File retrieval from a crashed drive

Give us a seminar, lecture or lesson on what your 'thing' is. Now with our exclusive ASK-A-NERD!!!
User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 18120
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:44 am
Contact:

File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by Hermit » Thu May 14, 2015 6:42 am

As mentioned in another thread, my desktop's C drive has died. On start-up the computer reports "one or more unrecoverable sectors". Booting the OS has become impossible.

I downloaded an iso file from a company called Runtime Software. It's a Linux bootable livedisc based on Knoppix and turned out to have a huge variety of very good diagnostic and recovery programs and indeed, it could see the dead drive. The NTFS recovery module revealed that only a small proportion of sectors were actually unrecoverable. That's the good news. The bad news is that all the modules are "evaluation" versions. A more accurate description would be crippleware, for you can't actually do the thing you really need to: copy recovered files to another disk. To do that I'd need to buy an activation key at a cost of something north of 100 Australian dollars. Since the period between the last backup and the crash is only about six weeks, I regretfully kiss them goodbye if it comes to that rather than spending the money.

Piscator volunteered to help me retrieve whatever can be retrieved running a Linux based program called dd. It would make a disk image and involves some rather arcane and cryptic commands and switches. All the sites that are designed to assist using them assume the reader is already familiar with the nuts and bolts of the OS. It's like reading instructions written for a fully qualified and experienced motor mechanic on how to optimise the power of a supercharger.

Another hurdle is that dd does not simply copy whatever can be retrieved to another disk. It clones it. The difference is that for the former only requires another disk with enough free space to accommodate the copied stuff. From what I understand, cloning turns the entire other disk, or at least a volume of it into a mirror image of the damaged one. It seems in order to do that I'd at least have to create a new partition on my replacement disk, which is 2 T in size or reformat and use the lot.

So, the question is: Does anyone know of a freeware program that can be mounted on a liveCD (or DVD) and does what the paid for version of Runtime's NTFS recovery module will do? Apart from searching for one on the internet I have downloaded and looked at the Knoppix liveCD (version 7.4.2). If something like that is there, I missed it, which would not be surprising because I know SFA about Linux.

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Thu May 14, 2015 11:07 am

This whole line about. "It's best to learn Linux as you configure a system from scratch" is a rather mean notion to implant in a newb, innit? Get a entry sort of Linux, like Mint.
CentOS is good too, but is a little tougher to start on because it enforces more security protocols and has a different package system than the Debian-based Linuxes like Mint and Ubuntu.

Thoughts for you:
There's no difference between a clone and a copy. dd will clone (copy) partitions, sectors, blocks, databases, files, records, bytes, and bits. If dd does not see a partition on the target drive, it does not care. It copies sequentially from the first bit to the last, which includes all existing formatting. You can use it for everyday backups and burning DVDs if you want. Easiest for the job at hand is to dupe the entire drive, then extend the partition to fit the new drive. This is the classic "Disc Cloning" operation. Now you have a backup to do whatever you want to do next, like try to recover the old drive.

If you can "Mount" the drives and see what's in them in the Linux file manager (which is likely since Knoppix (Debian) could), then you can format the new drive and drop files and folders on it. Copy/Paste files from one drive to the other from the desktop of any Linux Live CD.




Do you just want to nab those 6 weeks of missing backups and call it a day?
Do you want to try to re-establish your Windows system?
Do you want to move to Linux? (Not hard to start with Linux Mint Mate live dvd or USB, which will have all the tools we need to proceed and wont hit you up for $100.)
All the above?

