Hard drive recovery help for an idiot.

rigman

Well-known Member
Hi

i was looking to make my Cinema PC as a server so I could access the drives with all of my movies on using a media server. The computer has a SSD and 3 x 3TB hard drives.

I looked online for advice and found a video showing how to set up a remote link using tightVNC and I managed to do that okay.

The guy then went on to show how to set up drives in an array so it only had one drive letter. This was using setting up a new pool within window.
Stupidly I followed the instructions and received an error. I then found that all of the drives had vanished completely. There was no warning either from him or windows to state that there would be a loss of the data.

I then went in to disc management and reallocated the drives. However it now states that they need to be reformatted.

I have easus partition manager which is currently doing a scan but it is showing no partitions found and the disks as unformatted. It has been scanning for hours and only at 37%

Is there something else I should try as I have terrabytes of my films on the drives or is it all a lost cause and I should just go and jump off the nearest high bridge.

Cheers for any help
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Can you link to the video so we can see what has been suggested, otherwise its hard to diagnose.

You would normally expect to get your data back from a partition\software array setup, assuming in the latter that it hasn't zeroed the drive.

You can't normally setup an array from drives without "losing" the data in the sense that it will be overwritten.
 

rigman

Well-known Member
Hi Chuck thanks for your reply

The video is here

It is around the 8 minutes 50 seconds.

I would have thought that Windows would have warned there was a probability of losing data by doing it but there was no warning at all.

When I clicked on 'create pool' it just came up with an error so I gave up on it.
It was after that I noticed all the drives had vanished from under 'This PC'
 

rigman

Well-known Member
I was not really wanting to set it up as a Raid array I just liked the idea of them just having one drive letter rather than three to ease the media player setup.
I should have realised it was not a good idea but it is a lesson hard learned.

After I found the drives missing I went into Disk management and reallocated them a letter.
The problem is they are now showing as unformatted and obviously no data.

I was tempted to do a quick format but did not want to cause any more damage.

Thanks for your help
 

jimscreechy

Active Member
Hmm, you do have RAID and Spanning within Windows which allows you to make arrays. However they will wipe (remove partition information) from your drives and that's 'It' for the most part in restoring anything. Getting the information back is not easy if not next to impossible. Windows will generally 'alert' you if data loss is a possibility but sometimes the warnings are subtle or more of a gentle information prompt.

Yes it's true some professional services can, and even (I've heard) some software can, but I've never personally managed to get any software to do this and I've tried. Its not like reclaiming deleted files or fixing bad sectors with an intact Boot record.

Chances are your data is gone for good... sorry. However, I'd not discourage you from trying, and there are some knowledgeable members here who I'm sure will have suggestions for you to use in trying to recover your data, which again, I encourage you to follow.

Data loss is a harrowing experience and I feel your pain. Good luck
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Sorry, haven't had a chance to look at the video yet so apologies.

I was tempted to do a quick format but did not want to cause any more damage.

Do NOT do this, in the case of data recovery you should not do any further write operations to a disk. What you should ideally do (and what commercial companies will do) is image the disk using the appropriate software. This allows you to effectively clone the disk at a low level and then work on the image on a known "working" drive and will normally recover the data if it is still there. I appreciate though with 3TB drives you need a reasonable amount of space. I would consider for example buying a >12TB drive to try this and ensure that you have backup going forward.

Yes it's true some professional services can, and even (I've heard) some software can, but I've never personally managed to get any software to do this and I've tried. Its not like reclaiming deleted files or fixing bad sectors with an intact Boot record.

Chances are your data is gone for good... sorry. However, I'd not discourage you from trying, and there are some knowledgeable members here who I'm sure will have suggestions for you to use in trying to recover your data, which again, I encourage you to follow.

I will slightly disagree with this on the assumption that the activities the OP did happen quickly in (i.e. it didn't do an overnight data wipe). Usually in the case of this then while the partition tables may have been deleted, the files and underlying information is still available on the drive.

I think there is still a good chance of recovery, but it assumes the OP stops writing the drives and even potentially takes the other 2 offline to stop Windows doing anything more to them.

Proper RAID would eventually destroy this information as it writes at a low level to the drive.

I have used Disk Recovery Software and Hard Drive Recovery tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux to recover data from drives including spanning multiple drives on RAID. It is a cost product however the free version will clone the drive and also allow you to see the files\partitions it can recover on, it just won't allow you to recover anything over 50KB last time I looked.
 

rigman

Well-known Member
Thanks for your replies and help guys

Other than reallocating them a drive letter I have not done anything else to write to the discs. After the mistake I removed all but one of the drives leaving that and the SSD C: drive which was unaffected.

I downloaded Easeus data recovery and that can see the files. It claims it is a free program but when you ask it to restore it then wants 69 quid for the key to unlock.

I will have a look at the one linked and maybe wait until black Friday to see if there are any offers on.

I did not use the HTPC much but after all the effort that went into it with the build and ripping time I would like to recover all the movies if possible but would rather so it as cheap as I can to make the mistake as palatable as possible :laugh:.

Thanks again.
 

jimscreechy

Active Member
That is indeed good news. You could try active data recovery from LSoft HERE technologies (I tend to use the whole suite of tools, but the data recovery tool is all you need)

Last time I looked they still had full functionality free for 7days wit the demo, so if this is still the case you could do well to use it. I can't guarantee they still offer but it won't kill to take a look.

There are not many disk recovery tools that are free, but maybe someone will post with something you can use for free.
 

rigman

Well-known Member
Just an update on this in case it ever happens to anyone else.

I ended up using a free program called Testdisk and eventually after many days ended up recovering around 75% of my files. It uses CLI although there is a part of it that uses windows interface if required.
It did not matter if the drives were quick formatted or not it recovered the same amount of data.

There was a lot of rubbish that had built up over the years including DVD's, some low quality downloads and other movies that I will never watch again which I ended up deleting anyway.
Some of the films were recovered but in multiple files for some reason but most were fully intact.

The files recovered were all randomly named so I had to play each one to figure out what film it was. It was so annoying to find that loads of films have not titles or credits at the start so I had to go into the end credits and google directors etc for the more obscure that I had not yet viewed or forgotten.

All in all I ended up with one empty drive of the three so although I lost some movies which I wanted it was not as disastrous as it could have been as it should not take long to re rip them.

Thanks to you guys that helped.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Glad you got sorted to a certain extent anyway. :)

Did you try R Studio at all? The missing\random files are because the FAT\indexes have been "lost" that's not to say they will have been deleted just harder to find.

The paid software is often vastly quicker at recovering and tries more locations so will often get the filenames back too.

The reason you don't want to do anything like quick format on a "broken" drive is that any write operations risk further data loss and in disk recovery you should only ever read the disk.
 

rigman

Well-known Member
I tried a couple of try before you buy programs. Easus found more files but the largest mkv file it found was only 3.9gb when when the largest was actually around 26gb. there were quite a few above 20gb.
Another one (Recuva iirc) hardly found anything at all so it put me off paying for something that may not have worked.

When I used Teskdisk I was not that confident of results but it did a great job and mostly what I lost (and is worth having) I can just rip again instead of starting right from scratch.

I suppose it was only films and not treasured videos or photos so it would not have been the end of the world if I had not got anything back and it was actually quite therapeutic having the clear out and educational going through the process.
 

rigman

Well-known Member
Thanks Chuckmountain

The empty drive has not been touched other than to recover the data so I will give it a try and see if R studio does any better.
 

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