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Vista Home Prem, data recovery.

Posted on 2010-09-12
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I have a dell computer with Vista Home Prem, that is giving me the data backup message at the boot asking to press f1 to continue, it goes as far as the vista logo and nothing else, I've tried to run chkdsk from booting on windows vista cd but it can't see any OS installed on the computer, I've also tried to plug the drive on a usb adapter on a different computer however it gives me access to the recovery partition but no access to the c: partition. Any suggestions?

Thanks
jdff
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Question by:jdff
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by:rindi
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Run getdataback on the HD from that 2nd PC. If it sees the files you need backed up, register the tool and then you can copy the files to that other PC.

http://runtime.org

After that replace the HD (or get a warranty replacement from the manufacturer, provided it is still under warranty).
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by:nobus
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here a list of good Free/not free recovery soft :
http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/UK/welcome.htm      pc Inspector -FREE -
      http://www.piriform.com/recuva/download/standard            FREE  -  Recuva
http://www.stellarinfo.com/                              Stellar
http://www.runtime.org/                              GetDataBack

it can be some bad sectors; in that case HDD regenerator often helps.
runthe free trial, and check if it finds a bad sector - then buy it, and run the complete disk
http://www.dposoft.net/      
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ocanada_techguy earned 500 total points
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First, what data is at risk?  Do you have good backups?  If there is user data on the drive that you need to backup, THAT should be job one first.  

One way to do that is to use deep recovery software, like the list @nobus posted.  What one of these will do is more-or-less ignore the table of contents and instead look at the raw chunks of file blocks, pieceing files together by following the predecessor and successor pointers such that all the pieces from the first to the last of any given file are accounted for.

However, there is another way you may be able to get your data off the drive that is not a tedious and laborious, so I would try the following ideas first.
You may be able to "see" your files by booting with a so-called "live CD", that is, a CD that boots it's own little version of Linux, or Unbutu, or WinPE, etc.  What seems to happen is Linux is far more forgiving and will go ahead and mount and examine the filesystem for contents irrespective of whether the table of contents is somewhat corrupt, so, you might actually see most of your datafiles and be able to take a backup copy of the important data at risk.

Download and burn the Parted Magic Linux live CD: www.partedmagic.com  After booting off it, first test if this specialized Linux recovery system will recognize your drive per se, by clicking the 'Mount' icon on the desktop and trying to mount the drive. If this shows your files, they will be accessible; so simply connect an additional drive such as an external drive, mount it as well, then copy.

Another linux boot way to try to backup copy your files, is to try Paragon Rescue Kit free trial to copy out data from the drive via File Transfer Wizard.  http://www.paragon-software.com/  

What's probably happened is the partition table is comewhat corrupt, which explains why when connected as an auxilliary drive to another machine you see the recovery partition but not the main Vista windows partition that would be C when in it's usual machine.

One way this could happen is if there are serious bad sectoring near the beginning of the disk.  I just fixed more of less the same problem, as repeated attempts to repair Vista with the vista CD wasn't working, until, I used SpinRite 6 to scan the drive, and sure enough it had unrecovereable errors near the beginning of the disk.  After that was adressed then using Vista automatic repair worked.
Alternative to SpinRite 6, you could use HDDRegenerator.  
In theory, you could try chkdsk with the /R option to set aside bad sectors, however I don't like that since chkdsk /R does a LOWSY job of recovering anything off the bad sectors, it gives up too quickly, so it sets them aside, remaps them to spare sectors, but all affected files generally contain zeroes in those blocks.  SpinRite retries literally hundreds of times, uses scientific signal variance analysis and data sampling techniques to reconstitute much if not all the data (in my example, some of it failed, hence "un"recoverable blocks, but they're still set-aside forever reallocated to spare)
So when you say you tried chkdsk it was just /P or /F to try to rectify filesystem corruption or was it /R ?

So I would try SpinRite.  HDDRegenerator is a program that does a similar job.  Once those bad sectors have been dealt with, THEN let the Vista CD try to rectify the system and it will likely succeeed.

Other than what I've advised, do NOT use some "disk doctoring" program that claims to fix it, as some programs could make the situation worse.

Another way partition table in addition to filesystem corruption, but mostly filesystem corruption happens is repeated improper shutdowns.  When it comes to external/USB attached drives, that includes failing to use the proper "safe to remove hardware" tool in Windows, failing to use the Eject in Apple OS.

Should it turn out to be more complicated, the TestDisk (http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk) could help; and it just so happens you will find testDisk installed inside the Parted Magic applications menu.
Please refer to this guide: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step  TestDisk claims to even be able to repair a damaged MFT.  
The Paragon software also has excellent repair capabilities to it.
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by:rindi
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From the description of the problem on the drive (having to press F1 at bootup prompt to continue) suggests a SMART error. SMART error are hardware errors where when your lucky and react early enough, the drive still may work, but you must act to replace the Disk asap. For that reason there isn't much point in trying to repair the disk after the data has been saved. Disks with SMART errors need to be replaced.
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by:ComputerBeast
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Attach the hard drive to another computer and then use Windows Vista data recovery software. http://www.windowsrecoverysoftware.com/
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