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Somehow one of my partitions disappeared (I didn't even have the disk manager open, so I'm really not sure how that happened). The volume was simply deleted. It was an NTFS partition, created under XP and used from XP/7/Ubuntu.

One of the Microsoft KB articles suggested recreating the volume and running a dskprobe utility. I created and did not format the volume, same size, drive letter, all that. My system apparently (neither XP nor 7) doesn't have that tool.

Not thinking clearly (losing the partition was just another nicety on top of a few other computer messes yesterday), I decided to try other tools to recover the partition. In the process, I deleted it, quick-formatted it, and then recovered it using another tool. I think I over-wrote the backup file table in the process.

I know all the data is still present and valid: it's been untouched since losing the partition and I tried running a file-recovery tool, which recovered a few pictures in perfect quality out of the free space. Unfortunately, the main files I need to get back are some customized Linux disc images (ISO format), which just happen to be linked to my boot menu (boot-from-ISO). There's about a dozen, ranging from 50 MB to 4.5 GB in size (basic system tools and console to a fully customized, pre-installed copy of Ubuntu). I can get/make them all again, but I'd rather just grab the data.

So, summary:

Lost partition, lost file index table, know data is present and in perfect condition, need to recover files (names don't matter), ISO format especially.

I have and can work from XP, 7x64, and Ubuntu x64. I have plenty of free space on other partitions, enough to copy the whole missing partition even, certainly enough to store recovered files. There is no file-system/partition in the space holding the lost files at the moment.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Edit: I've tried a few free tools. I'd rather not spend money, but I may spend a little bit for a good tool.

This shouldn't be a difficult problem. The partition was 99.9% defragmented (I ran TuneUp 2010's defrag in forced thorough mode just a day or so before, and had only added a few large files, no deletes). All the files should be in nice neat order, all in a row. Prime candidate for data-carving, if there are any good tools that can do this.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First, since you have the disk space, make a backup, just in case.

Here are a few tools available in Ubuntu that you can try:

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dd and dd-rescue are standard Linux block copy programs. –  Hello71 Aug 22 '10 at 14:50
1  
@Hello71: dd is useful when you know exactly where the data you're looking for is, but here the point is to locate the data; I think all the tools I've mentioned will do all the extraction work as a trivial afterthought. ddrescue has a usefulness of its own: it tries very hard to extract data from a failing disk; in particular, the best workflow if you're trying to recover data from a failing disk is to back up with ddrescue, then if the filesystem is damaged recover files with data recovery tools. –  Gilles Aug 22 '10 at 15:11

Try TestDisk's companion, PhotoRec. It supposedly supports the following formats: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/File_Formats_Recovered_By_PhotoRec.

GetDataBack also seems to be a decent file recovery tool.

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This recovered some of the files. Got a few of the ISOs back and about 300,000 others (there weren't that many to begin with). Unfortunately not many of the ones I needed. If other tools can't retrieve more, I'll probably accept this answer. –  ssube Aug 20 '10 at 17:46

use TestDisk , you can use this utility in console mode. should work in XP (not sure about win7) http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

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Tried it. Recovers an empty partition, without a single file. Recovery tools that tend more toward a data-carving approach can get the files out, but I can't find any that can just go over the whole partition and grab each file. Perhaps I ran it wrong? –  ssube Aug 19 '10 at 20:25
    
@peachykeen: Are you sure you selected the correct partition? –  Hello71 Aug 19 '10 at 20:28
    
@Hello71: Yep, absolutely sure. There's only on 170-gig "empty" spot on my HDDs. :p –  ssube Aug 19 '10 at 20:36
    
@peachykeen: Try the "Deeper Search" option. It will take quite a while, though, especially if you have a large drive. –  Hello71 Aug 22 '10 at 14:49

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