ERROR 404: File Not Found

While I was preparing my computer for installing Windows 7 on it, I managed to delete everything on one of my hard drives. This included the following, precious memories:

  • All church videos, pictures, posters and PowerPoint’s I’d ever made
  • The video from when I went to China in 2007
  • The videos from various other holidays on the boat, to Mallorca and others
  • All my school work from secondary school
  • Presentations made for my parents 50th parties and my brothers graduation
  • and a lot more…

As you can imagine this was pretty distressing (to paraphrase). It was almost worse to know that all the files were still there, on the disk, but couldn’t be read because the table telling the computer where all the files where had been wiped. Its like having put all your most valuable memories in a safe, and then forgetting the combination to the safe: its all still there, you just can’t get it.

So, continuing with the safe analogy, I set about finding a tool that could break open the case without the combination. I tried a program that I had used before (Recover Files), but that found nothing.

Then I tried a program called Pandora Recovery, that said that it could get back most of the files, but none of the videos. Oh, and anything it got back would not have a name or the folder structure. Essentially, I would get a single huge folder with thousands of files with random names.

I looked for a better solution. I came across a program that cost £70, but would do a scan for free (I know, sounds dodgy). That actually managed to find a lot of files and videos, but still didn’t have file names or folders. It also cut up the videos into little 10 second bits; not good when most of the videos were supposed to be over 1 hour long.

After 24 hours of trying to get these files back and failing, it didn’t look hopeful. The best outcome seemed to be being able to get back some files, but then having to spend the rest of my life sorting through the mess. There had to be a better way. I looked in dedicated forums for this sort of thing and kept finding people recommending this free program called Recuva. Nothing to loose…

After taking 5 hours to scan the hard drive (no exaggeration) it came back with the results. It had found files, lots of files, with names, and folders, lots of folders, with names. Videos, full and uncut. Wow!

I managed to get about 90% of my files back. It wasn’t perfect, some files were named wrong, like: “000000235$NOTES~1.DOC” which should have been: “Notes.doc”, but that was easily changed. I lost a few things: receipts for computers I’d built for people, some old emails, a few old programs and the odd word document here and there. But considering I’d managed to format my hard drive, all the important stuff was recovered.

So what can be learned from this experience:

  • If you ever find yourself having done something stupid and deleted something you want, DON’T PANIC! It can probably be recovered
  • If you want to sell an old hard drive, thoroughly wipe the drive several times to ensure the buyer won’t be able to see your files. This can be done to military standard using DBAN
  • Don’t ever pay for software! You can always find cheaper, and better, alternatives (well, kinda)
  • Always keep a backup! Seriously, do! No really, hard drives are so cheap nowadays you have no excuse, except stupidity.

So there you have it. I tell you this so you can be aware, but also because its therapeutic for me :)

Quote of the day: Designer Vagina!

(Don’t ask because you’re not going to like the answer!)

One thought on “ERROR 404: File Not Found”

  1. >Arhhhhhhh Charlie… What a nightmare! Now Im every so slightly worried about wednesday! urmm. Stupidity comes to mind! Still, I am so glad you got most of it back, its the best time of your life so dont you forget it! As for your thought of the day! The vaccuum cleaner hose would be a less embarrassing option! PMSL :)

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