A student with a borked PC-formatted FireWire drive called – the drive had failed and all of his thesis work was on it — 8.5GB worth of video, ProTools audio projects, images, documents. We have a variety of Mac-based rescue tools, but didn’t have anything but Norton on-hand for PCs. Google turned up ProSoft DataRescue. 40MB download, burned to a CD, which booted… a custom version of Gnoppix(!). Went straight to its own interface, no Linux desktop. DataRescue’s philosophy is that trying to fix drives can cause more damage, so it only scans, builds databases, and offers recovery (but you gotta pay for the recovery part!). Three hours to scan, and it turned up about 95% of the lost data, which it then copied to another drive we plugged into the system. A thing of beauty.
The hardest part was creating a valid destination drive. We only have FireWire drives here, and DataRescue wanted one that was FAT-formatted, not NTFS. But… surprise! WinXP no longer knows how to format drives FAT or FAT32 — NTFS only. That meant we needed a PC with a FireWire port that wasn’t yet on WinXP. We turned up exactly one in the whole school, which saved the day and let us create a valid destination.
Boring yeah, but somehow you end up with this feeling like you’ve just pulled a body from the river, gotten it breathing again.