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When you managed to accidentally delete a hard drive partition and want to restore it …


Posted by | Evil Kristos | March 5, 2009 | No Comments

Computers by default are evil and when the operating system is designed by a certain software giant from Redmond one click can mean the end of life as you know it. We get so used to “undo” things with a click of a mouse that sometimes we forget that some actions on a PC are lethal.

Put it this way; my operating system has in the past asked me the question “Are you sure?” so many times that I stopped paying any attention to it.

When I installed the operating system to my brand new computer yesterday I noticed something odd. One of the first steps to take when you install Windows is to create a partition and then format it.

When I was about to create a partition I noticed that there was one listed already. It was the wrong size and made no sense. The merchant where I had bought the computer had tested the system so may be it was him. Since I like my system tidy I deleted the partition (and yes I was sure) and created a new one.

About 30 seconds later I got really suspicious. I remembered that I had an external drive which my old computer would never ever have picked up on BIOS level but then it was a really old computer. Suddenly the size of the partition also sounded a lot more familiar. It dawned on me that I had just erased my entire backup drive. I panicked and connected it to the girlfriend’s computer. Bingo, me silly Muppet had deleted the one and only partition on my one and only backup drive. For crying out loud; how could a computer literate, 10 years of tech support in the field, constantly giving out about PEBKAC dummy users, grumpy old man pretending to be a genius make such a stupid mistake?

Rule number one in computer sciences is: DON’T PANIC. Google is your friend went it comes to this kind of problem so I went searching for a way to undo my mistake.

My first stop was the Microsoft Support website. Their explanation on how to fix it was as useless as one could expect. The answers are never wrong but they hardly ever help you in any way. I don’t know how they do it. 30 years of experience on their end I suppose.

Next I checked out a few tools that were available. They all promised to do the job and I have no doubt that they would I just refuse to pay 60 Dollars for a tool that does nothing but restoring a hidden table on the hard drive. This should be for free and be provided by Redmond!

After two hours of searching I found a promising looking website and I want to share it with you because the tool offered there not only did the job but it was also for free. The author asks for a donation but it is a “can do” if it works for you.

The tool is called TestDisk and you can find it here: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk.

It is not very pretty but it works and that is what really matters. There is a slightly confusing but at the end of the day correct and sufficient explanation on how to use it. When you start the tool you basically see a DOS screen and from there you just follow the instructions. It sounds easy enough I know BUT when I finally hit “write” and was asked if I am sure I really wasn’t. After reading through the examples once again I went for it anyways. I knew if I screw this up this would be the end of all my pictures, music and documents. They would be lost for good so I was a little nervous about it.

I confirmed the write command anyways and only seconds later the autostart of the computer recognised a new drive. I opened it in folder view and everything was there. Christophe Grenier (that’s the author of the tool); you are a rock star! I would encourage everyone who was saved by his tools TestDisc and PhotoRec to donate some money.

So if you have erased a partition, lost your BIOS password or have deleted files and can’t restore them, if your FAT table is screwed and you think everything is over, give this tool a go. It works!

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