Monday, September 22, 2008

What Happened So Far

The hard drive on my Inspiron 6400 was doing some "clicking"

I, being responsible, used birthday money (thanks Harriet) to purchase a new Hard Drive. I connected said new hard drive via USB and was prepping it to put into the laptop.

Now, Certain Dell Laptops have a cool feature called Media Direct. It is essentially a highly specialized installation of Windows, with it's own specialized user interface, designed only to play Media. It boots up fast and can play media files, DVDs, and Office Files—and that's it.  The Benefit is it uses less battery power to do so than your typical windows environment. If your booting up just to watch a DVD, or to present a Powerpoint—Media Direct is a nice way to do it. The installation of Media Direct 3 is located on a separate partition of the hard drive. Oh, also it has it's own button—so when you want to boot into Media Direct, instead of pressing the Power Button, you press the Media Direct Button; or if you're already in Windows and Want to use Media Direct, press the button and the program loads in the windows environment.

Also, Dell computers have a Partition set aside that has a customized Windows Installer that can restore the system back to what it was when you originally received the laptop. Some people find these partitions that are taking up precious hard drive space to be bloat, and blow them out when they first get a laptop. That's fine - generally that's me too, but in this case I wanted to keep it all.

I was going to use Ghost to copy the partitions "as is" to the new hard drive and then expand the C:\ partition
to take up the rest of the space (the new drive is bigger), then partition off a new section and use Ghost to copy the system restore partition. I was doing some research into partitioning and the way Dell has theirs set up. I learned that Media Direct 2 is insane and I'm glad that I have 3, but 4 would be better, but is likely unattainable. I also learned that there is some special preparation the drive must go through
 for the Media Direct to work. Using the Media Direct CD that comes with the Laptop you can run a program that sets up the partitions as they need to be. Most people that upgrade hard drives seem to run the Media Direct Installer, to prep the new hard drive and then use Ghost to Copy the windows installation to the new hard drive. This is what I thought I was doing.

But What I had actually done, was not prepare the new drive at all, and repartitioned my system drive. Losing Everything.

So I've spent the weekend just building the system on the new drive.
The old drive has not been formatted, just repartitioned, so there is a SLIM chance that I may be able to extract some things off of it—I'm not holding my breath though.

I've been searching my memory to figure out if there was anything really critically important on that drive. And I can only think of a few things that aren't backed up somewhere. There are some things that are gone that I will miss: My Original Photoshop Files of Squishy Comics, and My saved Game from Spore are Notable.
But I can live without those.

I'm going to Give Test Disk a shot, but won't be brokenhearted if I'm out of luck.


Using Test Disk I was able to restore the partitions to their proper order. All the Data is still there. I'll try booting the system later.


  1. Ouch!!! I hope that you are able to find some of your lost files.

  2. That's SOOOO Lucky.

    After having an intense data loss once before, and actually truly loosing 2 months worth of precious data, I learned that if something is not in 2 places at any given time, it's not backed up.

    So before I update OS X to a new version, for example, I make *2* backups of my data.

    It takes some HD space for sure, but drives are so cheap now there's no excuse not to have a good backup strategy in place.

    My current strategy is as such...

    I have 5 external hard drives.

    One is a pocket-sized drive that can run without an AC adaptor. OS X has great backup functionality built into the latest version, called "Time Machine" and I use Time Machine on this drive. Unfortunately it's a small drive, so *only* my user directory gets backed up to this.

    1 of the 4 other hard drives is named "Tinga" and it is my latest drive, a 1 TB drive. It is the backup master.

    All my other external hard drives, and my laptop, get snap-shotted to Tinga from time to time, so all in all, all my data is backed up. Even the data on my external hard drives.

  3. and the super important data that's in my home directory is backed up twice. I'm seriously considering moving Tinga 'off site' to a friend's apartment....but I'll probably get another 1 TB drive first so I can swap them out every week or so.

  4. Well, I have learned that ALL the data is fine, and using Test Disk, I put all the partitions back the way they were.

    But now I have the new drive up and running with all my software installed. And a new windows installation is always so nice. So, I'm no longer going to do a ghost image. I'm just going to selectively copy my files to the new Drive.

    Man I wish I had a Couple Terabytes. Drives are cheap, yes. But Budget's are tight.

  5. Been there done that! I've lost many a drive. Thank goodness for backups. The first drive I lost about 40% of my data because I never did any backups. The other 60% was stuff I could replace or had burned on a CD for one thing or another. I have a couple of 1TB drives now. One I update every 6 months and take off site (to my office), but I should probably do more often with all the new pictures and home movies being added all the time. Another gets updated monthly.

    Also, I understand your issues with the funky Media Direct partition. I've spent a few hours messing with that one too.

    I've also been using a couple of different imagers lately in addition to ghost... One is Acronis True Imager (on the Hiren's Boot CD) and drive clone by farstone. DriveClone is free for the first 30 days, which works just fine to make images. Drive clone is pretty fast too.

    Just last week I backed up an entire server disk including all the Dell partitions so I could move it to a new set of disks in a new raid array. I updated them from 2 GB free space to 987 GB free space, on the new set.(using Acronis) Also using Paragon partition manager to tweak the partitions to give them a little more room on the C partition.

    Any way sounds fun! BTW the wife's got a XPS 420 quad core, that I practically stole from Dell, it was so cheap ($400 bucks) and I've got a Precision M4300, that has been almost bullet proof so far.

    Also congrats on the new job at UTA, I think that is where I heard you got a new job. Ping me sometime. Glad to hear you got you're data though! **sigh** relief....

  6. I'm so glad you got it restored!