Doing a Data Recovery

Typical Data Recovery Scenario

  1. Install GetDataBack on a healthy Windows machine without the drive attached that you want to recover data from ("bad drive").

  2. Make sure you have sufficient space on the "good drive" for storing the recovered data. You also can copy the recovered data to a LAN if you have access to one. The machine you are running GetDataBack on can have any of the following operating systems: Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, 32-bit or 64-bit.

  3. Shut down the computer and attach the drive you want to recover from ("bad drive") as a 2nd drive. If it is an internal drive, attach it to the internal SATA cable and make sure it is recognized correctly by the BIOS when starting up the computer. If it is a USB drive, start up the computer and attach it to a USB port. Make sure the USB device is recognized, and the drive shows up in Windows Disk Management.

  4. Start GetDataBack and verify that DISK0: is the "good drive" and DISK1: is the "bad drive".

  5. In the Select Drive screen, select the "bad drive" DISK1.

  6. In the Select File System screen, select the matching file system.

  7. Once you see the Recovery Tree and are ready to copy the recovered files over to the "good drive", you need to purchase a license key, if you have not already done so. Do not quit GetDataBack for purchasing or entering the license code; just enter the code and continue with copying the files. It is a good idea to start with the files you need most.

  8. After copying all desired files, shut down the computer and remove the "bad drive". Store the "bad drive" in a safe place.

  9. We suggest to build a brand new system now. Use components other than the "bad drive". Install the operating system. Install the programs from their installation CD-ROMs. Finally, import the recovered data to the new drive.

  10. Verify you got back all the data you need. Do not recycle the "bad drive" before you are sure about this. It is a good idea to wait 4 weeks before re-using the "bad drive". If the "bad drive" had any mechanical problems, you definitely should not use it again. 

Drive Errors

If you notice any mechanical problems during the recovery with the drive, such as bad sectors or unusual noise, you might want to make an image of the drive first. When successfully created, you can recover from this drive image as you would recover from the original drive. A mechanically damaged drive can fail any second, and you should pull the data off such a drive as fast as possible. Making an image can reduce the load on the drive, because this reads each sector only once.

On the other hand, scanning the drive with a low sophistication level might leave broad areas untouched, thus actually reducing the stress compared to creating an image. That holds especially true if you are looking to recover only a couple of files. Please read our discussion on this topic. In the end, this is your data and your call. You might also consider to stop the recovery attempt altogether and ship the drive to a lab.

Modified Procedures

If you divert from the process described above, always make sure you

If you do not have a working Windows or need to recover a drive in a laptop, you can create a WinPE boot medium.

See also: Snapshot, FAQ, Checklist, Create Image, Read errors, WinPE