Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.
I had a hard disk crash recently, and I thought it might be interesting to review what happened and what I've done since to try and recover my data.
The disk is a 300 gigabyte external Maxtor USB drive to which I regularly backup some data, and on which I maintain my music library and images of product CDs for ready access.
One day Windows simply reported that it could not read the drive; that the data had been corrupted.
My first thought was to run SpinRite to locate and repair any physical defects on the drive itself. SpinRite ran for several hours and told me the drive was just fine.
Of course it wasn't, but this ruled out a true hardware crash and pointed to simple data corruption.
I pulled out a copy of Acronis Disk Director to attempt to repair the partition table, thinking that might be the next logical place for a failure. Acronis found nothing to repair, the partition table was fine. That implied that the actual disk directory structure - NTFS in this case - had somehow become garbled.
I found an interesting utility called "Get Data Back". Running that for several hours recovered what I'd estimate to be about 50 to 70% of the data on the drive. I copied that off and decided to call it quits there.
You see, recovering the drive was an exercise in convenience. Most everything on that drive was duplicated elsewhere: the mp3's were ripped from my CD collection, the iTunes downloads were being backed up nightly to another drive, product and other CD images were just that; images of CDs that I had sitting around elsewhere. Recovering what I could was a time saver, but not much more.
There are two lessons here that I think make this story worthwhile:
Stuff happens. You will at some point, when you least expect it, lose the contents of a drive.
The only truly reliable way to recover is to have backups.
Yes, I was able to recover some of my data directly from the drive, but not all. The fact that everything was backed up in some form or another is what saved me.
As to why this happened: I suspect, but can't yet confirm, that putting three external USB and Firewire drives on a single machine confused the USB and Firewire adapter I was using. Something didn't get transferred properly that should have.
But that's only a guess.
In the mean time I'm reformatting that drive, and once again reviewing my backup strategy just in case.
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 11707 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse over 1,200 technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.
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