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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Data on Storage drive gone

    Hi All
    I was troubleshooting my Raid Zero Array C: drive and while installing a saved System Image, approximately 1.2TB of data on my Raid 1 Array storage drive disappeared. While I deleted the Raid Zero C: drive and then rebuilt the array after I rolled the Motherboard ports of 2 HDs I did not accidentally delete the Raid 1 Array storage drive. Really.

    After I reinstalled the saved System Image File I had created using the Windows 7 OS feature, I was happily surfing along and wanted to save a website into the Favorites Folder on the D: storage drive and discovered to my horror that the Array had been either formatted or deleted. I don't know which. All I know is that the data is gone. Ten years of important files wiped out. I unplugged the power connectors to the 2 raid 1 HDs to avoid accidentally copying another file onto it.

    I had thousands of files on that drive. I had about three hundred or so maps, mods, and videos from my favorite video game. Some of these files are in folders inside of folders inside of folders inside of folders.

    I would like to hear from people who have had experience with this type of data recovery. I would like recommendations of a software program that they have used to successfully recover these files that are in folders inside of folders inside of folders inside of folders.
    Thank You
    Jimmy

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    I'm assuming you are using software RAID? Not a good idea IMO.
    The RAID 1 disks may have been re-initialized by Windows, which is likely to have resulted in the file tables being wiped. Once that has been done there is little chance of recovery.
    I would use one or two of the file recovery products - you can usually download a trial version - and see what can be found.

    cheers, Paul

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    Hi Paul
    Thanks for responding to my problem.

    Yes I was using (Control+I) the Windows 7 Raid provisioning software and the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Raid watchdog.

    This Storage Raid Array One still shows up in BIOS as the PC boots up as having no problem and still being intact. My friend who built this PC told me to unplug the power to the drives so they won't be disturbed.

    When I loaded my Windows 7 OS disk to install my saved System Image, I didn't go directly to the "Repair your PC" section. I thought that after swapping 2 of the Raid Zero HDs I would go to the "Install" section and press the "Format" button just to "clean" the array. When I got there the Format button was grayed out and not available. I think I clicked on the left side of that screen on the word "New" that was high lighted. I didn't think clicking on the word "New" would put 10 years of data at risk.

    After clicking on the word "New" I didn't hear or see any bells, lights or whistles so I think I clicked on cancel or in someway backed out of the install screen and back into the 1st screen where I clicked on "Repair your PC" or something close to that. I installed the saved System Image and discovered later that there was no data left in the Storage drive.

    So I hope it is still there and recoverable.

    So I take it that you have not had to use date recovery software? My thoughts are that if I try a free sample copy of date recovery software and it didn't work very well that it might change or alter my drive so that any other data recovery software may not then be able to fully recovery the data. I don't know.

    That's why I'm looking for someone who has successfully used a version of a data recovery software product and will recommend it.
    Thanks
    Ted

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    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    I have successfully used recovery software to retrieve files that had not been backed up for a client whose machine had a malicious infection. It has been a number of years, though, and I don't remember the name of the tool I used. I still have the disk somewhere (I believe stored at another site).

    As I recall, the recovery tool does not write anything at all to the disk. All it does is read the disk looking for the charactistics of data files (that have had the headers removed; that's what "deleting" a file does, basically take its file system name structure away - nothing else of the file is erased, although it may be overwritten at a later date, since with the file header gone, the sectors are shown to the file system as available).

    Once the tool makes its pass through the hard drive (the time varies depending on how much was actually on the drive) it presents a summary of potential files. They are named temporarily something like "rec-000000001, rec-000000002, rec-000000003, etc.

    From that point, you can use a text editor to open each file, examine the contents to see if they are recognizable. If, for example, the file looks more like a Word document, you can close the text editor view of the file, then open it with Word to see if it is actually a Word document. If it is, the you just rename it from "rec-000000002" to "<recognized>.doc" where <recognized> is the actual name you remember for that file, or something close that will let you remember what that file contains, and save it to a different drive (to keep from overwriting anything on the drive in question).

