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Author Topic: Help! Mac Drive Recovery Software?  (Read 4622 times)
joshmcculloch
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« on: November 30, 2008, 07:01:50 PM »

Hey Everyone,

Long story short: I accidentally formatted a 500GB hard drive on my G4 Powermac that was my fileserver.  I was in the middle of adding two 5-bay eSATA boxes, and had transferred all of my image files off of the drive, but forgot to move all of my important business files (contracts, accounting program data, etc) before formatting.  To say I'm mad at myself is an understatement...  I did not have a backup, as I had run out of drive space (hence the new 5-bay boxes).

Anyone have a recommendation for good drive recovery software for Mac, or a personal recommendation on a reputable Data Recovery company?  I am trying out FileSalvage, Stellar Phoenix and Boomerang as I write this...  I also know not to write any new data to this disk.

Thanks for any help.  This will not happen again.

Cheers, Josh
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Josh McCulloch
Josh McCulloch Photography
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2008, 08:38:52 PM »

Josh,
I hope you did not tell Disk Utility to write zeros when you formatted.  If so, it's probably toast.

It's been quite some time since I've needed to look at this, so I don't have any particular recommendations.  Hopefully someone else here does.

Best of luck to you.  I feel your pain.
Peter

For those looking for a learning experience, this is not as uncommon as it might sound. There are a number of times when you find yourself at inherently greater risk.  When traveling, for instance, your laptop is at much greater risk, but so it your data left back in your home or office.  And when upgrading, you are swapping drives around, formatting disks, moving data back and forth, etc.  These are the times when you are at much greater risk for data loss than on an ordinary day.

It's important to think through the whole process, and to take the time to make the extra backup before you start pulling versions out of service.

It's also important to make sure that your business information is backed up at least as well as your images.  You should have at least 3 hard drive copies, and possibly a write-once copy as well.
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joshmcculloch
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2008, 08:56:42 PM »

Peter,

Well said, and thanks for the kind words.  I did not write zeros to the disk, just a basic "Do not erase data" format.  The part that gets me the most is that I am usually so on top of it with my backups both general data and my images.  Between moving homes this summer, running out of drive space, and being on the road too often this year to really get a chance to update my hardware and processes, it just fell to the back burner and this is the result....

Don't let it happen to you!

Cheers, Josh

(Also trying out Data Rescue II, I will post my results once I have sorted everything out.)
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Josh McCulloch
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joshmcculloch
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2008, 01:39:26 AM »

Disaster averted, I was able to get almost all of my data back intact, though not without much work and a major headache.  I haven't been able to identify any missing documents, though some of them I hadn't looked at in a few years so I'm not sure I'd miss them...

I was able to get back my accounting database file (Moneyworks Gold is a great option for Mac accounting software BTW), but unfortunately, they use a custom file type that most data recovery software is not pre-programmed to look for when rescuing data.  The one program I finally got to recover it is called FileSalvage.  You give it 10 examples of the file type you'd like it to look for, and it does the rest.  It successfully found my accounting file, though not without also finding a slew of other files it thought were accounting files that were not...  While this program is also supposed to rename your files as it recovers them, it crashed while doing so, twice.  This did not affect the recover, just the filenaming.  As a result, all of my files were batch named like 123.pdf, 124.pdf, etc.  I was able to use EM2 to help sort some of it out, but I have been doing some manual renaming as well.  Tedious at best...

Anyways, hope this helps someone else down the road, I really hope I don't need to put these newfound skills to use again.  A week of sleepless nights & wasted work, don't let it happen to you!  Backups are now running nightly, and have both my new 5-bay eSATA boxes running well off my G4 MDD.

Cheers, Josh


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Josh McCulloch
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 08:50:35 AM »

Josh,
Thanks for the update, and glad you got most of your data back.
Besides Filesalvage, were there any other programs you found that were helpful in data recovery?
Peter
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joshmcculloch
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 12:19:33 PM »

Hi Peter,

I tried 4 different software options including FileSalvage, I'll give you the Coles Notes version on the other three here:

Boomerang: Seemed like really excellent software, and it looked as though it was actually going to be able to recover my folder structure along with filenames, something none of the other software was capable of doing.  It did not have the option to add custom file types, which I needed for my accounting data, so this was a non-option for me.  The other bummer about this software is that your software license is actually based on the amount of data recovered, not just a one shot deal.  Prices range from $40 for 100MB to $280 for 1TB.  Seemed like a bit of a rip off to me, personally.

StellarPhoenix: Wasn't overly impressed with this, especially after reading some nightmare reviews on the web.  It has also just been updated to version 3.0, and they still left the Panther-era brushed metal look to the GUI.  Doesn't make me too confident about what it'll do to a Leopard file structure.  These guys certainly have their SEO done well though, they show up everywhere - to the point that it actually got annoying when I was searching for alternatives!

Data Rescue: While all of the software listed here provide a functioning demo, only Data Rescue provides a Demo that allows you to actually recover a file (albeit only one, with a 5MB limit).  I was generally impressed, and the only reason I didn't opt to use it was that it does not allow for searching for custom file types.

The big downside I see to all DR software is the scan times (Loooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg is a good way to put it.) and the lack of custom file types.  My scans took between 6 and 12 hours for a 500GB drive (You can see why it took about a week after attempting to try all of the software - you should really only run one at a time when scanning a disk!).  Most of these programs allow you to save the results of a scan so you can continue with Data Recovery at a later time which is nice.  As mentioned above, only FileSalvage allows for Custom File Types.  It would also be nice to be able to recover the filenames and folder structure, but I'm sure this is much more difficult than it sounds!

Anyways, hope this helps.  Cheers, Josh
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Josh McCulloch
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2008, 07:37:43 PM »

Thanks for the write-up Josh.
Peter
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