Sunday, March 6, 2005

Computer Disaster Story

It is with a sobbing heart I relate to you my recent computer disaster on one of my office computers which was the "main server" on our peer-to-peer network. The story is for you all to learn from my mistakes.

Our main server has been serving us for 4-5 years started off with Win 98 which I later upgraded to Win XP and as you all must have guessed this upgrade literally killed the speed of the processor and it now used to take ages to complete simple tasks as it had a P3 256MB RAM, so one fine day 'yours truly' decided that it is essential to downgrade to Win 98 SE, which I felt would be more generous to my aging processor.

Scenario: I have two partitions divided equally on the 40GB HD so in preparation for the Extreme Makeover I moved everything over to the secondary partition which was the D: Drive. Booted up with a boot disk CD, which I was lucky to pull out of my CD-wallet and found it also carried a copy of Win 98SE - Perfect I thought, the computer Gods must have an eye out for me, little did I know then that it was the evil eye ;)

Using that old boot-disk I started the computer searched via the DOS prompts and found only the C drive tried in vain to locate the D drive but turned up empty, I presumed it was some reading glitch and presumed that the C Drive would still exist so I continued to format C - BIG MISTAKE #1. Copied Win 98 files from the CD to the Hard Disk via the Dos prompts - MISTAKE #2

I then ran the 98 installer but it kept prompting me that there was an invalid file system, hence I jumped to FDisk found that C Drive which was being labelled as a Non-Dos file system (ofcourse I had thought then, Stupid me Win 98 does not run on NTFS) and D Drive was labelled as an Extended Dos System (See the D Drive was safe and sound - I was happy). I continued the process in Fdisk and deleted the C Non-Dos partition and re-installed it as a DOS primary partition - MISTAKE #3. Once this error was solved the Win 98 continued to do a full clean installation of Win 98 on the computer. Finally when it got done I opened up explorer and to my horror no data existed and my critical D drive which was a literaliy a clean slate apart from the Win 98 installation folder and nothing else. Shocked at the loss of all my data I was then followed up by a series of panic and heart attacks as I had literaaly misplaced 4 years of unreplacable critical data ;) 0- the old story - never thought it would happen to me.....

After a few hours of sweating I finally figured out the problem and also my mistakes. C drive was the root folder of Win XP so it was formatted in an NTFS system while the D drive was still as an old FAT system, technically when I used the "old boot disk" which was based of a win 98 system boot disk, the computer only read the FAT system and it never could read the C Drive NTFS system so in my ignorance I clean deleted everything on the D Drive (which was being mis-labelled as C Drive). I then copied win 98 installed on D over-writing a lot of the primary data on D Drive. C Drive continued to exists until ..... I Fdisk'ed it later and now I had technically destroyred all existing data and had myself a virgin system.

I downloaded Bart's PE Builder and also installed a *cracked* version of Getdataback NTFS and FAT version (a good data recoverng software) and ran it from the Bart's Protected Enviroment CD this ensured that all the scanning etc was done off the CD and no data got overwritten on the Hard Disk in an attempt preserve it as much as I now possibley could - too late but I needed each and every inch of the data on the Hard Disk, with the GetDataBack FAT I scanned my D drive which was FAT based and luckily found ALL the data and recovered it to my C Drive.

Moral of the story
- be careful when you format hard drives pay special attention to the file systems, but if incase you accidentally do destroy any hard drive don't worry carry around a version of the Bart's PE CD (A must have for all techies) and recover data with GetDataBack it will almost surely recover all the data. Many people have told me and I again tell you critical data needs to be backed up onto CD's. I have indeed learnt my lesson ;) the hard way

Bart's PE Link
GetDataBack Link