How do I restore data from an overwritten partition?
The scenario: My primary hard drive (HD1) became infected beyond the capabilities of adware & spyware tools, AV, or firewall. I then transferred my important data files to (what I thought was) a storage hard drive, (HD2). Thinking that I had designated a second hard drive (HD2) as the storage drive, I reinstalled WIN XP Home SP1 from CD, and then installed SP 2 from CD onto HD1. Then I went looking for my saved data files. I could not find HD2 using Windows Explorer. So, I opened the case, only to find that HD2 was not connected to the system or power. Thinking back, I remembered that I had partitioned HD1 and used the large partition for storage, not HD2. Ok, now you have the story. Stupid mistake.
Having sufficiently, verbally abused myself for such an arcane move, I moved on with data recovery. I installed WIN XP Home SP1 from CD, and then installed SP 2 from CD onto HD2. I am now using HD2 as primary, and have disconnected HD1 from the system and power. I need to know how to proceed to recover as much of my data as possible, much of which is several folders of JPEGs. I have a copy of Encase 2004, which I understand is very strong, but I am intimidated by the warnings in the 300 page, online manual.
Two potential avenues of solution for you, from the expert team that we here call the Friends of Ask Dave Taylor...
I would use GetDataBack to recover the data. If the user is now able to boot from HD2, he can run this from the Windows environment.
If not, they have a plug-in (http://www.runtime.org/peb.htm) that will work
PE Builder lets you add other applications by using "plugins". You can then recover the files to a local drive or even to network storage if that is an option.
You probably don't realize what Encase is. Encase is a very pricey computer forensics package, but one of the best. Used by a large number of state, local, and federal law enforcement computer investigators, amonst many large companies and forensic consultants. Anybody that doesn't know how to use it has certainly pirated it.
And a bunch of jpeg's. On a PC loaded with spyware and viruses, suggesting not the cleanest browser history I've seen. Hmm... Sounds like you might really be asking "how can I recover my porn with software that I stole?" :)
Not to mention Encase is not the right thing for the task. It's not designed for data recovery purposes.
But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, just this once.
It sounds like you formatted and installed Windows over the top of your backup drive. Had you just formatted it and then realized the mistake, the data would be relatively easy to recover. Now that at least some of that information has been overwritten on top of being formatted, things get much more difficult. I would suggest Ontrack's EasyRecovery software as one of the leading data recovery software packages.
If Ontrack can't recover it, it's a case for a professional data recovery shop who have loads of expensive specialized equipment for jobs like this, and most don't charge anything if they can't recover the data. They generally have more than a 90% success rate, but it's typically very pricey (several hundred dollars at a minimum).
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