    For files that look like gibberish in a text editor, try opening them with a photo editor. So you can basically be looking at a very long, long project if you literally had thousands of data files saved.

    To recap, the file recovery software looks for file structure, and gives that structure a temporary name. You need another drive to save recovered files to, in order to keep from overwriting anything on the scrambled drive. You need lots of time.

    There are some sophisticated recovery tools available, but none of them are cheap. The tool I used was rather basic, but as I recall it was in the neighborhood of $90 US. All I was looking for were files that had been created since the last backup on this particular client's machine, and I knew going in that they were all Word documents, and I knew the naming structure the client used. Any file that wouldn't open in Word, I wasn't insterested in. Still, it took the better part of a week to recover a couple hundred files. These were legal documents, and so they were extremely valuable to the client.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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    Seems to me that you are using the RAID built in to the motherboard. This is good because the data should still be available after you load the disk driver software.

    FWIW, never use RAID 0 (striped) unless you have a very good, tried and tested backup regime.

    cheers, Paul

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    I'm confused by some of what you are telling us. You said you have a RAID 1 storage array, and a RAID 0 OS array.. I'm assuming that means you have 2 drives for data, and 2 for your OS? There is no advantage to using RAID 0. In fact I think its rather dangerous to do so. There is no parity, so no redundancy. If one drive fails, or the stripe set goes corrupt (and they do), you're toast. The sole reason for using RAID 0 is to create one large volume from 2 or more drives. I'm hoping you can shed a little more light on your configuration.

    As Paul said, you may need to load a driver to get the volumes to recover properly. I'm not sure what you mean by "I rolled the Motherboard ports of 2 HDs". Did you physically or logically swap the ports the drives are attached to? The parity of the RAID array is expecting the drives to be in the correct sequence. If they are moved either physically or logically it breaks the mirror. From what it sounds like, its more than likely your RAID 1 array's stripe set went corrupt. If so, your data us unrecoverable. Either way, RAID 1, 5 or 10 is always a good thing, but no substitute for good backups.
    Chuck

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    Hi Doc Brown
    Thanks for taking an interest in this thread

    Please let me apologize for my poor communication skills.

    Since my data was lost from a Raid One (1) array that is the D:/ drive that I use for data storage, I didn't think that detailing the Raid Zero (0) array was important. Allow me to explain.

    I am currently using four (4) 30GB SSDs in a Raid Zero (0) array as the C:/ drive with a Windows 7 OS. It is a screamer!!!! It is REALLY FAST. I don't store ANY data that I want to save on this drive. I don't use the "Favorites" feature of I.E. 8 and I have Real Player provisioned to save downloaded videos in the D:/ storage drive. Instead I have MANY shortcuts to Folders in the D:/ Storage drive.

    The D:/ Storage drive consists of Two (2) 2TB Western Digital mechanical hard drives provisioned into a Raid One (1) array. (Unless you click on the "New" button on the Windows 7 install page it was pretty secure. Please review my second post in this thread regarding the "New" button)

    I have been using this setup for a few years now. Before the SSDs I was using Two (2) Western Digital Raptors in a Raid Zero array for the C"/ drive. They were fast but nothing to even touch the SSDs in a Raid Zero (0) array. The read and write speeds as well as the drive's capacity are additive in a Raid Zero (0) array. Moreover the cost of using three (3) 30GB SSD units was cheaper a couple of years ago to attain a modest 90GB capacity C:/ drive than buying a single SSD unit of that size was. I added SSD unit number four (4) in November of 2010.

