How I got data from my broken hard disk (part 1)

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It’s almost funny. My last post was about getting lost photos from drives and memory cards. Well, it turned out that just in the week after publishing the post my (secondary, non-system) hard drive started to act strange. It is an older 320 GB Western Digital drive that I bought with my previous computer and have carried it with the data to my newer one which I still use now. So what was the matter with my drive?

My computer stopped responding. I have restarted it, and when I did, the Checkdisk started automatically. Nothing unusual until now. Checkdisk found a weird error:

The specified disk appears to be a non-Windows XP disk.

I haven’t seen this error yet and my later web search did not bring many results either. Well, the weird thing was this:

Do you want to continue?(Y/N): No

It appeared that Chkdsk decided not to continue because of the error. So I have decided to wait for the computer to boot up and run Chkdisk again. Well, after the computer was ready, the drive was apparently not.  When I opened the Explorer, the disk contained a lot of junk folders with weird names. I have checked to see if my folders were still there, and they were. Also the including files. So I didn’t make a lot of this error – probably just some folder structure corrupted that Chkdsk will fix. So I didn’t make a backup copy, which turned out to be a mistake.

I rerun chkdsk, knowing that it will notify me that it will continue after the restart. It did, but again it has shown the error that the disk is not XP disk. And again, answered “No” to the question if it should continue. After boot (please note that boot took much more time to complete than usual) I took a look at the disk and it still had all the data – mine and the corrupted.

I figured out that I should take more time to fix this. I didn’t have time, so I postponed the disk and data rescue.  My computer worked ok, I could live without the disk, but boot times were much slower.

The solution: Read what I did later and how I finally managed to save my data in my next post.