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Recovery from a destructive reboot

by auntie763 / May 24, 2007 7:38 AM PDT

I am in dire straits. To make a long painful story short, I was told to do a destructive reboot through Windows XP to remove some viruses on my system. The idiots at my local repair shop told me that this would restore Windows XP to its original working state. They FAILED to mention that this would also wipe out all of my data files, e-mail etc etc so I have lost everything. Had I been told beforehand that everything would get wiped out I would have backed up my stuff, but no such luck. Is there any way at all that I can recover my lost data? Are there any recovery programs I could buy that might be of help? Any information anyone can provide will be greatly greatly appreciated. Thanks so very much.

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Sadly, no
by jackson dougless / May 24, 2007 7:48 AM PDT

First off, minor note on the terminology. There's no such thing as a destructive reboot. You formatted your system.

As for your problem, there's absolutely no chance of a full recovery at this point, and the more you use the system, the less chance of a partial recovery you have.

Long story short, the data's gone. You might have a chance at saving some random files, but there's no way to predict which files. It's not like you can choose between saving your email messages or some word processing documents you were working on.

What you can do, is learn from this experience the value of regular backups. You never know when some kind of catastrophic failure may occur, so it's ALWAYS a good idea to keep regular backups of things you don't want to lose. For all you know, a major power spike could come down the line tomorrow and fry your hard drive, and you'd lose everything again. The unfortunate reality, is it takes some sort of painful experience like this to really drive the point home about backups. So, you may not be able to do anything about the files you lost this time around, but you can make sure that should the unthinkable happen again, you're prepared.

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What do you think "destructive" means ...
by Kees Bakker / May 24, 2007 7:52 AM PDT

when there's also a non-destructive version?

The situation is rather hopeless, I'm afraid, and - of course - you should backup regularly (just in case something happens) and not only on an special occasion like this. And you'd better read the warnings the XP setup programs gives when you do it in stead of only clicking "continue".

Anyway, try a professional recovery company like (or a lot of others, just look for data recovery or hard disk recovery in google or try the tools recommended by Bob Proffitt in

The most important thing now: immediately buy a new hard disk, install Windows on it, mount this disk a slave and start experimenting only then. Don't do anything on it but having it read by a recovery program.

Hope this helps.


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I know what "destructive" means, thank you very much
by auntie763 / May 24, 2007 8:00 AM PDT

When I'm told one thing by some computer tekkie who's supposed to know what he's talking about, that's one thing. When I don't get all of the information I need, that's another. I had a bad feeling about doing the reboot but I was told that only the operating system would be affected. Thanks for the info you provided. I will try what I can to get this stuff back.

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by auntie763 / May 24, 2007 8:01 AM PDT

I did read the warnings on the reboot screen beforehand. Nothing said anything about data backups. Thanks for making me feel like a total idiot. That's what I get for listening to people who supposedly know what they're talking about.

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Sorry, I didn't mean an offence.
by Kees Bakker / May 24, 2007 8:04 AM PDT

I interpreted FAILED TO TELL as "didn't tell" or "forgot to tell". And that's something else than giving information that's clearly wrong.

You have some reasons to trust what they say, indeed (if you understood it correctly and did exactly what they told you) and that something else than ASSUMING something they didn't say.

It's a sad story.


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No apology necessary!
by auntie763 / May 24, 2007 8:27 AM PDT

You didn't offend me. I'm just a little irked right now, more at myself than anything else. But the good news is I got ahold of and there is hope, so all (or quite a bit, anyways) may not be lost after all. Thanks to all for your suggestions, and thanks to CNET for providing this fantastic forum where I got help and answers within minutes. You guys are all great.

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