    Up until the time when I lost the data on the Raid One (1) array there were no problems with that array. The problems I was having was on the Raid Zero (0) array. About the troubleshooting I was doing on the Raid Zero (0) array. You are correct when you say that if one drive fails you are "Toast"

    A few months after I installed SSD number four (0) in the Raid Zero (0) array for C:/ drive one of the SSD units on the Raid Zero (0) array for the C:/ drive began to fail. As this is my fourth hand built PC built by my friend Nick I could see the BIOS loading and see the SSD unit show up as failed as well as see the Raid One (1) array displayed in RED when the BIOS loaded. It would also show failed in Intel's Rapid Storage Technology Software. I reset it in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software a couple of times but it kept failing. I wanted to "Prove" the fault either into the failing SSD unit or back into either the serial cable or motherboard port. So I turned off the PC and physically moved two (2) SSD units. The one that had failed with an SSD unit that hadn't failed. To do this I deleted the Raid Zero (0) array in Windows 7 OS. I then physically rolled the two (2) afore mentioned SSD units and then I re-provisioned the Raid Zero (0) array in Windows 7 OS.

    I'm a great advocate of backup system images. Before Windows 7 I used Norton Ghost. Now that Windows 7 has a backup system image feature build in, I use that.

    I again refer you to my second posting in this thread to see what I did just before I lost all of the data in the Storage drive.

    When I did the troubleshooting detailed in my second posting in this thread I had already "Proved" that the Failures I was getting was a bad SSD unit and rolling the identified bad SSD unit with another SSD unit "Moved" the Failing SSD displays in BIOS and the Intel Software to the "Good" port that hadn't failed before. I replaced the bad failing SSD unit and have not had a Failure or a crash for than a month. Although I thought I still had a problem in the C:/ drive Raid array.

    In the Event Viewer I kept seeing an Error that was a Source=Disk, Event ID=11.
    The General Tab had this: "The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Harddisk3\DR3". I thought I still had a problem on the Raid Zero (0) Array. As it turns out this error was caused by my Flash/Thumb drive/stick and NOT the Raid Zero (0) array. So thinking that the "Harddisk3\DR3" meant port 3 I again rolled two SSD units as I previously described. Except this time I did a little extra as detailed in my second posting in this thread.

    My PC was built by my friend Nick as I said. So I can see the BIOS load and see that both Raid arrays are present and working in all respects in the BIOS as it loads. Before I unplugged the power connectors of the Raid One (1) array (per Nick's advice) I could go into "My Computer" and click on D:/ drive and it would open. It would display the sentence "This Folder is Empty"

    Clicking on any and all of the shortcuts to my folders in D:/ drive just gets me the dialog box labeled "Problem with Shortcut" and the two sentences saying "The drive or network connection that the shortcut 'Favorites - Shortcut.lnk' refers to is unavailable. Make sure that the disk is properly inserted or the network resource is available, and then try again."

    Turns out I probably caused the loss of data on my Raid One (1) Storage drive by clicking on the "New" button as detailed in my second posting in this thread.
    What a deal

    A commercial Data Recovery Service states on their website to not change, delete, re-build, etc, etc, your drive(s) for fear of losing any chance to be able to recovery the data on the drive. That's probable why my friend Nick advised me to unplug the power connectors to the drives.

    So I'm looking for some advice from folks who have had experience and success in using data recovery software. I'm also looking at commercial data recovery websites.

    I hope I have clarified this situation.
    Ted



    [/SIZE]

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    I'm a great advocate of backup system images. Before Windows 7 I used Norton Ghost. Now that Windows 7 has a backup system image feature build in, I use that.


    Turns out I probably caused the loss of data on my Raid One (1) Storage drive by clicking on the "New" button as detailed in my second posting in this thread.
    What a deal

    A commercial Data Recovery Service states on their website to not change, delete, re-build, etc, etc, your drive(s) for fear of losing any chance to be able to recovery the data on the drive. That's probable why my friend Nick advised me to unplug the power connectors to the drives. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't have any experience with this type of recovery because its easier to restore the data. I'm not sure its even possible to recover from a corrupt stripe set.

    So I'm looking for some advice from folks who have had experience and success in using data recovery software. I'm also looking at commercial data recovery websites.

