Last night the computer worked fine. This morning, it greeted me with a black screen claiming that one of the system files required for booting (one of the registry files) was missing or corrupt.
Not how I wanted to spend Saturday after spending a week on the road, especially given last week’s travel conditions.
And it got worse. I booted off a Windows CD, and the C drive wasn’t accessible. I couldn’t even list a directory. So I tried running chkdsk, which ran through 25% and said it found unrecoverable disk errors.
So I’m using Recovery is Possible. It’s a very clunky collection of powerful recovery tools–tools that can recover lost partitions and lost files when normal tools can’t–that runs inside a Linux LiveCD environment. Although it runs in Linux, it can read and write to Windows partitions, including NTFS partitions, just fine.
I say it’s clunky because I couldn’t even figure out how to open a console window so I could make a directory to copy files into. I finally had to resort to using Midnight Commander. Which is fine, but frustrating when I could just type mkdir /mnt/sda/evo and get the job done in seconds. A tool obviously geared toward power users shouldn’t make it that difficult to get to a command line to do things.
I’m sure I’ll be sharing more experience later. Someone who’s reasonably comfortable with Linux can stumble through it and use it, but someone with no Linux experience would struggle with it.
It was able to mount the partition and I could see some files, but a lot of stuff was missing, including my user profile. So I ended up resorting to using Photorec, which just searches the disk for files and dumps them. You lose a lot of organization and the filenames are generic, but it’s better than losing everything since your last backup.
Like I said, it wasn’t how I wanted to spend Saturday.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.