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Win7 crash - file recovery possible?

Posted on 2012-09-04
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Last Modified: 2012-09-05
Our corporate IT support contractor installed Symantec Endpoint Encryption on my Win7 development laptop - on rebooting we got blue screen of death. Windows repair did not work, either from the installed instance of Win7 or from the Win7 install disk. They are telling me the only alternative now is to re-image the hd. I'm not sure I trust them 100% - is there any chance, no matter how small, that it might be possible to recover some files from the hd before they blow it away? They have a one-size-fits-all approach to fixing things and have zero interest in helping me recover my data. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Question by:dgmoore1
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by:TomRScott
TomRScott earned 1125 total points
ID: 38366071
Symantec's Step by Step Article on Data/file Recovery

Unfortunately, the first step is calling your help desk.  Looks like you can skip that.

Stupid question, but did you ask if your "IT support" performed a backup prior to encrypting your drive?

Flip side, aside from laptops, most corporate IT departments (especially the more effecient ones) discourage storing user data on local hard drives.   Even if local drives are backed up regularly, server backups are typically more reliable.

 - Tom
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Author Comment

by:dgmoore1
ID: 38366105
They did not back anything up. I have much, but not all, of my data backed up, but if I could recover some files on the hd it would save me a ton of time and work. I'll refer them to the link you provided, but I'm not confident that they will pay any attention. The problem is that this laptop is one of a small handful of development machines that run OS and applications that are not company standard, so their support is minimal. I don't know if I can fix this myself - I see the Symantec reference to running 'recover /a' but since the computer won't boot I'm not sure how this could be done.
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TomRScott earned 1125 total points
ID: 38366391
I did not go into detail on the SEE recovery process, but you or your IT folks may be able to use the Recover /r option after booting from CD.

Even if it does not work well from a CD boot, it is a breeze to grab a hard drive from a laptop and use it with a USB hook-up on another computer for this type of work.

However, the probability of a successful recovery effort depends firstly on what messed up the OS.  If the encryption was mishandled but the appropriate data was recorded for a recovery, you have a reasonable chance of success.  However, if the encryption process just simply went awry and corrupted the encrypted data as it was put down on the drive or soon thereafter, you may not have much of a chance of success.

The latter is one reason many experienced IT techs backup a drive just prior to a major operation such as encrypting the drive.

Good luck!

 - Tom
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by:web_tracker
web_tracker earned 375 total points
ID: 38366442
There is always a warning to do a backup before the encription process takes place, for reasons such as what you have experienced, bsod in the middle of the encription process. Because the system failed during the encription process it is extemely unlikely you will be able to recover any data. But then that depends upon how far the encription process went. You could try to boot to a recovery cd and see if you can access your hard drive.... but then if the part of the drive that holds your data is already encripted then you mostlikely are out of luck. Paragon harddrive manager suite is pretty good at recovering data. it creates a bootable cd. Or you can try the ultimate boot cd to see if you can access the drive.
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Author Comment

by:dgmoore1
ID: 38367841
Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can read the drive with a USB/SATA adapter. If I can, I'll roll my files off onto a flash drive. If not, I'm SOL and will have to acquire and reinstall all of my lost programs. My  most important work product is backed up, so I am covered there.
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LVL 12

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by:TomRScott
TomRScott earned 1125 total points
ID: 38368787
If the encryption was even partially successful then you will not be able to read your files.

However, if you can get the recovery software from IT.  Then you might be able to recover your files using a USB/SATA adapter.

 - Tom
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Author Closing Comment

by:dgmoore1
ID: 38368920
I'm glad to report that a third attempt to repair the system worked - it ran all night and reported a successful repair this morning. Thanks to all for your comments - they are helpful
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