Please save my subfactors!
May 17, 2007 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Please help me save my master's thesis...

The folder on my Windows XP computer which contains my Master's thesis will no longer open. Everything else on my computer is fine, but when I double-click that folder, everything stalls for about a minute, and then I get a message that says "The disk in drive C: is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?" Obviously I chose no.

Is there any way I can fix this? I've tried restarting and it does no good.

Full disclosure: this isn't as bad as it sounds. I got my Master's two years ago, and I have a hard copy of my thesis. I also have a slightly less than final draft on another machine, but I'd really rather not lose this version. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by number9dream to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Have you tried something simple like using chkdsk?
posted by demiurge at 9:19 PM on May 17, 2007

Stop using the computer. Before you do anything like use chkdsk, you want to make a complete backup of the disk. You might want to make an image with something like Ghost. Then run the chkdsk. Otherwise, you might clobber your shit.
posted by rbs at 9:28 PM on May 17, 2007

Yeah, rbs is right, the first thing you should do is stop using the computer and pull out the disk and make a copy of it. Ghost or another disk cloning program would work.

After that, work on the copied image if you can and don't touch the original disk. If you have the resources, make a few copies.
posted by formless at 11:08 PM on May 17, 2007

After copying the disk you could try booting the computer in dos mode and see if you can access the folder and file that way. Sometimes you can then copy the file onto a floppy or another hard drive or another folder.
posted by JJ86 at 5:41 AM on May 18, 2007

If we're talking about a master's thesis, i too advise you to first do a backup and then do data recovery on the backup.

The very act of backing up can be quite tricky if your disk is damaged. If your confortable tools fail you, the last hope will probably be dd_rescue. This would be a Linux tool. I'm guessing that if you can't use it yourself, you'll be willing to pay your local Linux dude to help you.

Once you have a backup, there are many tools to try and recover data. My best results (by far) with an easy-gui tool were obtained with Ontrack EasyData Recovery. You can easily download it from eMule and pay for it later if you feel so inclined.

If all else fails, your last hope is an shamanistic sysadmin ritual called datacarving. Use a tool such as Foremost and just feed it whatever backup you managed to do.

Use this as a reminder to backup next time.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:30 AM on May 18, 2007

Run some sort of disk checking program. chkdsk is for dos. You can make a boot disk, boot off that, and run it. If it's just that folder that fucks things up, it's quite likely some minor file system fuck up. They can usually be repaied.
posted by chunking express at 7:52 AM on May 18, 2007

Show up at your local Linux User Group and ask the geeks there. Linux has powerful disk repair tools, that are more powerful than Windows', even for Windows disks. Go speak with the geeks that knows how to yield them.

Data recovery requires a certain amount of expertise. Nonexperts should learn to do frequent backups.
posted by gmarceau at 8:09 AM on May 18, 2007

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