New to disk rescue, need some help. Already tried some steps but probably made things worse. Please advise.

How to use TestDisk to recover lost partition
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Baza
Posts: 2
Joined: 01 Feb 2020, 10:05

New to disk rescue, need some help. Already tried some steps but probably made things worse. Please advise.

#1 Post by Baza »

Hello,

first of all, thanks for this great software. But I am completely new to rescuing disks and I need some help. I hope this is the correct place to post this, if not please excuse me.
I will try to include as many details as I can, sorry if this is going to be a long post, you can always skip to the end (the in-between steps might not matter anymore).

I have a SSD with Windows and programs (C:), and a HDD for files (size 1TB). The HDD started acting up (not letting me access certain files) and I suspected that it might be faulty.

1.) I used Google to find a program that would tell me if this is the case. It recommended TestDisk and I used it on both disks. It found errors on the HDD, but I cant remember exactly what it said. It also found something about wrong number of cylinders on C:, but I dont know how serious that is. C: still works.

2.) Next day I ran TestDisk on the HDD again. It worked for like an hour and reached 48%. I let it work for several more hours but it didnt seem to make any progress. I'm not sure because the percentage was still at 48%, though I felt that the number of "Read Error at" was different, but I couldnt be sure. I took a picture:
Image
(If the image doesnt work, try the link: https://pasteboard.co/ISE09wr.png)
and then, probably stupidly, closed the program. I'm sorry but I didnt know any better :(

2.) I was advised to try using Hard Disk Sentinel to see if the disk was actually faulty. I did, and this is what it said:
Image
(if the image doesnt work, try the link: https://pasteboard.co/ISE481M.png)
(It said that my C: disk was in perfect condition, so I wasnt too worried about the cylinder number errors from TestDisk. Was I wrong?)

3.) I purchased a new 1TB SSD to replace my obviously-fauly HDD. Was advised by a colleague to remove the old disk from my laptop, install the new one first, and then copy over the data, which might have been good advice if the problem was with my C: disk, but in my case I think it might have been a mistake because I'm not 100% sure that I didnt make the old disk's condition worse by removing it, despite being very very careful when handling it. Probably would have been better to plug the new one on the Sata adapter to the USB and copy the files first, then remove the old disk and install the new one. But I switched out the disks first and then plugged the old one on the Sata-USB adapter.

4.) In Windows, I copied my Pictures folder and pasted it to the new disk. The copying came to about half way when Windows told me that it had encountered an error with a specific file, and gave me the option to skip that file, so I did, thinking it must be corrupt anyway. The other pictures finished copying succesfully. I tried copying other files and folders too, but it wouldnt work anymore - the "Preparing to copy" window would pop up, and then disappear, and nothing would happen. Figuring that the rest of the disk was too corrupt, I went to Google again to find a program that would help me recover files from a corrupt disk.

5.) Google recommended Recuva, which I installed, and my first move was to try recovering my Pictures folder, to see if it can recover that one file that I skipped earlier. I let it work for a while, but then noticed it's stuck about half way, but unlike Windows, it didnt tell me which file it was stuck on, nor did it let me skip that file. So I let it work for a couple more hours, but it didnt make any progress, so then I gave up and closed it.
I checked to see what files it actually managed to recover/copy, and I found that it was quite a lot, but, they were all in the same folder :( As in, it didnt keep the folder structure. I now know that there's an option in Recuva that makes it keep the folder structure, but I didnt know it then :(

6.) Went back to Google to find a program that could keep the folder structure, and I found that it would probably be better to clone the entire drive. Google recommended EaseUS Todo. I tried it, let it work for an entire day, but it also encountered some errors (I guess) because it got stuck at some point and after I gave up on hope, I closed it (sorry but I dont have screenshots of this step). Of course the side effect of this was that my new disk had to be formatted, so I lost even the pictures I was able to save with Windows in step 4.

7.) Found out that Recuva can keep folder structure, so I thought I'd give it another go. But when I tried to scan the disk, it told me it is "Unable to determine file system type", and at the same time Windows told me that the disk is unformatted and asked if I'd like to format it. I said no, and went back to Google to help find a solution.

