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File recovery, Windows 7, Geeks worked on it, now I got it!

I have an HP G61-632NR Notebook. We experienced a problem with the laptop not being able to boot to windows. Just a black screen with a flashing curser in the top left corner. The owner brought it to the geeks and I am not sure what they did, but they said that the laptop was done. She left it with them to dispose of. When I heard this I said bring it to me and I will see if I can do anything.

I was able to boot to the desktop, but an external hard drive on it and copy the user profiles off including all hidden folders.

Upon reviewing the results, I have found that there are no personal files. The user profiles have the same creation date as the day the laptop was at the geeks.

The user did not backup their data and is now hoping that since I was able to boot to windows, that I would be able to recover their data.

Is there a free utility that can recover their files?

I don't know if they did a reinstall, it is Windows 7 home premium. I tried to do a restore, but there is only one for SP1 on the day it was at the geeks.

thanks in advance.
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RSchierer
Asked:
RSchierer
4 Solutions
 
Nick RhodeIT DirectorCommented:
Sounds like they wiped the system and did a reinstallation of windows.  It depends on how the techs handled the laptop.  There should be some sort of information on what level of service was provided and what was done on the system.  I was a consultant for a while and typically we backed up the drive before formatting unless stated no data needed from the customer (even then in some cases we backed up the data regardless just to be safe).  I would contact the techs and ask them what was done and if a backup was taken prior to formatting.

There are some tools out there but recoverability of the data is very limited if the drive was wiped and how it was wiped.
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RSchiererAuthor Commented:
thank you for the fast response.

I will ask the client which store the laptop was taken too. Hopefully they will remember what was done.

I know that when I get a computer in, the first thing I do is take an image via Acronois. I can always put the computer back to when I got it should there be a problem.

I also have a call out to the client wanting to know if they are willing to pay for the cost of a utility to recover the data files.  If you know of any please let me know.
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Surone1Commented:
you could try running this: http://www.recovermyfiles.com/
the demo version lets you at least see if there are files to be recovered  :-)
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tliottaCommented:
If it was done using the fastest, most secure method (i.e., the drive's Secure Erase function), then it's practically guaranteed that nothing useful can be recovered. If it was a simple fast-format, then some detail values, or file fragments or some possible smaller complete files, might even be recovered.

Whether or not actual complete files could be constructed gets more complicated as the file lengths increase. Even a few sectors in length starts to ensure full recovery of a file might not be possible. Names of recovered pieces might never be known.

Tom
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nobusCommented:
if you want to try recovery, never boot from that drive, or install anything on it !!
hook it as 2nd drive tio a working PC - and install the recovery soft on it :
here a couple :
http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/UK/welcome.htm      pc Inspector -FREE -
http://www.piriform.com/recuva/download/standard            FREE  -  Recuva

**it seems strange that they said the laptop "was done" and you could boot from it??
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RSchiererAuthor Commented:
a wide variety of options. thanks all!
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