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I was installing ubuntu over suse 10. I had spent the afternoon carefully backing up my data onto what I thought was a separate disk in my computer (hdb2) but ...
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  1. #1
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    stupid stupid me - need help re disaster recovery


    I was installing ubuntu over suse 10. I had spent the afternoon carefully backing up my data onto what I thought was a separate disk in my computer (hdb2) but turned out to be a separate partition on the same disk (hda2). Can't believe I was so stupid.

    I chose reformat, of course . I stopped the reformat about 30 seconds into things by pulling the plug (literally). I have tried to look at the disk using the storage media function in ubuntu but it says "can't mount the disk - not in fstab or mstab" or words to that effect. Does this mean just that, or does it mean that my partitions are gone and at worst, some of the data. Perhaps someone could help with the correct command to mount the hard disk hda, or a line to add to the fstab to do the same (if the live cd will let me do that?)

    I have a live CD (ubuntu) and two CD Roms. Can anyone advise me what recovery software - hopefully open source, though I'll pay if I have to, that I could run under ubuntu just to see if i can see the content of the disk. Any other advice other than "what a prat" would be greatfully received.

    TIA

    RJ

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer Javasnob's Avatar
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    Don't be so hard on yourself...everyone makes mistakes.

    Try fdisk /dev/hda. This will allow you to see what partitions are on your disk. From that, you may be able to mount them.
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    You probably killed the partitions during the Ubuntu setup - even though you stopped the format, the first thing that the installer does is wipe and recreate the "new" partitions. Hope I'm wrong!!

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    If I've "killed the partitions" does that mean the data itself is gone or "just" the way it is found on the disk?

    I am prepared to use/buy specialist disk recovery software. There are important family photos taken on there recently which were not yet backed up - Iknow, i know.

    Thanks for your input guys.

    RJ

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    Linux User Kojak's Avatar
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    You can almost bet that everything is lost and only professional help (expert data recoverage tools used and a hired company for that task) will help you now if you REALLY need the data back. As the partitioner had 30 seconds to work before you pulled the plug, it is not only the partition tables what are probably broken but the whole basic partitioning structure already removed and a good part of a new format (ext3?) placed on it and broken as the job wasn't completed. Professional recoverage help will be very expensive. It can cost up to 3000 $.
    Windows free since 2002 | computing since 1984

  6. #6
    drl
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    Hi, arjay.

    Sorry to hear of your misfortune.

    I tested gpart once to see how successful it was at guessing the structure of a damaged partition table. It took a long time, but it did seem to identify the previous partition structure. I can't find the notes in my log so I cannot report on whether I went farther to have it re-construct the partition table.

    There are a few other tools mentioned at that URL as well,

    Others may have other suggestions, so file this away to try as a last resort.

    Best wishes and keep us posted ... cheers, drl
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    Thanks guys. Grim news but not entirely unexpected. Certainly prepared to $100 for a recovery program but not three grand. I'm off to face the wife

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    Wait, bud. The data's there, I guarantee it. The issue will be getting to it. Were any of the involved partitions ntfs? That would complicate things. Anyway, reformatting almost never erases the data (and in 30 seconds it can't erase much anyway), it just edits the partition table to say that the data isn't there. You need a partition or data recovery program, and they're easy to find.

    You need to look for a couple pieces of software. One is free: testdisk (http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk). It will recover lost partitions.

    The other shouldn't be free. You can look for it at whereisit.org, or go to their official site (http://www.active-undelete.com/) and it'll be 40 bucks. It's the active@ undelete software, and it's really, really good.

    Take a look at these, they've helped me out of some tough situations before - and you might not have to tell your wife anything

    EDIT: I forgot, there's another piece of software on the http://www.cgsecurity.org/ site that is specifically targeted towards recovering photos. Good luck!

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    attila - what and awful pun, but what a great bringer of news At the moment, I swing wildly between hope and despair. What makes me so annoyed with myself is that I carefully backed up 60 GB of data and config files etc etc before starting to install a new distro. I used to have a second disk in this machine but had taken it out months ago and had forgotten. I backed up to the second parition of the disk I intended to reformat, thinking it was the second hard drive (hda2 v hdb2).

    Anyway - I REALLY appreciate your contribution. I have to go to work today (retired, but marshaling one day a week at the golf course - a killer huh?). I'll give the software a go later. I did look at testdisk (I think I did anyway- so many these past few days) but seem to remember that I was put off by the lack of documentation at newbie level?? I'll revisit it, but am more than happy to pay for some software if there is a reasonable change of recovery. It wasn't ntfs - it was reiserFS which presumably is more difficult than ext2 ...

    Cheers pal

    Richard

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    Reiser won't be a problem. Try the free software first, cause you might not have to spend anything. I'd recommend this order:

    First: Run PhotoRec. Since you're mainly concerned about image files, use this to see what photos you can recover. Unfortunately, you're right: there's very little documentation. I've used TestDisk (it's very, very good), but not PhotoRec (which is written by the same people, so it's probably a solid program), so I can't help you, but it's worth a shot - it might not be hard to use.

    Second: If PhotoRec worked, now run TestDisk to try and recover the whole partition. This isn't too hard, just tell it to scan for partitions. When it finishes, see if the results look familiar. If so, use the left and right arrow keys to set each partition (to tell it whether to keep that partition; it may turn up a partition that no longer exists if you are in the habit of regularly repartitioning). This sounds scary, but it's mostly just a yes or no kind of choice. When you're done, tell it to write the partition table to the disk. It's not too tough.
    If PhotoRec didn't work, skip to "Last"

    Last: Buy (or search whereisit.org for a copy) Active@ Undelete and run it on the disk. I've used it before: it's very intuitive, easy to use, and powerful. It scans the disk and tells you what files it can find, and then you can copy the files you want onto another disk.

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