8.) Found out that EaseUS also makes a Partition Recovery tool that could help. I installed it and let it work for a few hours, it reached 82% and got stuck there. I left it overnight and it was still stuck at 82%. I couldnt see anything else because a popup was in the way, telling me I can double click a partition to preview its content. I double clicked one partition and the program froze (it said Not Responding). I waited for an hour and then closed the program. I decided to try again and opened it up, it told me I can continue the interruped process, and it continued from 81% on. Soon it reached 82% again and got stuck, but I left it overnight again and more, after about 24 hours it finally reached 83%, so I let it run. It took almost 4 full days to reach 100%, and came up with this:
Image
(if the image doesnt work, try the link: https://pasteboard.co/ISEhQFJ.png)
I dont know what the 4 small partitions are or where they came from. E: is my main partition that I need recovered (and G: is what Windows created for system restore (I think)). However, if I tick E: or G: (or both), the Proceed button is grayed out and it wont let me proceed. As soon as I tick one of the 4 small partitions, E: gets automatically unticked, and it tells me that "it conflicts with existing partitions" (as shown in the screenshot). The Proceed button was clickable though, but when I clicked it, I found out that I must purchase the full version of the program, so I frustratedly closed it (I wouldnt want to recover only these small partitions anyway).

9.) Another colleague advised me that Recuva can be set up to scan unformatted space too. I told him I cant find that option anywhere, if he could tell me where exactly it is. I even Googled it, but found no answers as to how to do that. I only found answers from people recommending to use TestDisk & PhotoRec instead, or to do a Quick Format on the disk and then try to recover files with Recuva, which I also mentioned to this colleague. After waiting for him for a couple of days to get back to me on the Recuva settings, he did reply, but made absolutely no mention of Recuva in his reply, only saying that he would also recommed TestDisk & PhotoRec (which I assume means that he was wrong and Recuva doesnt actually have this option), and that he thinks that I only have one more try to rescue my data (at most).

10.) I dont want to screw this one try up. I remembered that I already used TestDisk, so I dug up the screenshot, sent it to him, and asked him if he thinks its worth trying again. I also read that TestDisk & PhotoRec will not keep original file names or the folder structure, which sounds very scary to me. I'll end up with 800 gigs of unsorted, unnamed data that I'll have no way of knowing where it belongs. Sure, I might be able to pick out the pictures, and I might be able to sort them into folders (even if it's going to take me a LOT of time to do so), but any other files? I'd have no idea what to do with them. So I asked my colleague if he thinks it would be better for me to try PhotoRec anyway and deal with the unsorted mass of files, or if I dare try to Quick Format the disk to maybe give Recuva a chance. Well, I havent been able to reach him for a week, so I decided to try and find some better advice here.

I'm sorry, I know its a lot of information, but I'm not sure which of it is important for further steps and which isnt. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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cgrenier
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Re: New to disk rescue, need some help. Already tried some steps but probably made things worse. Please advise.

#2 Post by cgrenier »

Do not format your disk!
The best way to recover your data is to clone it to a new empty disk (can be larger) using ddrescue as described in https://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk.pdf
Once it's done, remove the original disk and try to recover your data from the clone.

Baza
Posts: 2
Joined: 01 Feb 2020, 10:05

Re: New to disk rescue, need some help. Already tried some steps but probably made things worse. Please advise.

#3 Post by Baza »

Thanks for the reply!

I didnt want to format the disk, it's just that I've read that Quick Format doesnt actually delete anything, just restores the file system, so that recovery software can then recover the files. Seemed risky but wasnt sure what else to try.
Thank you for your suggestion, I've looked into the instructions and I'm not going to pretend I understand all of it right away. I'm an average Windows user, I have never used Linux or macOS in my life. I will try to follow the instructions (and will need to get another disk too), but wanted to clear something up first: considering that I already ran disk cloning software on the disk, and I'm not sure if it actually failed, or if I stopped it to early, but I wonder if it would be better to run that again (or another Windows-compatible software, cause those instructions seem mighty scary to someone who never used Linux before).

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