Whatever we do, let's be organized and systematic. This should come very naturally to you. :tea:

User avatar
pErvinalia
Off his meds
Posts: 45070
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:08 pm
About me: Now with 50% less ranting!
Location: dystopia
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by pErvinalia » Thu May 14, 2015 11:34 am

Just get any old live linux distro (go to distrowatch.com) and it will be able to read whatever is readable on your hard drive. If it turns out that it is corrupted and unable to be read, then yeah, you might need some recovery software. If you want to clone a drive, just get Clonezilla. It's easy and works.
Sent from my penis using wankertalk.
"The Western world is fucking awesome because of mostly white men" - DaveDodo007.
"Socialized medicine is just exactly as morally defensible as gassing and cooking Jews" - Seth. Yes, he really did say that..
"Seth you are a boon to this community" - Cunt.
"You know you blokes didn't criticize Obama. You're lying. - Forty Two. Umm - http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=42144

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Thu May 14, 2015 1:00 pm

Not necessarily a bad plan. But I was figgurin' he'd load up a Mint or CentOS usb, learn how to call up a terminal and su - , backup his shit, then install the CentOS or Mint Mate, man. :tea:

Choosing a distro by the name or the logo isn't always the best way. Moreover, if someone wants to talk him into Gentoo, or Arch, or something equally stupid, then I'll fuck off and let that person expound about the glories of having to build your first car before you learn to drive.

User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 18120
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:44 am
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by Hermit » Thu May 14, 2015 1:45 pm

piscator wrote:I was figgurin' he'd load up a Mint or CentOS usb, learn how to call up a terminal and su - , backup his shit, then install the CentOS or Mint Mate, man. :tea:
Think I will, actually. XP is 32 bit only and on the way out. Micro$oft no longer supports it and soon anti-virus programs will follow suit. I don't like Win 7 and totally loathe Win 8.1 . For reasons mentioned elsewhere I will not touch any Apple offerings. My options are increasingly limited.

It's not as though I can't learn command line stuff, having started with MSDOS 3 point something before it reached the sophistication of adding the doskey app., and I have written DOS-BASIC programs as well as macros for Lotus 123 DOS version 2.15.

First step is to figure out if the desktop's BIOS can be configured to boot from a USB stick. Currently it is set to look at the optical drive first, then C:. There are some other options, including USB floppy, Zip and CD ROM. If I can use one of the latter in order to boot from a thumb drive I'm good to go.

Well, I will be as soon as I get my arse into gear.

User avatar
pErvinalia
Off his meds
Posts: 45070
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:08 pm
About me: Now with 50% less ranting!
Location: dystopia
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by pErvinalia » Thu May 14, 2015 1:55 pm

Just get Mint. Very little need to use the command line. It basically works straight out of the box. And that can't be said for a hell of a lot of linux distros.
Sent from my penis using wankertalk.
"The Western world is fucking awesome because of mostly white men" - DaveDodo007.
"Socialized medicine is just exactly as morally defensible as gassing and cooking Jews" - Seth. Yes, he really did say that..
"Seth you are a boon to this community" - Cunt.
"You know you blokes didn't criticize Obama. You're lying. - Forty Two. Umm - http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=42144

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Thu May 14, 2015 9:59 pm

We know nothing of Hermit's hardware. Hopefully, it can run a 64-bit OS.

Seeing as we now know we're going to replace OSs, we can start with the idea that we're going to boot up Mint 17 Mate, then check the old drive to see if we can see Hermit''s data.
If we can see the data, we're good to disconnect the old drive and install Mint on the new.
Once we've got Mint 17 Mate installed, we can then go on to connect the old drive, mount it, and pull the good shit off it.
If the old drive is mechanically sound, we can format it to ext4 or something and use it for extra storage or cold backups or whatever.

User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 18120
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:44 am
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by Hermit » Fri May 15, 2015 4:16 am

Last night I created a bootable memory stick that loads 64 bit Mint. The desktop's mobo can run the Knoppix liveCD, so I see no reason why it won't handle the thumb drive. Next, I set the BIOS to look for the thumb drive first to boot with. The setting turns out to be USB-HDD. The POST went straight past it and into looking for the second setting, which is CD-ROM. Not finding a disk in that drive, it of course did not see the busted HD and gave up.

