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hardware crash?? pls help!!

Dear Experts,

I'm worried about my files.  I'm using windows 98.  I have two hard drives.  drive C is for the system files (like windows folder, program files, etc.) while drive D is for my data files.  In drive D, I have 2 folders.  When I click on a folder in drive D, the sub folders and file names are all displaying strange characters.  Folder names and file names are not readable and I could no longer open the files.  I then switched off my computer and after a few hours, switched it on again.  when i looked at my drive D, the folders are gone!  when i looked at the drive d properties, the whole drive is free space.  what shall i do? how do i recover my files?
hope you could help me out.  thanks very much
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CHICHI120976
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CHICHI120976
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4 Solutions
 
GreenandroidCommented:
This may be a general error that may correct itself, but i suggest treating these files as though they have been deleted. However fear not. When files are deleted, they stay on your hard disk, until overwritten by new data. You stand an extremely good chance of getting all these files back, but you shall have to use file recovery software. I have listed a few below, which once installed, shall be able to recover any files which may have been deleted on your hard disk.

http://www.winrecovery.com/undelete/?rid=google&kid=wu0107
http://www.recovermyfiles.com/
http://www.recover4all.com/
http://www.file-saver.com/undelete/?int=GGL
http://www.smartundelete.com/?id=sugg
http://www.finalrecovery.com/index.htm?source=google

Please be careful when recovering these files, and make sure you read all documentation first... But this should do the trick.
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
thanks very much Greenandroid.  Which of the above would you recommend?  Also, would you advise me to buy the product or is it okay to use the trial version?
Also, what do you mean by "pls be careful when recovering these files"?  What precautions should I take to make my recovery successful?  how do i make sure that he files are not overwritten?  sorry for my questions..i'm not that techie and have no confidence in doing it myself so i would need guidance.  thanks very much.
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
also, i forgot to mention this in my question.  to give you a background on what happened.  i'm also wondering why only the files in the folders got lost.  there are actually around 2 files in the root directory of the drive d and 2 big folders in drive D.  only the 2 big folders got lost but the 2 files are still existing when i viewed in windows explorer.  and when i clicked on the properties of drive D, almost the whole drive pertains to free space.  a very small portion pertains to the file size of the 2 files outside the folders.  can i still recover the big folders?  thanks very much...i'm so worried
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ridCommented:
Greenandroid is quite correct: all file data is left intact until overwritten so don't do anything with this drive except if you use a recovery software. The loss of the folders, and not of the files, may be pure coincidence. This is probably an error in the FAT (File Allocation Table) which is like a contents listing of files and folders on the drive. Some entries may have been lost or corrupted so the system can't find the files or folders anymore (a "folder" is indeed in itself a kind of file).

Precautions: don't write anything to the disk. Don't run any windows utilities like scandisk or checkdisk or defrag.
/RID
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
oh no!  i didn't know...i've run scandisk this morning.  errors were found but i did not proceed with allowing the system to fix the errors.  it's that ok?

is it safe to run the recovery softwares now by myself?
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ridCommented:
As long as you didn't let scandisk "fix" anything, I think you're OK. Advice from Greenandroid is totally sound - run one of the suggested utilities but read the documentation first. Also I'd suggest you take care to shut down all other programs before proceeding with a recovery attempt, just to ensure a stable environment.
/RID
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nobusCommented:
here a list of some other programs : (i heard good things about stellar)

http://www.runtime.org/                                    GetDataBack
http://www.stellarinfo.com/                                    Stellar
http://www.bitmart.net/                                    Restorer 2000
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/restoration.html                        Restoration
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/activeundelete.html                        Active undelete
http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/UK/welcome.htm                  pc Inspector
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/smartrecovery.html                        flash recovery
http://www.ontrack.com/                                    ontrack
http://www.ontrack.com/easyrecoveryprofessional/                  Easy Recovery
http://www.cgsecurity.org                                    Test Disk + utils
http://www.z-a-recovery.com/setup.exe                              zero assumption
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GreenandroidCommented:
CHICHI, you will be quite ok if you run any of the products i suggested above. When files are deleted from your hard disk, they are not overwritten on your hard disk, until  enough new data is added to your hard disk, and hence the old data is overwritten.

I do not suggest that you purchase any of these products, as most are fully functional in a trial period, which should do you fine if you want to recover these files on a one off basis. In regards to precautions with these products, if you can, install them on your (c) drive, and not on the drive where the files have been deleted (your D drive). This is a simple precaution, as installing these programs 'may' overwrite some of the files that were deleted from your hard disk.

Other than this, good luck and i hope you get your files back. I tried some of the programs i originally listed, and all work perfectly on a demo license.

