Recovering Files from damaged drives

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Work in Progress

Introduction

Nearly everyone has been caught off-guard due to hardware failure at some point. But fear not! It is possible to recover some files from a broken hard drive or from a bad file system. Although the method is not foolproof, it may allow you to recover some precious or improtant files if disaster strikes. THIS IS NOT A PC REPAIR GUIDE! It will only allow you to extract some files from a damaged hard drive, not tell you how to fix it.

One note though, this tutorial is not even required as long as you have decent backups available. For more advice on creating, maintaining or just about everything to do with backups visit this article Backup your data files

The Method

This first paragraph is if you cannot turn on or access your computer the hard drive is a part of. if you can access the drive, but the contents are missing or corrupted, please skip to the next paragraph. Now, if the computer your hard drive is part of will not start/crashes, the first option is to start your computer in safe mode. Normally this is achieved by repeatedly tapping F8, during startup BEFORE it says 'starting windows'. A menu should appear, and then you just select Safe Mode. (A quick note: If tapping F8 does not work for you, this is fine. The key you are required to press varies from computer to computer, so just try each function key until one works.) If you can then log on fine and get to your desktop, just continue to the next paragraph, if not keep reading. If your computer still crashes or you can't get it to turn on then unfortunately you will have to get it repaired professionally. (Note: a method of recovering from this point onwards will be added later, however it will require you to dismantle your pc. If you feel you cannot do this then see if you can get your pc repaired professionally)

This paragraph is for when you can log into your computer, but cannot find any files, folders don't open or multiple files are corrupted. The program we will be using to attempt to recover some files is the aptly named 'Recuva' (Website). Now, in order to use it, you must download (and install) it onto a memory stick or some other form of removable media. (This is to stop any new data being written to the affected drive, possibly overwriting recoveravble files.) Next, run it from the memory stick on the affected computer. The program will start and a window will appear entitled "Welcome to the Recuva Wizard", just click next. On the next menu just select other and continue by pressing next. if you are sure of where you want to recover programs from, (i.e My Music) then select 'in a specific location', browse to the folder you wish to recover and press next, if not just leave it on 'I'm not sure' and press next. Do not select Deep Scan as this drastically enlarges scanning time. If however, the search fails or files are still missing you will have to deep scan.

Once your scan has found some files it is best to press the 'switch to advanced mode' button, selecting 'options', and changing the view mode to 'tree view'. This arranges the results in a folder structure, allowing you to see where they came from. Now, simply select the files you wish to recover by ticking the box next to it. Once you are done, press 'Recover...' in the bottom right and create a new folder on a DIFFERENT hard drive from the one you are recovering from or a memory stick. Hit O.K and Voila! Your files are recovered.


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