Ever have encounter a drive gone bad? That is exactly what happened to me over the weekend. I had a perfectly viable drive that fell off a shelf. It looked OK, but when I went to plug it in, Windows didn’t see it. It didn’t have anything critical on it, but it wasn’t totally backed up to another file. Lesson one – always have multiple backups on everything that means something to you.
I started the Windows Administrative Tools -> Computer Management (needs to be launched as administrator) and then opened Disk Management. The drive was visible to this tool and a partition was showing, but Windows didn’t mount it. The partition was healthy but in a protected state (I don’t remember exactly what that state was).
I then did something stupid — which we’re all prone to do at 5AM. I looked for information about that partition state on the Internet and what to do about it. The recommendation was to clean the drive – sound benign right? I used to Windows Diskpart command to ‘clean’ the drive. Now, I was left with a drive with no partitions!!! The only hope was a real drive analysis to find the files off the partition.
I went digging on the web for a tool that would analyze the drive and pull the files off. There are many them out there for a price, but I was looking for something open source. I stumbled across TestDisk (an open source partition recovery tool from CGSecurity). This looked like exactly what I wanted, and it had a detailed wiki with step-by-step instructions. Using this tool is not for the faint of heart, some technical background is required, but did the job.
I started the analysis, found the partition, told it where I wanted the files copied on another drive and recovered the files – success. It only took the better part of a day.
The purpose of this post is more to archive what I did, so I (and others) can find it later. I hope I never have to go through this again.