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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
thanks very much guys, i'll try on your suggestions as soon as i get home.  i pray that everything will be recovered. thanks again for the help. i'll keep you posted
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
hi again, i'm still in the process of reading the sites.  
i have a question..would you recommend if i transfer my hard disks to another computer?  i'm thinking that the old computer's fan is not working thus it crashed.  i'm not sure though. pls advise.  thx!
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nobusCommented:
that is the easiest way
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GreenandroidCommented:
I would actually advise against this.

-> Depending on which hard disks you actually have, you could do more damage transferring them from one computor to another. I will give you an example. You mentioned in your original post that you had 2 hard disks currently running. This could just be how your computor is set up, but may also be because both of these are small drives. When i had my first computor, it was running a miniscule 4GB hard drive. In time, i decided to upgrade this to a 40GB hard drive, and without a care in the world, i ripped out the old 4GB drive and put in the new one i had purchased. I'm not necesarily saying this is the case with your computor, but mine didn't like the new drive, and whilst trying to reinsert the 4GB drive, it corrupted it. As a result, i lost all of my files on the 4GB drive, as (in computor technical terms..) it well and truly buggered it!

Again, i'm not neccesarily relating this to your case, but a number of things could happen, in between removing it from your present computor, and putting it into another computor. You stand a better chance of obtaining these files safely if you dont mess with the hard drives. If you think the problem is with your computor fan, i would advise you to look at replacing this first, before making any attempt at removing the hard disks. I would see removing the hard disks as a final option.

Aswell as this, look at it in another way. If you can restore these lost files by means of a simple program, you save yourself the hassle of dismantling your computor, as it drives me insane the number of times i have lost small screws inside the casing.

Regards
- Jay
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
thanks very much jay for that advice.  I  better use the program then.  i'll start fixing this tonight
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
i'm a bit worried because i'm not techie. would it be safe for me to handle this, or i call a techie to do this for me? problem is i do not know of a techie who is expert on this.
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GreenandroidCommented:
You will be fine using the software. I advise you install it on your (c) drive, and run it. It will ask you what drive you wish to scan (select your D drive). It will quickly scan this drive for you, and should produce a list of all the files that it can re-obtain from this drive. Just select the files you wish to restore, and it will restore these files for you. After you have obtained these files again, i would strongly advise you to fix whatever problems there are with your computor (but make sure you have a backup of all the files you need, so you dont risk losing them again).

You should be fine doing as i have outlined above, and if you have successfully retrieved your lost files, we can help you fix whatever problems you have with your computor.
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
thanks again.  may i ask which of the above recovery softwares have you successfully used so i can focus on reading those?  thanks again
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GreenandroidCommented:
From what i remember, i did eventually try all of the pieces of software listed in my original post, and all performed fine for me. I would just advise you to go down the list, and try each piece of software one by one. Try them for yourself.
In a post by nobus, he also recommends using stellar, so trying this might be a good idea too.
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nobusCommented:
Well, look at it this way : all those programs recover data, but they use different software and techniques.
One may work fine in a given case, while performing poorly in another; it depends on what is wrong with the disc structure and it's accessability.  That is why there is no "best" answer. your best bet is to try the trial version, see if they can recover what you want , and buy that.
do not forget NOT TO INSTALL ANYTHING ON THE DRIVE YOU WANT TO RECOVER since that can overwrite the data you want to recover. Best is hooking  the drive to another PC, on which you installed the recovery software.

Good luck !
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
i was able to recover the files but could not open the files.  i used recover4all.com.  when i copied some of the files in another computer via a PC to PC network, the new computer (where files were copied to) has a norton 2005 antivirus and it detects that the files have a vbs.soraci virus so files will be deleted.  my files now are deleted.  pls advise what to do next.  thanks.
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nobusCommented:
if you suspect virus or malware, the best way is to slave the drive to another system and scan it.
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
hi nobus, i read your note after i have already scanned my files.  i tried to open some excel files and the following error message appeared:  [filename].xls cannot be accessed.  The file may be read-only, or you may be trying to access a read-only location.  Or, the server the document is stored on may not be responding.  when i click on the "Retry" button, nothing happens thus, i can no longer open the files!  pls help me resolve my problem.  thanks so much.
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
i was able to recover thru recoverall but still encountering an issue on some files as i cannot open some successfully.  i'm closing this anyway as i think it would be better to raise a new request considering that there were only a few that could not be opened.  guys, thx for the help.
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nobusCommented:
if you right-click on the document(s) and select properties, which ones are ticked? read only, or hidden?
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CHICHI120976Author Commented:
hi nobus, both read only and hidden are not ticked
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nobusCommented:
and is you copy those files on another system? same issue?
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