I wiped out the content of the thumb drive and recreated it again, in case I made a dud on my first attempt due to fat finger error or something. Still nothing. Tried different USB sockets. Nada. So, back to the laptop. Changed its boot settings, turned it off and rebooted - straight into Mint. Tadaah!

So, why can't the fucking laptop do that? After chasing the problem up into some blind alleys, I discovered that the BIOS on the poetically named gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H motherboard is notorious for being blind in that regard. Various revisions of it have fixed that and later revisions have undone the fix, so I'm not quite sure which one does what. Discussion on forums looks divided on the matter.

I think the next step is to contact Gigabyte's support site. And learn how to flash the CMOS. Or jus whack Mint onto the new disk and be done with it. I just don't like getting beaten by a problem that I know I can, or ought to be able to - fix. None of this is rocket surgery, FFS.

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Fri May 15, 2015 5:36 am

Hermit wrote:Last night I created a bootable memory stick that loads 64 bit Mint. The desktop's mobo can run the Knoppix liveCD, so I see no reason why it won't handle the thumb drive. Next, I set the BIOS to look for the thumb drive first to boot with. The setting turns out to be USB-HDD. The POST went straight past it and into looking for the second setting, which is CD-ROM. Not finding a disk in that drive, it of course did not see the busted HD and gave up.

I wiped out the content of the thumb drive and recreated it again, in case I made a dud on my first attempt due to fat finger error or something. Still nothing. Tried different USB sockets. Nada. So, back to the laptop. Changed its boot settings, turned it off and rebooted - straight into Mint. Tadaah!

So, why can't the fucking laptop do that? After chasing the problem up into some blind alleys, I discovered that the BIOS on the poetically named gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H motherboard is notorious for being blind in that regard. Various revisions of it have fixed that and later revisions have undone the fix, so I'm not quite sure which one does what. Discussion on forums looks divided on the matter.

I think the next step is to contact Gigabyte's support site. And learn how to flash the CMOS. Or jus whack Mint onto the new disk and be done with it. I just don't like getting beaten by a problem that I know I can, or ought to be able to - fix. None of this is rocket surgery, FFS.

All you can do with a CMOS is pull the CMOS battery, which will reset it to defaults with last known firmware when you put it back. If possible, burn a Mint CD or DVD to boot from (non UEFI) before you monkey with motherboard firmwares.
You should be able to get a Live desktop with an internet connection before you install Mint, although that has little to do with whether Mint will install and boot properly if you get an install prompt.
You're past this now, but the way to check to see if a USB or CD is bootable is to check for a "vmlinuz" or something similar among several other folders on the media, rather than a single uncompressed .iso, But booting something from the media is always 100%. :mrgreen:

You seem to be on top of what's happening and what needs to happen, so good for you so far. :tup:
When you figure it out, it will probably be something like a single setting. Compare to changing a truck tire on the side of the road, where figuring out the problem is easy, and fixing it is hard. .
BTW it is rocket science, in a way. And what you are doing in trying to get a complex machine to function is exactly what rocket scientists and engineers do every day. :mrgreen:

User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 18120
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:44 am
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by Hermit » Fri May 15, 2015 7:30 am

When I mentioned flashing the CMOS I should have said upgrading the BIOS to a version that works as far as booting from a thumb drive is concerned. At this stage I don't particularly want to get rid of the XP pro OS I installed on the new hard disk, nor do I want to stuff around with dual booting options. A thumb drive with a persistent data file seems preferable to starting with a CD or DVD ROM.

If by "single setting" you mean my problem to boot from a USB stick, there are actually three that are meant to be set correctly in order to enable the process: Boot option sequence, enable legacy USB mode, and enable storage facility, or something similar, the exact terminology I cannot now recall. It is the third one that cannot be found in my current BIOS, so you may be right. It's also a reason why I think I need to upgrade the thing regardless of which OS I'll be using. Then again, this box is six years old now. It won't be all that long before it won't be able to cope with future hardware and software developments at all. To begin with, the mobo's chipset will never be able to support UEFI, so any drive beyond about 2T is a waste of money.

