TestDisk to the Rescue!

It has been a while since posting here, but the last month or so was completely unbelievable.

First there was CrenguĆŁa’s surgery, but on top of that was a project I was working on which was started back in June (if memory serves) and was supposed to be finished by November the 1st. As it happens sometimes with poorly organized projects, I managed to finish it only on the 20th of November, after countless sleepless nights. But more on that in a dedicated post.

At one point I ran out of hard disk space on my computer (way too many downloads I didn’t have the time to sort out ;)), so I borrowed an 80GB drive to use as temporary storage for the project. Then I used Partition Magic to erase the old HFS partition on that drive (it came out of a Mac) and create a new FAT32 one.

All well, except for one thing — because my computer is also a Hackintosh, I already had an 80GB HFS formated drive installed. Yes, you guessed it: being late at night and tired like a zombie, I managed to erase the partition on the wrong drive, wiping out a bunch of materials for the project (but not any actual work, thank God!) together with a few thousands pictures and home movies very precious to me, not to mention my wife’s whole documents folder with pretty sensitive stuff also.

When it comes to work I’m pretty paranoid, so I had multiple back-ups and there was no danger of losing anything. But the rest of the stuff was never backed-up. I was devastated, and so was my wife.

I unplugged the power line of the drive to avoid accidentally overwriting anything and went on with my project, waiting for the day when I’ll have the time to try to recover my erased partition map and my files back.

And that day was yesterday. After lots of Google searches I had a list of a few programs promising to get my partition back, all of them commercial and giving away a limited demo that would only list the files that can be recovered, not actually saving anything.

All except TestDisk by Christophe Grenier, which is OpenSource software licensed under the GNU Public License (GPL) and runs on DOS, Windows, Linux, various flavors of Unix and of course, OS X. The wiki page says “Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy” and I can swear it’s not boasting. It took me 10 minutes to restore my partition and get my files back, which is simply amazing! And it only took that long because I checked and double checked every single step before actually doing it.

After a few days of contemplating the grim perspective of never getting my files back (at least not without significant effort), Christophe and his great utility changed that. Thank you Christophe for your great work! I don’t have any money right now, but I will try to make a small donation in the near future to show my gratitude.

If any of you out there have any problems with corrupted, deleted or somehow lost partition maps, give Christophe’s TestDisk a try and also support him if you find his software useful.