Hard Drive Recovery

Scott writes, I have two external hard drives now. I used to have only one. I used to save EVERYTHING to my external hard drive thinking that if I ever had a computer crash or whatever, I would be protected. Well, while traveling about one month ago, the TSA agent took my external hard drive held it up and said, “What is this?” while he dropped it. When I got home, I plugged it in, but my computer could not read or recognize it. I finally got it to be recognized by a friend’s computer.

But, the computer said that the drive needed to have a CHKDSK run on it. While doing this, it found a lot of data that it said it converted to files. I did not know then that it did must have been getting rid of things on my drive.
What I did was go and buy a new external hard drive and transferred everything over to the new external hard drive. I know have the original hard drive just as it was after the CHKDSK and the new hard drive, but I am finding that many files and several folders are just plain missing.

I understand that there are ways to get back the information, but I do not know how. Do you know how or do you know of a company to recommend for data recovery??

The unfortunate moral of this story is don’t take the only copy of your data through airport security. If you do need to take a drive through security, make it a solid state flash drive or use a portable media player (which are designed to be minimally shock absorbant). That doesn’t solve the problem of getting data back, but it will prevent future mishaps. Under normal circumstances, the first thing to do when you find out a drive is damaged is create an image of the drive, assuming a computer will recognize it. CHKDSK reads and writes to the drive, which will make a damaged drive worse. I had some serious problems with data loss do to a series of bad hard drives in my laptop a few months back. If you plan on sending the drive to a service, make sure the data you are recovering is worth at least $1000, because that’s the minimum you will pay for a competent recovery service. A specialized service may not be necessary. With some patience and care, you can likely recover the data on your own.

To prevent additional loss of data, the first step in your recovery process is to create an image of the drive using disk imaging software. The data recovery tool I rely on, GetDataBack, includes an imaging app as part of the package. GetDataBack has reliably recovered data from every damaged drive I’ve encountered in the last five years for less than $100. If you have Norton Ghost, it also works quite well for drive imaging. The image is what you will use to recover the data so that you don’t need to access the damaged drive. Remember that the image will be a snapshot of the entire disk, so you need to write it to a drive big enough to accept the contents of the damaged drive.

Access the image using GetDataBack’s data recovery function. GetDataBack will examine the contents of the image, listing every available file on the drive. In many cases, the software even finds files previously deleted from the drive in addition to files on damaged sections of the drive. When GetDataBack is finished examining the drive it lets you choose to copy individual files or the entire contents of the drive from the image to vacant hard drive space on your PC. Depending on the size of the damaged drive and the amount of data stored on the drive, this might take a ton of space.