0

If Notepad (the Microsoft Notepad that comes preinstalled with Windows, in my case Windows 7) froze before I had a chance to save the content to a file, is there a way to recover the content? Notepad does not have some kind of "backup" on the hard disk. I don't think in any windows version does notepad keep any data on disk.

It's all in the memory, or if you opened an existing file that has already been stored on disc all the changes are in the memory. So if the task is still there just frozen, the memory should still be there. I got the idea from my first attempt to resolve the issue by "unfreezing" notepad (see How do I analyze a notepad crash? (Windows7)). If unfreezing doesn't work, the problem remains of recovering the data.

Please note, this is a very different scenario form the one stated in the following question: How do we "restore" notepad after crash? There the memory is wiped clean because of the reboot, in my case all the data is still in the memory.

3

If the notepad task/process still exists, the text within notepad is still stored within the computers main memory.

One way to access it is to make a complete memory dump of the process and recover your text from there. It takes me about 5 min (but you most likely need to add some time if you do it for the first few times, depending on your back ground knowledge - consider to add 10-20min). But you will be able to recover your complete text.

To store the memory dump you need a task manager that can store dump files, you can use the Windows build in task manager, personally I use the freeware tool Processhacker.

  • Open your task manager
  • Select the frozen note pad task
  • choose to save a dump file, through the menu or context menu (use "complete dump" if the software gives you a choice there)
  • save the dump file to disk

You can analyse the it using a regular Windows Hex-Editor (for example HxD Hex Editor) and recover your data:

  • Open the memory dump file within the Hex-Editor. It is usually quite large (50.000k or more, even it only showed less 1.000k in the task manager) because it contains much more then just the text your wrote into notepad, most of it unreadable gibberish.
  • To find "your text" within the dump file use the "search" of your HEX-Editor. Search for any part of your text that was in notepad, for example a part of a sentence or a word (make sure you select the right encoding method when searching, usually it's Unicode)
  • Once you find it within the dump file, mark the whole section that contains all your text from notepad
  • Copy and paste it into a "proper" text editor (for example Notepad++, don't use MS notepad because you won't be able to get rid of the special characters as described in the next step)
  • After you pasted your text into a text editor usually you will see a "special character" between each character of your original text you can remove everyone simply remove it by using the "replace all" feature of your text editor (the special character can be added by copy&paste).

Voila, there's you're recovered data...

PS. Some times there is also some further clean up to be done, part of your text might be there two times one time readable one time "half readable. In this case just delete the half readable copy. But it's "always different" so you just need to check if this is the case with your text as well.

PPS. With HxD Hex Editor you can also access the memory directly without saving it to disc first. In the menue under "Extras" click on "Open Memory" (make sure to uncheck the box that hides the "unreadable" memory, when you select your task)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.