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How do I restore files from an external hard drive.

by Choller21 / March 15, 2010 10:20 PM PDT

My hard drive got stuck. Happily I had backed up all my files, photos etc. It was under guarantee so I got a new hard drive. Now I just need to restore all my stuff.

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Re: restore
by Kees Bakker / March 15, 2010 10:39 PM PDT

That was a good start, backing up. But, indeed, it's only half of the total work.

How to restore depends on how you backed up. You forgot to tell that. The 2 extremes:
1. The backup program just copied the folders and files to another place. You can have a look with Explorer and copy/paste or drag and drop back to your hard disk.
2. The backup program wrote the files to some private format that only that particular program can read. Then install that program on your new hard disk and see what options it has to restore the backup.

With some bad luck, the program not only used some private format for the data but also encrypted it with a very secret key that only was stored on your old hard disk. Then those files are unrecoverable.


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Thanks for your reply
by Choller21 / March 17, 2010 8:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: restore

I had tried to retore the files from the external hard drive using the "Restore from another computer" thing on Vista. It seemed to work but when I looked for the restored files on my new hard drive on my computer I couldn't find them.
I hadn't installed an operating system at that point. I have now installed Office Home and Student. I still can't find the files I thought I had restored earlier. Should I have another go now that I have an Operating System installed?
On the external hard drive all the files are saved in lettered files A B C D etc etc (or is it numbered? I can't remember). Anyway they aren't stored as I had them saved on my old hard drive so I can't just drag and drop. Well I could but it would take ages.
Anyway. Thanks again for your reply. Maybe if I have shed some light on the problem you might be able to help some more?

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So it seems ...
by Kees Bakker / March 17, 2010 9:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for your reply

the restore program on Vista isn't compatible with the backup program you used on XP. That's bad. All I can advise: find another backup program that is.


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by Choller21 / March 17, 2010 9:22 PM PDT
In reply to: So it seems ...

I backed up to my external hard drive using the same "Back up & Restore" thing on my Vista control panel. I've never had XP.

When I tried a restore I hadn't downloaded an Operating System though. Would that be a problem.

I may be being quite thick.

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If it's the same program ...
by Kees Bakker / March 18, 2010 1:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Vista

it SHOULD work. But I can't tell you how or why not, because I don't use that backup program.

It's impossible that you run a Vista program without having Vista installed. So you must have done something else. But it's unclear what exactly.

Worth the try to retry it.


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Try this advice from "Hilly"
by jnehmer1 / June 17, 2012 6:32 AM PDT

I recommend that everyone first try "Hilly's" advice (copied below from
I used it yesterday on two of my WD 1 TB portable hard drives, and it brought back all of my files beautifully.
It took over five hours per portable hard drive, but thankfully I have my files back.
Now, to see if they stay back (I have Windows XP, which, according to another blog, has problems accommodating large portable hard drives).
John, Milwaukee

hilly1 11-06-2011 at 11:11:57 pm .had the same exact issue!
run chkdsk
go to a cmd prompt type in
chkdsk c: /r
note if the drive is g or whatever than instead of c: type g:
it will take a while wait it out it will fix it all

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