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Friday, August 06, 2010

Geek Attempt: Data Recovery

I am very impatient when it comes to computer technology. I figured since we are already in a new era of computing, things should work faster, error-free and reliably all the time. But, computer geeks and enthusiasts are constantly fighting to master something that is too unstable to be confined within the realms of what an ideal computing environment should be.

When I’m in front of the computer, it’s always a great adventure to find out things here and there in the internet superhighway. In the process though, we get caught up with information overload, and our PCs suffer too.

I normally would clean my PC every time I get a hint that it’s struggling, or if I realize that its overall throughput as a high-speed computing device is unsatisfactory within my own perceived standards. I clean everything to the point of tweaking the internal registries not minding the consequence of removing & rewriting endlessly onto my HDD partitions.

In the end, I have to deal with a corrupted disk drive that refuses to boot and instead I get the unforgiving blue screen of death (BSOD) which is Windows' own way of saying ‘Hey you screwed up Windows, and now screw you…na na na na na!’ (just kidding) . In all its fairness this is Windows’ innate way of protecting your basic system files from getting more damage. And there are a few things you can do but it requires a few sleepless nights, a great deal of patience, some technical knowhow, a good chunk of geek mentality, and some cash to dispose of for recovery software and perhaps backup disks or drives. There are a few free resources online but depending on how desperate you are to recover your data, it is essentially an impossible route to take without doling out something in return for recovering your corrupted data.

So now we’re talking. My point is backing up your data on a regular basis is the only way to get stability in this unstable computing world. Data on your PC gets corrupted so easily and it’s not a matter of if but it’s a matter of when.

I have a VAIO that runs on VISTA and for all its grace I just loved the way it performed that I wanted to save it, instead of just dropping the ‘f’ bomb and running to the store to get a new laptop.

So I went through the hassle of going through several attempts of booting & rebooting my laptop, and it didn’t work. Apparently some of my basic Windows .exe files are nowhere to be found. What did I do? Then moving to step 2, I acquired an online utility tool to help in the BSOD dilemma called Spotmau that attempts to fix Windows upon boot by tapping into your BIOS files and re-coding the order in which Windows would boot, plus it’s got its own bit of Windows utility tool that attempts to assist Windows to load and fix any sort of errors provided your wounded OS is still crouching inside your PC. Nah, the BSOD still happened. This solution didn’t work for me.

The next attempt is a little too extreme for one who is not really into the nuts and bolts of how the PC internals work. I mean come on guys, someone already lost sleep over this. Why would I lose sleep too? But anyways, sometimes you don’t really get the satisfaction that you want until you get to the bottom of things so I decided, what the heck, let me open up my laptop, take the HDD, attach it to another laptop as an external disk drive and see what’s going on inside. In order to do this, you need to have of course another working laptop or PC, and a tool that will allow your HDD to be connected through the usb port—an HDD dock(hardware) which you can get online. Didn’t I tell you, you need cash?

Now the juicy part. I got the dock and successfully connected my dismantled HDD to my laptop. Voila my PC recognized it as just another external memory device. Now what? You are going to start with the process of recovering data by again scouring the web for the best resources to help you carry out the process so I again managed to find a potential cash-cruncher but if it helps, why not? No free lunch dearie, let me remind you of that!

For a sneak peek into your HDD you can download Recover My Files. The beauty of this software is that it lets you start the process of recovering the corrupted data before you even decide to pay a few dollars for this utility. This software lets you recover either a few lost files or recover an entire corrupted drive. In my case I decided to do the latter since the BSOD is a definite indication of a serious drive issue. This process takes time, so brace yourself for it. A good way to carry out this process is to temporarily disable your working laptop's other functionalities like standby mode settings, regular updates that results in automatic restart, just so the utility can go on with the process of locating files without interruption. I tell you, this takes days so be patient. And don’t be stupid.

Once the process of locating lost files is done, you need more time for analyzing the recovered files and this takes a longer time. After this process is completed, you get to see a glimpse and even a preview of the files and more. Only when you decide to complete the recovery process that you then need to purchase a license key. I did.

As of this writing, I’m still in my underpants with my less-furrowed eyebrows, waiting to complete the entire process. And I am actually doing eight hundred other things on the side while burying my 'fo-his' into a cold bar of Haagen daaz.

Will this be a success? We’ll wait and see. For now, I can proudly say, ‘I tried’.

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