    I hope I have clarified this situation.
    Ted



    [/SIZE]
    Yes, very clear. Sounds like you did some really good troubleshooting. However, it sounds like you do have a back up of the data, so I'm curious as to why you would want to pay a service to restore the drives? It would be far cheaper and faster to recreate the array and restore the data. The reason I say this is that's how I've done it on servers. I'm not even sure you can recover from a corrupt strip set.
    Last edited by Doc Brown; 2011-03-29 at 09:24.
    Chuck

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    Hi Doc
    First let me make a correction of my third Post. The corrections are in red:
    "A few months after I installed SSD number four in the Raid Zero (0) array for C:/ drive, one of the SSD units on the Raid Zero (0) array for the C:/ drive began to fail. As this is my fourth hand built PC built by my friend Nick I could see the BIOS loading and see the SSD unit show up as failed as well as see the Raid Zero (0) array displayed in RED when the BIOS loaded. It would also show failed in Intel's Rapid Storage Technology Software. I reset it in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software a couple of times but it kept failing. I wanted to "Prove" the fault either into the failing SSD unit or back into either the serial cable or motherboard port. So I turned off the PC and physically moved two (2) SSD units. The one that had failed with an SSD unit that hadn't failed. To do this I deleted the Raid Zero (0) array in Windows 7 OS. I then physically rolled the two (2) afore mentioned SSD units and then I re-provisioned the Raid Zero (0) array in Windows 7 OS."

    So Doc, while I do have a Raid Zero (0) C:/ drive system image saved I relied on the dual hard drive Raid One (1) configuration to safe guard the data on my Storage drive D:/.

    I didn't count on messing it up myself by clicking on the "New" button as described in my second post in this thread. That is the only thing that I can think of that I did before I realized the data was gone.

    All 1.3TB of data that included irreplaceable pictures of now passed family members. I also had a sizeable collection of game demos downloaded from the website "FilePlanet". (To each their own)

    I had about 8 years of data on that Storage drive that I would like to get back. And if I do get it back I'll get another 2TB hard drive and put it in the Thermaltake brand 2.5" / 3.5" SATA HDD eSATA & USB Docking Station that I just bought and make a copy of my Storage drive and store that copy offline in a safe place.

    One last thought that is somewhat off subject. The first time I used the Windows 7 OS feature to make a system image backup I used the Raid One (1) D:/ drive to create/copy the System Image. Those 2 hard drives are SATA 2 drives. After doing the first bit of Troubleshooting mentioned before I loaded the Image I had just created back onto the C:/ drive. The copy was perfect. No additional Event Errors in the Event Logs. After I made some changes and installed more programs on this PC I wanted to have a current System Image backup File so I decided to use a brand new shiny bright 250GB PATA (Ultra ATA 133) hard drive that I had laying in my closet that I had never taken out of the box and loaded it my Kingwin IDE 5.25" Mobile Rack.

    The Windows 7 OS recognized the Mobile Rack that I have assigned the letter "S" to (for Swap drive) and the OS created/copied the System Image file on it. I used this System Image File the second time I swapped SSDs when I was chasing a false issue. (There was no additional issues wrong with the C:/ drive but I thought there was.)

    Right away the Event Log showed additional Errors. Mostly complaining about corrupted data. So I reloaded the last System Image that I had created/copied on the Raid One (1) D:/ Storage drive. That corrected the errors. The lesson I learned from that was (for me) to not use an old tech slow hard drive to back up a super fast Raid Zero (0) array made up of SSDs.

    Ted

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post

    So Doc, while I do have a Raid Zero (0) C:/ drive system image saved I relied on the dual hard drive Raid One (1) configuration to safe guard the data on my Storage drive D:/.

