Virtual Lab

Between semesters we format the student FireWire drives for the new students to use. I get a stack of them and re-initialize partitions (faster than deleting 20,000 files and emptying trash on each). Usually there’s someone who hasn’t yet backed up and needs me to save something. Working quickly, I got through the stack of drives until I got to the “marked for save” drive and found… the wrong data. Double-check that email… Sure enough I had marked the wrong drive for saving, and had just re-initialized the wrong drive. Ulp.

Spent the rest of the evening and this morning trying Tech Tool Pro, Norton Utilities, and Disk Warrior. None of them were able to find data on the reinitialized partition. Then mneptok came to the rescue with a URL he dropped into my phone (amazing!) — BinaryBiz’ Virtual Lab. Took an hour to scan the 80GB drive, but it found everything that had been there before the wipe. And the angels up above sang hallelujah.

Interesting licensing method – you can scan any volume for free, but then have to purchase a quota-per-GB you want to save. We’re buying a 5GB quota for $120. One use is all you get. Sounds pricey, but not when compared to what you can pay for professional data rescuing services.

Update: A few days later we lost power in our home office. When power came back, my 120GB MP3 drive wouldn’t mount. DiskWarrior was able to rebuild and restore the master directory, and I got my music back. Lesson: Journaling may make drives come up faster after a power outage, but it won’t protect from all types of damage.

Music: George Harrison :: Isn’t It A Pity

7 Replies to “Virtual Lab”

  1. This was many moons ago, but when I was working at Warner-Lambert (now Pfizer, although the division I worked for is actually part of Cadbury-Schwepps now), the Director’s disk died and I had to employ the services of DriveSavers ( to restore his 120 meg (yes, meg) drive.

    This cost $1500.

  2. Prosoft Engineering’s “Data Rescue” is another alternative: it also scans the whole drive for anything which might be a file and copies it out. Saved my day last spring when my harddrive failed (and is also cheaper than $120).

  3. Glad it worked, Scot. And thanks for the shout out.

    Lars, I haven’t used Data Rescue, but the line “It may not be able to recover files off an initialized volume” on the Data Rescue page made me hesitant to recommend it. Have you tried it on a volume you deliberately re-initialized? I’d be curious to know wha’ppens.

  4. Lars, thanks a lot for the suggestion. I had not yet paid for the Virtual Lab, so I gave this a shot today. Unfortunately it did not find the missing data. Looks great for non-initialized partitions though.

  5. Scot,

    I managed to do something similar to my PC in my final year. I DOS 6.22 fdisked my 8GB drive that had been previously formatted with Fat32 – not a good move, as it destroyed my partition table. Fortunately, a product called Tiramisu came to the rescue, and I was able to get my major project back…

    Tiramisu had a similar licensing scheme: free to scan; about GBP100 to recover the data. As you say: much cheaper than a pro disk recovery service.

  6. I’ve used GetDataBack to recover drives I have formatted. It’s able to pull up the last few FAT tables and has been handy in recovering damaged partitions also.

    – mal

  7. can somebody help me out? i really need virtual lab but i can’t buy the quota because i have no card credit… i really need it,help me please….

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