Hooray for data recovery!

My server hard drives are acting up again. Serves me right (pun not-so-intended) for trusting drives that had previously shown signs of failure. So it’s time to look for deals on replacements as they are certainly out of warranty. CompUSA has a great price on a 250GB SATA drive going on (only 60 bucks after rebate for those interested), which would be a start except for one problem – no SATA on the server.

Not to be stopped, I figured for that money it would be worth it to increase the storage on my desktop, switch both drives to SATA, and kill some of my dependency for excess space on the server. Sounds like a plan. Yesterday I picked up the drive and last night I prepped everything. Since it was going to take awhile to copy the 100+ gigs of data intended for this drive, I let it run overnight. This morning I happily noted that everything was complete and figured I would prep the other SATA drive to take over the primary drive’s duties. By now you should have figured out that this is an overly geeky entry and will probably have zoned out before I got to the mildly humorous part. Trust me, I’m trying to get there.

There was a minor annoyace with the existing SATA drive. Because it was originally in a Dell system it had this stupid, inaccessible config partition that Windows refused to delete for me. So I figured I would try out the controller BIOS and look for some low-level utilities. Unfortunately, all it had was the ability to setup a RAID on the drives. Without going through the details, I futzed around with the setup for while before deciding not to risk the data loss and just cancelled out of everything. In my mind that meant, “Don’t make any of the changes I was thinking about.” In my computer’s mind that meant, “Don’t make anymore changes besides the ones you were thinking about.”

I booted up the computer and found only one partition. Turns out, that just by beginning the procedure to create a RAID, the BIOS deletes all existing partitions on the drives. Before you hit create, or apply, or any such button POOF! It’s all gone. Oh joy. I know you can recover lost partitions, but I wasn’t sure how much the software would cost (do I essentially want to pay the rebate over to recover from a stupid BIOS programmer’s doing?!?!) or how reliable it would be on SATA drives. I tried a couple demos that claimed they could do the job for $70 – which was just way too much for the data I wanted to get back. Then I thought of actually searching for “open source” partition recovery software. Thank you TestDisk! Thank you so much.

Sure, it’s not a pretty program. But it did what it’s supposed to do. I restored the partition table and, after a quick reboot, all of my video editing files were back online. Three cheers for Open Source Software!

As a side note, I always wanted to give a little shout out to Accurate Data Recovery – who have done some excellent hard drive recoveries for me at work – and Acronis – whose software does way better disk and partition work than Norton.

Okay, enough geekery…

2 thoughts on “Hooray for data recovery!”

  1. I am totally disenchanted with RAIDS, since they make data recover almost impossible. I simply use mirroring these days. And for servers I recommend constant backups and some spare drives of the same kind of your Raid5 Array fucks up …


  2. You really have to be careful with converting to RAID, because man can that screw you up. A nice RAID 5 once setup properly, however, is a thing of beauty. At work we have spare drives for the servers in case one goes down – kind of sad to see such expensive drives sit around doing nothing, though.

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