Everyone’s a palooka sometimes

Recent events in my computing world were a salutary reminder that everyone will eventually earn themselves an entry in the Palooka’s Hall of Fame (PhoF).

I installed a trial version of the new Windows 7 operating system on my upgraded computer but decided that I wasn’t quite ready for it, and would go back to Windows XP. The process of installing an operating system isn’t all that hard and involves booting your computer with the installation CD, and following the prompts.

I’ve done this before quite often and have found that it is better to retain the hard drive with all your old files on it and use a clean new hard drive for the installation. That way, you’ll be able to plug the old drive in after the installation of the new operating system, and access any of the old files you discover you need.

The fresh new SATA hard drive was connected and the computer had been told that this was the Master hard drive, where the operating system was to live. I then made the mistake of connecting the old IDE drive, with all my files, before installing XP.

The old drive was plugged into the motherboard’s IDE socket and, unbeknownst to me, the motherboard decided that this should be the master drive. It couldn’t have happened on an IDE-only motherboard, but it did on this new one.

The damn thing asked me whether it should format the Master drive, in preparation for Windows XP and, although it did issue a dire warning that all data on the drive would be lost, I assumed it was referring to the empty drive, and said it could go ahead.

The formatting finished and Windows started to install itself but the process bombed out for some reason; luckily for me, as turned out. I soon realized that I had formatted the wrong drive and that there were some files on it that had not been backed-up.

Shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted, I unplugged the formatted drive from the computer, and then installed XP on the correct one. Fear and trepidation ruled the day because I realised that, although there were some files I’d miss, there was at least one whose loss would make my life seriously inconvenient.

It is possible to recover files from a formatted hard drive because they are not actually deleted and should be recoverable providing that no new files are written over the top of the old ones. That was what happened when Windows started to install itself on the drive but I had to hope that the vital files were still intact.

I went onto the Internet and found a program called Recover My Files (recovermyfiles.com) which has a very cunning marketing scheme. You can download it for free and, so as not to overwrite any files, you install it on a different hard drive to the one you want to recover files from.

After scanning the hard drive for a long time, it gives you a list of the files it has found and, after you pay $69.95, it saves the files for you in another location. The cost seems a little steep but the truth is that you don’t mind at all, when it tells you that it has found the files you thought gone for good.

I ended up getting my vital file back and quite a lot of the picture files I had been working on in the week before the event. A few of the recovered files turned out to be unusable but it seems that, when Recover My Files thinks it can restore a file, it usually can.

Luckily, my backups onto DVD disc had been pretty thorough and so I only ended losing non-vital stuff but my lapse into palookadom has reminded me of the importance of backing up.

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2 thoughts on “Everyone’s a palooka sometimes

  1. my sympathy is with you. I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago that my external back-up drive had crashed before I could install anything on the new computer. The damned thing had to go to J'burg and R1850.00 later, I have all my data back. Life with a computer is full of joy!

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