Digital Forensics to the rescue – recovering critical data after a format and reinstall!

Pete Membrey, an author for Digital Forensics Magazine describes how to recover all your lost critical data should you ever have to reinstall an Operating system or reformat your hard drive.

Here’s a little snippet:

It happens to all of us – sooner or later we lose data. Sometimes it’s important, others not, but rest assured it will happen. Even the most careful of us who take backups with something akin to religious fervor occasionally make mistakes. And so it was that I got a phone call from a very upset young lady who had just lost six months worth of work.

Her company had decided to refresh her PC and told her to drag and drop everything of importance on to the network share. This she did, but was unaware that some of the items had not been copied and were in fact just shortcuts. The weird thing though (or maybe not, I’m not a Windows expert) is that whilst some Excel files copied perfectly fine, one or two copied as shortcuts – and those of course were the important ones. After the copy had been made, the PC was whisked away, formatted and given to another colleague. A few hours later my friend discovered that her spreadsheet was no more and meanwhile her colleague was busy working away on her new machine.

So we have a spreadsheet on a machine that has been formatted, has had Windows reinstalled and is currently in use. The chances of recovering the data weren’t all that great but the work was sufficiently important that it was worth a try. I told her the first thing to do was get hold of the original PC, turn it off and make sure no one goes near it. Most operating systems continue to write data to the disk even if they’re otherwise idle. This is actually a good thing as it tends to make the machine more responsive – but that last thing I wanted was for the part of the disk containing the spreadsheet to get over written.

You can read on at Pete’s blog.

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About M Isbell

News Editor at DFM