How to rescue the data off a hard drive when the usual means don't work?
June 10, 2006 4:37 PM   Subscribe

How to rescue the data off a hard drive when the usual means don't work? Tried several previously-recommended recovery programs and am currently running a LiveCD, but none of it works. Lots more inside.

Two days ago, I installed Ubuntu on the same 250gig drive as XP SP2 runs on. I didn't repartition it through Windows, but through GPartEd. For a day and a half, it worked great, I could see and use everything on that main drive and a secondary drive.

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Last night, I booted back to windows, but got a missing HAL.DLL error, which is seemingly indicative of an erroneous BOOT.INI, resulting from repartitioning the Windows disk not through Windows. Attempting to fix BOOT.INI through Ubuntu didn't work, and various other fixes I tried to find didn't work either; trying to expand the default BOOT.INI off of the windows CD failed, and trying to do anything with it via the rescue console told me that access was denied.
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Deciding to just reinstall Windows and the timesink that that entails, I got out a tertiary drive, reformatted it, and installed windows on it. That works fine now, and the old secondary drive works as well. The former primary drive, 250gigs, now is unrecognized. The Windows Disk editor sees it, but insists that it's unformatted. I tried to CHKDSK it, but the utility said that CHKDSK couldn't run because the drive was in a RAW file format, not NTFS. I have since been going through every data recovery tool mentioned on Ask, none of which work at all, as far as I can tell.

I am currently booted into the Ubuntu 6.06 LiveCD, and while I can see the tertiary drive, which XP is currently loaded onto, I cannot mount it, because

error: device /dev/hda2 is not removable
error: could not execute pmount

and the 250gig drive is not even acknowledged. I have no expertise in this matter whatsoever, but I suspect that the partition table is the broken thing, because of XP not loading and NTLDR eventually dying. I have no idea how to fix it, and all of the work on that drive is due in two days. Any suggestions?
posted by duende to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Put it in your freezer until it gets nice and cold, and then try. No joke. See: Lifehacker
posted by Ekim Neems at 4:59 PM on June 10, 2006

Response by poster: I'm pretty sure that the drive is physically intact; I can't/won't write anything to it to make sure, but the problem very much seems to be related to the organization of the data.
posted by duende at 5:16 PM on June 10, 2006

Response by poster: addendum: I also remade the master boot record, via the XP recovery CD.
posted by duende at 5:20 PM on June 10, 2006

Put it in an air-tight ziplock bag and THEN put it in your freezer, so you dont get melty ice and condensation moisture in there...
posted by ab3 at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2006

Best answer: Got it working, it was the partition tables.

This fixed it. Thanks for the help.
posted by duende at 9:57 PM on June 10, 2006

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