Yesterday I booted my XP system, and as I looked up a minute later I saw the light blue screen and tail-end of that pre-boot diskcheck Windows sometimes does if it finds an error (or was previously told to run a diskcheck drung the next boot). I didn't worry about it at the moment...
But then I looked at my "scratch" disk, which was a 70% full, 750GB hard disk...and it now looks like it has been freshly formatted. It doesn't have a single file on it, just the hidden "System Volume Information" file and 750GB of freedom from data.
I looked at some of the recovery tools from the Free NTFS partition recovery question and decided to try PC INSPECTOR™ File Recovery 4.x initially. It ran overnight and afterwards returned a list of thousands of files it could recover. The odd thing was that the filenames were lost, but the file extensions were not (WTF?). And all of the files were exactly 1,472kB in size. I recovered a dozen PDFs as a test, and 80% of them displayed OK despite being padded out to 1.5MB (though I assume any files > 1472kB are hosed).
My primary question is: Is this the best I can expect from any file recovery software when trying to recover NTFS files? Or is there perhaps something better out there? I assume this is as good as it gets, but wanted to check in with the experts first.
- What might have happened to my drive? I didn't intentionally format it. I've never seen a disk error cause the drive to suddenly become a clean, reformatted drive. Could some malicious/confused software have told my PC to format my disk on reboot? Is that even a function Windows XP has?
- Why can the file extensions be recovered but not the filename? Does NTFS really treat them as separate entities? I thought I had 8.3 naming turned off, but maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe it looks at the data in the file and guesses the extension?