And yes, projects like my current one are a bit like rocket science - in so far as they involve heaps more drudgery than intellectual dexterity. I have written a few little programs in the past and found two things about the process: 1) You spend more time debugging than writing it. 2) Too often I discovered the even when the result is finally doing what I meant to do, it is usually an inelegant and inefficient kludge. It's the latter that requires intellectual creativity, and I'm not good at that. So, no rocket surgery ever happens at chez moi. It's all pedestrian engineering of the mediocre kind.

That said, I might just finish up bypassing the BIOS problem and simply install Mint on the new disk anyway, with the intention to implement the original project design and then not doing that because what I got works well enough. The idea is to ultimately run a Linux box with the capability of running legacy 32 bit programs I have come to rely on (most notably Lotus 123, which Win 8 refuses to even install) in emulation mode or whatever.
Last edited by Hermit on Fri May 15, 2015 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Fri May 15, 2015 7:34 am

Run XP or whatever in a VM. No one dual boots anymore.

User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 18120
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:44 am
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by Hermit » Fri May 15, 2015 8:01 am

That is, as I said, what will ultimately happen. Doubling the RAM to 8MB might be a good idea to speed the VM up, but that's no problem. Memory sticks are dirt cheap now. The first quote I got for an upgrade was something like 800 bucks to go from one MB to four and 40 to get a '386 mobo with matching CPU. That was in 1990 or whenever it was that Windows 3.1 came out. I installed that DOS overlay on my '286 as soon as it went on sale, and it immediately turned into a thing that would get run over by a snail coming from behind.

In the end I got the entire upgrade for almost nothing, basically because I was very good to an IBM wholesaler I delivered freight to and picked up from. The cost was bequeathing the '286 mobo, CPU and RAM to the junior techie who did the swap for me. The "new" hardware came from the company's old server which had been replaced by a '486.

I added a paragraph to my previous post.

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Fri May 15, 2015 10:50 am

If you want to install Mint, then it doesn't matter if your Mint thumb drive has persistent memory or what media it was installed from, as long as it installs.
If your chipset doesn't support UEFI, you may be stuck installing off CD. The whole thing about EFI/UEFI is a goofy mess, and in the case of USB boot, it may come down to the tool you used to write the media.
See if Mint will boot from a CD or DVD, if the machine in question has an optical disc reader. Reflashing your BIOS isn't particularly safe. Don't undertake that chore unless you have to.

Flatpicking practice is over here as it's almost 3AM. I'll check back later in the day.

User avatar
piscator
Posts: 4725
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:11 am
Location: The Big BSOD
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by piscator » Sat May 16, 2015 3:30 am

rec00005.mp3
(1.21 MiB) Downloaded 3897 times
OK back. You got that thing to boot yet? :ask:

User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 18120
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:44 am
Contact:

Re: File retrieval from a crashed drive

Post by Hermit » Sat May 16, 2015 5:47 am

Yes. I burnt a liveDVD (Linux Mint), and booted up from there. Then I installed it to the new drive, took the DVD out and rebooted from the new drive.

Clicking on "Computer" shows up the new drive, but clicking on that gives me a message saying it is unable to mount the drive and no hint about what to do about that.

The BIOS reports the location of the new disk to be on IDE Channel 3 Master and the damaged one on IDE Channel 3 Master. I have disconnected the latter for now, for I don't want it spinning until I'm about to retrieve whatever can be retrieved. I figured that the more it spins the greater the likelihood of it losing more sectors.

So, the next task is to mount the new drive. After that, how to transfer the image of the old to the new disk without munting Mint in the process. Is there a way to set a path to stay clear of the OS?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests