I really hope I can stop posting on this topic soon, but things continue to get more and more interesting (and frustrating). The recovery tool I mentioned earlier has been put through its paces, and the results are not very promising at all. Out of 120+ gigs of data I had on the drive, around 40 gigs were recovered, and of those 40 gigs roughly 8.5 gigs (1266 files out of over 6600 that I originally had) are MP3’s, though many of them are corrupted, and none of them have the correct title (only numbers). The bulk of the rest are plain .txt files; some of them are clearly .cs or .vb code files (which does me absolutely no good whatsoever), some are clearly what’s left of assemblies, and some are complete gibberish. There are close to 100,000 of them so obviously going through them by hand simply isn’t possible.
Here’s where it gets interesting (and where I get really confused as I’m by no means a file system expert): Where the heck are the other 80 gigs worth of files? If they were overwritten (which I’m pretty sure they weren’t) by other files, wouldn’t those files have been recovered? If the drive was formatted and/or partitioned by the Vista installation, that information should have been recovered as well by the recovery tool…there simply isn’t any partition information whatsoever, and there should be. The way I understand it (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong) is that if a drive is accidentally formatted or partitioned, the data is actually still there, only the pointers and indexes are deleted thus marking those sectors as available for new files (much more efficient than actually deleting the physical data on the platter)…so as long as no further writes are made to the disc the data should be fully recoverable (which I verified doing some tests of my own). There were no writes made to the drive whatsoever after the Vista installation as the drive wouldn’t even mount to the filesytem. So apparently Vista overwrote 80 gigs of data with absolutely nothing, otherwise whatever the files were overwritten with should have shown up during the recovery process…there’s absolutely nothing there except a gaping 80 gig hole in the drive. Again (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts) at no point during the installation was the external drive selected for any type of operation, and the previous build of Vista didn’t do this.
So IMO opinion either:
- I got some sort of nasty virus immediately after booting Vista after the installation and it chewed up my drive (which I have no way of currently checking as the drive won’t mount, more on this later), or
- The Vista installation routine did indeed eat 80 gigs of data and overwrote it with blank space (again, if the drive was simply formatted the data should be recoverable).
I’m leaning towards the latter; I would definitely consider the first bullet, however neither eTrust nor Norton can see the drive to scan it though (but the recovery software sees the drive…is there an A/V program out there capable of seeing a USB drive if it isn’t mounted to the filesystem?).
As Bootay mentions in the comments of this post, “If you are doing a beta OS setup on a machine with critical data, any data loss is your own fault” (thank you oh great fountain of knowledge ;-) ), which of course is correct (and it doesn’t matter if it’s MS’s fault as they are very clear in their EULA’s that they aren’t liable for any data loss stemming from their products), but I’m still stunned as none of the previous builds touched the USB drive (to my knowledge), and certainly didn’t render it unusable. If this is Vista’s fault (still not blaming yet until I have more hard data to look at), then this is an absolute outrage regardless of if I had backups or not (which unfortunately in this case I only have backups for the super critical stuff…I’d really like my 6600 tunes back though). It’s simply maddening to say the least.
I haven’t given up. I was flipping through PC Mag earlier today at my Mom’s (yes, she reads PC Mag for some reason), making sure to skip over Dvorak’s column of course, and came across a short article they did about a data recovery company called OnTrack; they have a great deal going where you pay them a hundred bucks, ship them your drive, they do everything short of voodoo to get all your data back, they then send you a link via email where you can view your folders/files online, and then you decide whether you want to pay another sum to get all the data back (or even just a subset for less money). So, that’s my last resort at this point…and they also should be able to tell me what the fuck actually happened to the data on the drive (and where the 80 gig hole actually came from). So I’ll (hopefully) be putting this topic to bed for now and can get on with regular posting.
Next time I’ll un-plug everything except the damn drive I’m installing to. What a crappy way to realize this.