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Windows XP installation/ data issues

By rafezetter ·
Hi all - I've had a look around on the forums (although most of it I didnt understand) and tried a solution, but that didn't solve it... so here goes..

My "normal" installation of XP kept on getting BSOD during loading - I couldnt catch the error to see what it was. After several attempts to fix it - I decided to do a reinstall without formatting the partition as I'm desperate not to lose the stuff in there including irreplaceable photo's files etc (yes yes I know...). Ok so now a new windows XP runs as a basic build, BUT I can't see any of the data from the previous install. The partition this install is in says it has 256gb out of 260gb free so it's not in here (or is it just not being recognised..?), the other partition at first wasn't even registering, after going into control panel and the storage part of admin services I could see the partition but it hasn't been assigned a letter, and just says 205gb of free space.

However..when I boot up I'm still being asked which version of Xp I want to load and when I try the other one I get the "....hal.dll" error. When I tried to do the recovery from the XP disk it only gave me one (1) choice instead of the two (2) I'm seeing on bootup, so I don't know if I'm able to do the fix that way as I can't tell which one is being offered.

ok all that explained I need to know two (2) things: can my previous install be fixed? OR and more importantly can the data/ files from the first install be recovered in any way? Even if it means buying a new HDD and installing a new XP onto that and sending the borken HDD away? I REALLY hope the data has not been "lost" or otherwise become irretrievable (and yes I'll backup from now on..*sigh*)

If anyone is able to help in ANY way - I'll be very very grateful, feel free to ask for email details etc if u need and I'll try to answer any question as best I can.

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All Answers

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Well data Recovery Services are not cheap

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Windows XP installation/ ...

They can be really expensive but with a working HDD things are not too bad though not exactly cheap either.

Now provided that you didn't format the Drive with the Data on it it's still there but you will not see it as you need to Take Ownership of the Files/Folders by following the directions here


Provided that you where not using the Windows Encrypted File System that only comes with XP Pro it's straight forward. If however you where using EFS take the drive out now and find a good Data Recovery Service and tell them exactly what you have done as well as your Encryption Key. Here I'm assuming that you didn't backup the EFS Recovery Agent as you have not backed up your Data, so I'll not run through the process of Mounting the EFS Recovery Agent.

As for the Drive that isn't mounted in Windows Open the Drive Management by Logging in as the Administrator or a User Account with Administrator Privileges then Click on Start, Control Panel, Switch the Control Panel to Classic View, then left click on Administrative Tools, Computer Management, then in the next Window to open on the Left Hand Side Disc Management. Highlight the Drive or Partition which needs to be mounted then right click on it and from the drop down Menu left click on Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Follow the directions from there.

You may also find things easier to Unhide Hidden Folders so Left Click on My Computer, then when the Window Opens left click on, tools, then Folder Options from the Drop Down Menu, when the next Window opens left click on View and then from the list Show Hidden Files & Folders. Apply the changes and close that window down.

Post back if you have any problems or do not understand my directions.


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"nice try but no cigar.."...... next!!!

by rafezetter In reply to Well data Recovery Servic ...

Hi Col - many many thanks for taking the time to reply - no I'm not using XP pro so no worries there. The link you sent me is about taking ownership of a file (I had a good read several times of it) yet even in safe mode/ administrator none of the old stuff is showing on the c: drive, no files folders or anything, greyed out or otherwise.

The hidden tip for folder options I do all the time anyway, the partition I have now given a letter to as per your advice but it keeps asking me to format, and is showing as empty. I've declined the formats just in case anything is "hiding" on there.

Already looked up about HDD data recovery and one offers for ?97 which isn't bad when compared to losing photo's of people since gone... (and again mentally kicks oneself in the backside for not backing up)...akkk

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System Rescue CD

by kentontator In reply to "nice try but no cigar.." ...

Hey check out System Rescue CD

you should be able to at least browse your partitions and see if the files are there.

If they are, we can go from there.

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re: system restore CD

by rafezetter In reply to System Rescue CD

Hi - Ok I'm in the process of DL and making the CD from the site you suggested *fingers crossed*

for the other posters below thanks for the replies and if this try doesn't work I'll try the other suggestions....

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no success

by rafezetter In reply to re: system restore CD

Hmm ok - well that didn't seem to work - when I looked at the partition using this system restore disk, only the newly installed XP is showing on the partition, when I scanned the hdd it again only showed the files for the new XP. - No old partition, no "hidden" files. Of course I could be doing it completely wrong and missing the obvious.

So...onto the knoppix suggestion...

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akkk - flying blind and looking at poss ?400 bill

by rafezetter In reply to no success

a recovery company has called and said I'm looking at possibly ?400 fee to do it... if there is any way I can avoid this (being currently between jobs) I'd like to try it but I'm kinda flying blind with these recovery programs suggested here...I'm still posting my thoughts and progression in the hope some of you might continue to post replies and suggestions.

Either way I'd like to thank you all for the replies.

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Unfortunately $400.00 is extremely cheap

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to akkk - flying blind and l ...

The last time I had to have a dead drive recovered it cost $56,000.00 but that was a dead drive and it was done in 24 Hours so it was a Rush Job. It would have been considerably cheaper if the Tax Man didn't need the data off the drive the day after it was destroyed or at least given to me after being destroyed.

As for Data Recovery Applications I don't believe any have been suggested yet mainly because we first need to see what type of Recovery Application you require, but if this helps any my preferred Data Recovery Application a Utility from On Track costs $1,200.00 or at least it did last time I looked. If you need Forensic Type Recovery Tools they are more expensive and take a lot longer to run with no guarantee of results. But then again I suppose any Data Recovery Program has no Guarantee of getting your Data Back it's just with the more that you do the less likely you are to recover any Data and if it is Important the more it's going to cost to try to get a good result.

But having said that On Track managed to recover 100% of the Data off a HDD that was on Colombia when it was destroyed. The Drive survived the destruction of the Space Shuttle and landed in a swamp where it was buried for a short while under water. But by the same token they failed to get any data off 2 other drives from that Space Craft.

I hate to even consider the costs involved in that recovery but as the experiments that it was recording where not repeatable easily I suppose it was worth the cost.

Try Knoppix and see if you can see any Partitions or Data at all before we go any further.


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Well as the easy option doesn't work

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to "nice try but no cigar.." ...

Try the More advanced option.

Here you'll need a copy of Knoppix which you can get from here


Knoppix is a Live Linux which runs off the CD so all you need do is make a Knoppix CD and then sett he BIOS to boot off the Optical Drive before the HDD and restart the system after inserting the Knoppix CD.

With Knoppix running just look at the different Drives or Partitions and copy the Data off to your preferred Backup Media.

It's just like using Windows but without the Windows OS Running.

Post back if you are unable to read any data off the HDD's or partitions.


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re: knoppix suggestion

by rafezetter In reply to Well as the easy option d ...

Hi Col - ty again for continued replies, I'm trying one rescue software someone suggested first - if that doesn't do it, I'll try your knoppix idea.

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Clarify a little

by IC-IT In reply to Windows XP installation/ ...

When you checked the second drive in Disk Management, did you assign it a letter?

If not do so and then take ownership.

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