    I didn't count on messing it up myself by clicking on the "New" button as described in my second post in this thread. That is the only thing that I can think of that I did before I realized the data was gone.
    And that's the reason for backups. To protect us from the things that we don't count on. RAID is great, but it was never meant to be a replacement for backups. Rather it was originally intended for data center servers, when a drive fails, the server keeps running without crashing. The mantra in IT is not that it "might happen", but that it will happen. Always plan for the worst. I'm a bit surprised that your friend who helped you set this up didn't recommend an additional backup.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post

    I had about 8 years of data on that Storage drive that I would like to get back. And if I do get it back I'll get another 2TB hard drive and put it in the Thermaltake brand 2.5" / 3.5" SATA HDD eSATA & USB Docking Station that I just bought and make a copy of my Storage drive and store that copy offline in a safe place.
    Unfortunately that's a very hard lesson to learn, but I think you're on the right track going forward. Ask most of the members here, while we have different methods (schools of thought really) of approaching back & recovery, we all have at least two or three copies of our data. I have more than 10 years worth of personal data that's backed up to several different external hard drives, as well as copies of photos also burned to DVDs.

    I wish you the best on this.
    Chuck

  11. #11
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    SpinRite from Gibson Research can recover lost data, and it is highly rated. It is very thorough, and it is $89 US. There are no free trials. I have used it to rejuvenate a hard drive, but I haven't tried the data recovery per se. I didn't really have any lost data, just a faltering drive, but while it is doing a complete check of the drive, at that level it is also recovering any lost data.

    Check the link. SpinRite takes a very long time to run, so if you decide to go that route, be prepared to wait a long time.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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    Hi bbearren

    Thanks for your advice.

    SpinRite IS an outstanding product. My Niece's XP laptop crashed and you couldn't get it going or just boot it using a dos boot disk. It was really toast. My friend Nick used SpinRite to repair that hard drive and SpinRite got it going.

    SpinRite repaired the hard drive and Windows XP started to run again. All of her files and pictures were there. She was really happy.
    XP just started working again.

    We didn't have to guess what kind of files were there. They were just there in the their original form.

    Of course we copied all of her "files and pictures" and then replaced the hard drive and reinstalled the OS.

    I even bought her an external hard drive for storing her data with an admonition to her to buy another external hard drive to "back up" the copy of the first external hard drive.

    In my research for the "right" software to use to restore my data I went to the SpinRite website and was almost ready to buy a copy when I came across a brochure on SpinRite v5.0 that said that they were so confident of the quality of their Tech Support that the brochure invited anyone to ask a Tech Support question before they purchased SpinRite.

    So I did. I told the sad story of how I lost my data and asked them if their SpinRite v6.0 was the 'rite' software for my problem.

    Greg McIntyre of Gibson Research Technical Support responded back to my email the very next day with a SUPER Informative response. He said, (and I quote him) "What you're describing is not "data recovery", it's "file system repair". The term "Data Recovery", refers to some sort of actual DAMAGE to the data on the hard drive which requires specific, true, data recovery measures. THIS is what SpinRite does, is what "it is good for" and how it has helped many tens of thousands of users through the years."

    Is that cool or what? He went on to name several "file system repair" brands of software and "file system repair" commercial services. He didn't recommend a software or service but suggested that if I call a commercial service that I get 3 estimates.

    So I am going to buy SpinRite. The website discussed doing
    maintenance using SpinRite every so often to keep your hard drives healthy. I like their idea of keeping your hard drives healthy with SpinRite. That really makes sense to me.

    Like I said before, I watched Nick use SpinRite to repair my Niece's Laptop hard drive. SpinRite brought that laptop's hard drive back from the dead. I saw it.

    So I wanted to share Greg Mclntyre's email response with everyone.
    It's not often you can get professional Technical support advice from a software maker without having bought their software first.

    When I finish this thread entry I'm going back to their website (at http://www.grc.com) and purchase SpinRite v6.0 to do the maintenance they recommend to keep my hard drives healthy and working longer.

    Meanwhile I'm still looking for someone who has successfully used some brand of "File System repair" software to hear of their experience and their recommendation.

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