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file recovery for bad drives

Nicholas Bodley wrote:
> Some time back, I mistakenly over-wrote a FAT32 archive partition...
> with an ext3fs.

Given that it is FAT32, you might find your time is better spent by 
buying a commercial recovery tool. There are a lot of them. Many 
relatively cheap ($50 or less). Some freeware. Restorer2000 is an 
example of a commercial tool I've used. ( 
PC INSPECTOR is an example of a freeware tool (which I haven't tried). 
( There's also an 
'unformat' tool kicking around that might do the trick.

But you'll need to run them from Windows, and you'll probably need to 
leave the files in place on the partition - not copied to an image file 
on some other drive.

> ...I decided to leave that partition strictly untouched.
> ...I plan to copy to another HD ([dd] command?) before attempting
> recovery.

You can always do that in parallel to anything else you try. It's always 
a good idea to backup a drive before attempting any recovery operations 

A command like:
dd if=/dev/<partition> of=/path/to/image/file

should do it.

> curious about whether there's any chance of reconstructing the
> FAT(s).

There may be a copy still intact. But even if the FAT was fully 
restored, some of your data still might have gotten clobbered by the
ext3 formatting, which probably writes to different areas of the disk 
than FAT32. You'll probably be able to recover many of your files using 
one of the automated tools mentioned above.

This article:

How a Corrupted USB Drive Was Saved by GNU/Linux

describes one way to do a manual partition recovery.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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