Data recovery on seemingly corrupt FAT32 120 gig drive
Posted on 2006-06-30
First off a few facts, my drive is a samsung 120 gig drive which I have owned and used with the same partition since aug 2003. I have not defragged the drive (which is usually near full, often) since late december 2004, and even then it took nearly 36 to 48 hours, I don't remember off the top of my head. The operating system is Windows XP Pro and the partition was all Fat 32.
Anyways, here's what was happening before the serious problem I had.
Days before, windows disc check ran every time I rebooted the machine, even on a legal and normally fine reboot.. I assumed I would fix this in time with a few reboots, hopefully, or find a way.. as usually this never concerned me i nthe past, but when I let it run through disc check, it took a ridiculously long time, I'm saying an hour or more, when it usually took maybe ten minutes or so usually. I found that odd, so I thought I would make a note of that (i assumed it was teh lack of defrag catching up to me and maknig the drive even thus slower)
Anyways, one friday I was using my machine like usual, and I am a person of the computer technical field, I love computers, and spend many many hours a day on my own comptuer at home, so I'm quite aware of changes and whatnot and usually always have it on, except to let it rest every now and then.
So I was running as usual, I went to save a chat within AIM (irrelevant), and usually it goes straight to the folder it last saved in, but this time it went to the AIM program folder, which is usually the default directory to save in with aim when you first install it or have a problem with it or whatnot. I click on the "My Documents" button o nthe windows XP save as prompt window and get something along the lines of "C:\ drive is not formatted or partitioned, format? OK. Cancel" Or something to that effect. The C:\ was the only hard drive I had on this machine, and obviously I was working fine on the C drive and this folder (My documents) was obviously in that drive. So I found that odd, and scary... I may have double clicked the "my documents" on my desktop and gotten the same error, I can't recall, but then I went straight to C:\Documents and settings\(myusername which is Enduser)\ and right clicked "My Documents" and it began to compile the numbers for the amounts of folders and files in it, listenng them normally... i let it do that till it stopped then closed that and double clicked it... and it openned normally, not slower or anything ... all the thumbnails, the view i had set to it was all there and all. Everyhting worked fine. I closed that and openned it from my desktop. Perfect. I went to save the file again and it went through and I was able to save it. It worked.... then, it could have been a few minutes or it could have been an hour, I didn't keep track of time, but it happeend again... but this time nothnig I did 'fixed' it. It would not allow me to access my documents, giving me the same 'error' as before. I right clicked on my C:\ drive in "My Computer" to be sure it still listed the same amount of used space as before, which was 900mbish short of being full, which it did indeed say, so I felt relief.
I decided mabye I should let the disc check run and that will fix things after some time of trying to get it to work myself... disc check started to run... slowly, I might add, but usually the first few percents ran that way, so I wasn't sure if it was the same as the problem. Anyways it said "
Folder \FOUND.006 is entirely unreadable.
Folder entry removed.
11 percent complete.
I took a picture with my camera phone just to be sure for future referance just like this. Anyways this scared me, it made me think that maybe it may delete "My documents". So I decided to take out the hard drive and put it as a slave in another windows xp pro (NTFS 120 gig) machine I had around to see what I could do or if I got the same error. And so I did.
Here is where the problem seemingly got to it's peak and where it was untill now. I right-clicked the drive in the new machine to make sure it read 900ish short of being full again, which it did, thankfully. I openned it up and went into "Documents and Settings". Mind you, there was only one user on this machine, Enduser.. but there were obviously the normal folders for windwos XP pro: All Users, Administrator [Enduser]. I double clicked enduser and I got the same 'error' I got with my documents when I was running the machine before. "this is odd" I thought, I was just running this machine a moment ago! I was very scared at this point, and tried all I could. I opened disc defrag. and clicked the analyze, it said (I think, if I remember correctly) that specifically folder Enduser was corrupted or some odd thing. I could not completely recall that message either or if it specifically said enduser folder.
I caleld a friend who recommended a data recovery center in my area and to talk to them. While I was talknig to this friend I decided to bite the bullet and try to fully run disc check to see what it would do if it entirely ran. It ran, slowly... re-removed (so it seemed) the same \FOUND.006 folder and even one with 003 on it as well... as well as otehr folders which were in programfiles in seemingly random areas (directories in directories ect). But then after a whilke it said
something something. I could not remember the whole message, but that much of it I was sure of. At this point instead of a percentage of the disc check running it just showed the period below the Folder (Null) message, which I assumed was an error about being able to read enduser. It didn't say it remembered it, but some sort of error or read problem with it.
I tried rebooting again to let windows load, but it would freeze if I tried safe mode or anything. My thoughts were because the only useable user folder (the only user that showed on the user selection screen was Enduser normally) was "Enduser" that windows would not be able to load up at all.
And there is where things ended. I went to this data recovery center a few days later and gave them the drive, told them the problem, and over a week and some days later they did not reply to me after I paid an analysis fee. I called and to be frank (I can elaborate o nthis if need be later) they said they could not recover all the data and never saw anyhting so corrupted ect ect, but frankly they did not sound too professional to me, and they were going to charge me (they said) $900ish for whatever recovery they would be able to aquire by three buisness days from then.
Anyways, this is where I stand. I don't feel confident in these recovery people, and I was holding someone here could give me advice. I was very intimate with this drive so I know it well enough to answer any questions... and everyhting after the events in question I've tried to remember perfectly in a case such as this where I have to retell the story.
I am hoping someone could give me advice or help me with this situation.