Not too long ago, I wrote about the Great Melt-down.
At the time I was pretty upset, and was still getting depressed every time I thought about it; something I tried to avoid.
Just last week I bought Spinrite, since I had read that it could work miracles recovering data, but that application showed an emptry drive, too. The good news is that they have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
When I wrote to them about my problem, they explained that Spinrite is designed to recover data from bad sectors on damaged or flaky hard drives, not from a formatted or re-partitioned drive. It's a different approach. Their system depends on the current file table, so it wouldn't help me recover from a format.
But they did tell me about Ontrack Data Recovery. These folks provide data recovery solutions from single-user/"roll your own" to clean-room lab services. Apparently they are qualified to open the seal on a variety of hard drives (to recover the data) without invalidating the manufacturer's warranty. The list includes Fujitsu, Maxtor, Quantum, Seagate, and Western Digital. Impressive...
Ontrack allows you to download a demo version of their "personal" level of data recovery software for free. It will scan the selected drive, display any files or folders that seem to be recoverable, and allow you to flag those you wish to restore. It won't actually perform the restore, but it's useful to see if the software can even find your data.
I downloaded the demo, installed and ran it, and it saw my data! I thought about it for about 15 minutes, since the good stuff is $199; they have an $89 version ,but you can only restore 25 files at a time. Feh! I had several thousand files on that drive...
After that I spoke a silent prayer, bought the $199 package, downloaded and installed it.
Now, let's backtrack here. XP install had over-written the original FAT32 partition with an NTFS partition. Then I deleted that, and created a new FAT32 partition, and quick-formatted that. I hadn't written to the drive since (for which I give thanks!)
Even after all that mucking around, EasyRecoverytm still found and recovered 98% of my data!!!
Alll my source code, all my papers, my memories; everything. I. Have. It. All. Back. I cannot describe just how ...happy isn't the word... I am.
The other 2%? some .MP3s, and a couple of vids. Nothing important. I think they had been deleted and overwritten before the mess, which would explain why they were damaged or cross-linked.
Anyway. If you ever find yourself in this situation, which -according to Ontrack- includes reformatted drives; do not walk; run to their website, and get their stuff. It's worth the money.