A little help, please? File recovery from drive with damaged system

Using PhotoRec to recover lost data
Forum rules
When asking for technical support:
- Search for posts on the same topic before posting a new question.
- Give clear, specific information in the title of your post.
- Include as many details as you can, MOST POSTS WILL GET ONLY ONE OR TWO ANSWERS.
- Post a follow up with a "Thank you" or "This worked!"
- When you learn something, use that knowledge to HELP ANOTHER USER LATER.
Before posting, please read https://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk.pdf
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Oct 2016, 07:34

A little help, please? File recovery from drive with damaged system

#1 Post by TinyTina »

Hello everyone,
hopefully someone can give me some advice, I am not a very technical person.

My old computer system had some sort of voltage problem from the power supply, combined with something wrong with the video card, which ended up causing damage to the C drive. I suspect the causes of my hard drive problem are not as important as what happened....it killed my C drive. Couldn't boot up anymore.

So I switched to an old backup computer. I removed the dead C drive from my main computer, and put it into an external USB case, and then connected it to the old backup computer to see if I could recover the data, which is pretty important, and that's an understatement. Anyway, my backup computer could "see" the old C drive was connected via USB, and it recognized the capacity, which was 2TB. However, in the disc-management program (Windows XP sp3), it showed the dead C drive as completely empty. Which of course, it isn't. Plus, when attempting to explore the dead drive, it slowed my system down to a crawl.

So here's my question: Is PhotoRec the right program to use? There are so many, it's impossible for a non-technical person like myself to know which data-recovery program will work best.

I have a very strong feeling that the drive is physically/mechanically OK, but that the file system, or "file table", or whatever it is called...was damaged, but all the data is still there....I think. (hope, actually)

I just bought a new 2TB hard drive to transfer all the data onto.

But, how do I proceed? PhotoRec says it can actually repair damaged file systems. So before I attempt transferring those files from the old C drive, should I first attempt to fix the file system?

I'm sure there is a recommended set of procedures for people in this situation, but I am not experienced in these things. If someone out there has some advice, I'd be very appreciative.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Sponsored links

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 5327
Joined: 18 Feb 2012, 15:08
Location: Le Perreux Sur Marne, France

Re: A little help, please? File recovery from drive with damaged system

#2 Post by cgrenier »

I think there are bad sectors on your disk. The best way to recover your data is probably to create a Linux Live USB (ie. fedora), install ddrescue and clone your disk to a new empty one, once it's done, remove the old disk and try to recover your data from the clone using PhotoRec if TestDisk, Advanced, List failed to list your data.
Read https://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk.pdf for more details. This pdf is not very user friendly, I am working on it - rewritten chapters are welcome.

Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Oct 2016, 07:34

Re: A little help, please? File recovery from drive with damaged system

#3 Post by TinyTina »

thanks for taking the time to reply.

Oh dear, that's bad news. That sounds way beyond my abilities, unfortunately. I had hoped that one of these cgsecurity programs would be able to both "see" all the files on the drive, and then also allow me to drag and drop them onto the new hard drive (of the same size) which I bought for this purpose. Much of what you suggested, I am completely unfamiliar with.

As mentioned, the hard drive was working fine, until this voltage problem.

Is it not at least worth a try, to use one of the cgcurity programs before attempting this very complicated method you suggest? With my extremely low level of technical experience, I would have to research what you mentioned for the next week to even fully understand it, and then another week to learn how to do it. I am not at all like the people on this forum. Everyone seems so experienced with things like this. Shame on me for not learning more about this stuff, I suppose.

I spoke with a local data-recovery company, and the absolute least I'd be paying them was around $1,200, based on what I was able to describe to them on the phone, but they said most likely it would go beyond that. That was rather shocking.

Are you the owner of these programs? If so, thank you very much for your time. I had assumed that other forum members would be giving me advice.

Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Oct 2016, 07:34

Re: A little help, please? File recovery from drive with damaged system

#4 Post by TinyTina »

Hello again,
a new development.

Just for giggles, I downloaded a data recovery program called R-Studio. It's expensive, like around $100 I think, but it has a free demo. So I figured, why not? I placed the "dead" drive into a USB dock, and after R-Studio scanned it, everything was there! Everything!!!! This is good news, yes?

However, the demo version of course doesn't actually allow you to do anything with those files, unless they are tiny. So I tried recovering the smallest files which were of great importance, WORD documents. And it got them out with no problem.

So am I correct in assuming that if R-Studio found all the files so easily, just as they used to be before this file system error, wouldn't one of your two programs do it as well?

Thanks again for your time.

Posts: 4
Joined: 13 Jun 2012, 19:02

Re: A little help, please? File recovery from drive with damaged system

#5 Post by Smartx21 »

Sure! If R-Studio did that, PhotoRec will do as well.
If not accustomed to command line (DOS) screens, try "qphotorec_win.exe". Run as administrator (right button).
Select the source drive, and provide a different destination, with enough space.
Select "Whole disk" and then "Search".
Observe on the destination drive/folder data being created (folders named "recupXXXX.dir").