp. If you have booted from the floppy type d:\testdisk-6.5\win\testdisk_win.exe).
Choose No Log.
Select your physical drive and Proceed.
For windows XP select Intel.
You can press p to see a list of files in the partition :-)
Press q to come back to the data recovery screen.
Select write. Your data is being recovered!
I hope that nothing was overwritten and you have recovered your data. If you couldn't find your data, and you are sure that your hard drive is not failing (I have seen a hard drive crash because of cheap unstable 250W power supply) you might have to consider a professional data recovery software with much more elaborate algorithms. Here is a list of Data Recovery Softwares
If you came to this page because of boot partitions issues, and this couldn't help you, then you need to re-install Windows XP.
Data Recovery from a failed Hard Drive.
Again if your data is vital, call a professional data recovery service. If you are willing to destroy your dat while attempting to recover then this section is for you. Remember that you cannot open your hard drive. The dust in the air will render it unrecoverable.
Check the environment.
Look for an environmental factor that may interfere with the functioning of your hard drive. Are there magnets on the computer case close to the hard drive? Is there a fan or heater near the computer? Is there a transformer, electrical box, or high power device near the computer (on a floor above or in a nearby wall)? All of these will produce magnetic and/or electromagnetic fields that can interfere with your hard drive. Equipment that may vibrate the computer even at a very low amplitude can resonate and cause hard drive heads to skip and jump or even scratch the platters.
No kidding! Put your hard drive in a sealed bag in the freezer for a couple of hours. Meanwhile get another hard drive (faster than CD or DVD in case you have gigabits of data to recover). Do that fast while it is cold and still working. You have about 20 min!
Shake, hit and drop your hard drive.
I warned you! We are going to try to reset any mechanical dislocation. Shake the hard drive vigorousely and try it. Drop the hard drive on a hard surface on its top. Sometimes it is the heads that are stuck to the platters. Try hitting your hard drive a few times to reset any mechanical dislocation. Again this works very often but not for long. So be fast, be prepared.
We hope that by now you have recovered your data. Do not hesitate to visit our Data Recovery Forum if you have any further questions.