Hassles of Data Recovery from Hard Drive

JUN 25 2009

What a hassle when you see the blue screen with lots of error messages that comes just after your Windows screen. I have a Dell Vostro 1500 laptop running with Windows XP Home, last time I saw it working fine while I was watching a bollywood movie before shutting down for some rest. I got some error before the laptop was completely turned off.

I was tired enough to read those messages so I turned off by pushing the power switch. That’s it, I started getting the nightmares from the next day morning. I turned my laptop on when I left my bed, here is a screen that was waiting for me whole night with an error saying “Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: System32\Drivers\Ntfs.sys”.


What was my first move after seeing the error message?

What the heck is this? I have another Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop, I started typing in the error message in google to find some help. Wow, lots of help, let me try the first one from Microsoft. I followed the steps with lots of hassles, I kept going further until I saw a file not found in the desired location at step 6 from the article. Well, I want to patch the ntfs.sys but it is not located at the instructed location of the Windows recovery drive. This is strange, I got my first doubt that I might have crashed the hard drive. I restarted the machine to run chkdsk command in recovery console. It got me one lost or corrupted file, I ran it 3 times losing 6-8 hours to get it fixed but couldn’t get any success.

What to do when I can’t fix my ntfs.sys from the Windows XP CD or by running chkdsk command?

I was confused, I thought if I have a bad CD so started to look for the same file from my Windows Vista CD. I got some warnings as the OS is different here. I could see a window where it kind of showed my used space and free space from the hard drive. Now I have more free space than before, I am worried now and thought might have lost some data from My Documents and Desktop folder. Finally couldn’t get any help from the vista CD so got over it.

Now I thought to try windows repair option, I knew I might lose some of my data but I don’t know why I continued with that. Well, I started noticing some IO errors while repairing windows xp but there was only one option to click OK and kip going. It went through the installation process and started rebooting, it is a new blue screen with “STOP: c00021a {fatal system error}. The Session Manager Initialization system process terminated unexpectedly.” error.

Can Data Recovery Professionals Help me?

I thought to give up and started looking for help from professionals to recover my data first. I called my friends, looked in web to find some professionals that master on recovering data from crashed hard drive. One of my friends suggested to browse craigslist.org to find local professionals. He also said the data recovery service typically costs around $20-$50 if it is done through local data recovery professionals else geek squad will charge up to $300-$400. Hey, $400 for data recovery? Are you crazy? I can’t afford such amount so looked for some local experts and noticed the service charges were typically in a range of $40-$60 in Chicago land. I started calling them and write emails, looked for some reviews and had a lookup on their websites as well. Finally settled with Carlos from Semper Wi-Fi, his data recovery charge is $60 that includes pickup and drop. I tried to negotiate for $50 but he insisted to go with $60 as he gives home pickup and delivery service, seems to be a fair deal to me. He also quoted the service would take 2 hours only, though it went to 2 days, I was comfortable at it as I had no emergency.

Carlos dropped back the laptop hard drive in 2 days after recovering around 65GB of data, I insisted to retrieve My Documents and Desktop folder as I had the most important images at these places. He completed the job professionally sparing his valuable 2 hours at my home while transferring the data from his laptop to my external hard drive. It was really slow to transfer the data from his HP laptop to my iomega external hard drive but he was patient enough to complete the job. I recommend Carlos for any data recovery requirement and he is also qualified in giving several computer services, for details please check his website.

He also advised me to buy a new hard drive as there is very less likely I can repair or make a fresh windows install on it. We both tried fixing it for hours but failed to do so. I looked for the same Seagate ST9160821AS Momentus 5400.3 160GB SATA/150 5400RPM 8MB 2.5 Hard Drive and finally got the cheapest one from Amazon for $37.95, remember this is refurbished but I am happy with it. I just looked at it to grab the url and price seems to be bumped by $10 to $47.95. I was really lucky to buy the hard drive in lower price. I am still waiting to receive the laptop hard drive and I have to invest my time in making fresh installation for all my applications along the Operating System, I am planning to install Windows XP Professional this time.

New hard drive is originally sold by digitalet.com and use IMBACK coupon code to get 5% off if you decide to buy something from them.

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