Simple and cheap data recovery!

My middle step-brother, Mike, recently returned home from Iraq and is now on a month of leave before going back to his base, with the possibility of yet another deployment. Luckily he had an internet connection out there, and I was able to keep in touch with him here and there on Facebook, MySpace, and even AIM.

One day while out there he asked me if I could check out his laptop, because it was having problems booting. About two weeks later, I had his laptop and everything else back, directly from Iraq! I started the machine up, and sure enough it wouldn’t let anyone log in. After trying a few different things, I still could never get the machine to finish booting. Eventually I tried ‘chkdsk’, which failed at 50% checking the disk.

I assumed a failing hard drive, which proved to be the problem when starting to recover some of the data. But how should I go about getting this data back off? I don’t have any programs to help me with this or to help repair the drive. He has 30+ gigs of valuable documents, pictures, videos, and music.

In my previous work, I was a sysadmin, so some valuable knowledge sat in, and I got to work. I downloaded the newest version of Ubuntu. This should have NTFS read/write built into the LiveCD. Next, reformatted my iPod to Windows, and hooked everything up.

I booted the laptop the fist time hooked up to network, but for some reason, none of the LiveCD’s (Ubuntu and some others) would not recognize his network interface. So I rebooted, this time plugging in the iPod, and it mounted on the first try!

After many HOURS of copying data off, having to hit ‘skip’ to the ‘I/O failure’ prompts, I was able to recover 99% of all of his data, and now on the road to recovery with a brand new Hard Drive! I would recommend this method to anyone to save a few bucks and some time on what can usually be a very difficult process.

Listening To: ‘Secret Machines’ – Lightning Blue Eyes