Kaboom!

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mrpijey
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Kaboom!

Post by mrpijey »

No, I didn't blow up my computer nor did a pilot request landing clearance in my living room... something else happened, something much worse... (this is a very long story, please be patient )


Thursday, April 9th:

Easter time. Which means a lot of crap food, annoying company (my family is no fun business in these times) and no servers as far as I can see. I pack up my trusty Macbook Pro and head out into the world (2 hour trip by bus, train, subway and bus again). I arrive safely (rats, didn't get mugged today either, I soo want my Macbook to get stolen... not.) and quickly reserve a place on a table for my laptop, a bluetooth mouse, enough power to keep my laptop running for days and a comfy chair. I boot it up into Windows 7, connect to the WLAN and make sure Hamachi (private VPN) is running. Oh joy, all my machines at home are online and I am back into business again.

I connect by Remote Desktop and start working on my "workstation" as I always do, repacking stuff, downloading new stuff etc. Sure I miss the humming noise of my server and there is a definite lag when I do stuff, but it's better than nothing. I spend the evening by playing Team Fortress 2 with my nephew and talk to the family.


Friday, April 10th:

Aaah, sweet morning. Beautiful weather (I hate it, too much reflections on the screen!), it's really spring weather. As most days I start with booting up the laptop (I never turn off the machines at home). and log on to my server at home. Everything seems fine, workstation has finished doing what it was supposed to and I am thinking about downloading a few games to play (legally owned of course! ).

After a few hours everything stops working all of a sudden. I get disconnected and I notice that after a short time all my nodes disconnects from Hamachi. My website isn't accessible anymore and everything seems dead.

F---!

I don't panic tho, it has happened before. I've worked out a theory that computers are indeed alive and have emotions. Because it has happened before that after months of flawless operation the network decides to die as soon as I leave the apartment for a few days. When I am at work it always works (it knows I only leave for a few hours), but when I leave on other occasions it gets worried and apparently get a digital stroke or something.

So I ask my sis husband that I need to make a detour for a few hours to get home and restart (read: talk softly to the server, calm it down and make promises it will get taken care of (bribing it with new RAM upgrade etc works too)) the system. He says that he needs to get his Jaguar on the street so he offers to drive me to my apartment and back again. Great! We head off and about one hour later I am at home. After a quick ping I realise that for some reason my linux router got a stroke. This is quite suprising since it's been running flawlessly for several years now. (footnote: It's a Pentium 4 3GHz with dual gigabit cards and one dual channel fibre channel adapter, running Smoothwall, it handles my routing and DNS stuff). But I reboot the machine (takes about 10 seconds) and everything is working again. Ping works and my machines are connected again. Yay!

So we drive back, I reconnect and things seems to be working again. The rest of the day is quite uneventful, I spend more time by talking to the family, playing Team Fortress 2 with my nephew and even spend a few hours with GTA4 (the Macbook is amazingly powerful when it comes to games!). During all this time I keep my workstation at home busy with boring stuff such as packing up new stuff, creating par2-files etc.

Later in the evening a TBG member (The Beta Group, an another beta community site for those of you that are unaware of it.) told me on MSN that he couldn't access the FTP. After a quick look it appeared that his home folder was inaccessible for some strange reason. The folder was there, but Windows refused to access it. Ah well, just another quick run of chkdsk I guessed, sometimes Windows gets confused with folders and it's usually fixed by chkdsk. So I run it, but Windows says it needs exclusive rights and it can only be run during boot up (hello Microsoft, ever heard of DISMOUNTING VOLUMES!?). So I did what I've done a lot of times before. I set the machine to reboot. The server runs itself so it reboots, scans the drive, fixes it, and then kickstart all the services back into action again. Shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes tops. The server node on Hamachi should light up when the server is running again, so I wait.

20 minutes later still nothing.... (long chkdsk...)

...

After 30 minutes I start to wonder what's wrong... I ping the network and the router is still responding, so the network didn't die on me. Ah well, nothing I can do except to wait... By this time it's dinner time so I leave the laptop running.

...

About one hour later when I return I still see that the server isn't responding. Hamachi doesn't light up, and I can't access the server by running remote desktop. I still have connectivity with my workstation, and it can ping the server, but not connect to it.

C--p.

Ah well, as long as I can access the workstation I'll be fine. Sure my email server will be down, as well as all my files. But I can still keep my workstation downloading stuff and pack up stuff for my return. All of a sudden the workstation goes offline. So does my gameserver and gaming machine. I forgot that my server is handling all the DHCP requests, so when it's offline all machines will time out eventually and disconnect themselves.

C--p again!

No machines at all! The server must have gotten stuck on some stupid service or something. I am not going to spend 3+ hours to get home and another 3+ hours to get back (it's holiday remember, public transportation is very troublesome at these times). But I'll live, I got my laptop and I got a few games loaded, so I spend the rest of the days using only that. Still hoping for a miracle tho (watching for that little green icon in Hamachi lighting up. Of course it never happens.)


Monday, April 13th

I finally get home. It's been stressful days (aren't these events supposed to be stress free and enjoyable? No, everyone is running around in warp speed buying this and that and preparing for everything... capitalism at its finest...).

My shoes has not touched the ground yet and I am half way across the apartment heading for the server. First thing I notice is an error message... "Could not write to E$, please run chkdsk" (or something like that, the E drive is btw the drive the TBG user folders are stored on). Ah well, another one of those situations where Windows gets ahead of itself and do an improper shutdown. At this point I just wished Windows (this is after all Windows Server2008 - a server product!) had some kind of feature where it forced itself to shutdown if a service got stuck. I.e "wait for service to shutdown - kill the service forcefully after x minutes of failed clean shutdown" etc. Then it would have eventually rebooted anyway, any errors I could always verify by the event log. But no, there it sat waiting. No wonder I never rebooted... stupid popup window...

I clicked OK and after a few minutes the drive started to rattle again and the server rebooted. Yay! During the bootup it ran chkdsk and started to scan the E drive. It found a few errors but I didn't bother since I had backups of everything (backups spread among other drives in case one drive failed), so I could easily see what it fixed and replace it with the backed up file. It cleared that drive, but then it started to scan another drive... and another... and it found quite a few errors... hmmm, sure I have not run chkdsk for a while, but I knew everything else worked since I used to access most stuff on a daily basis (by using the backup app that synced the backups).

The scan took several hours, but finally it was finished, it rebooted and got into Windows. It started up all the services and I was ready to go (or so I thought). I checked the TBG user folders to see if worked again, but I couldn't find the folders. I couldn't even find the drive. I noticed that several drives had swapped places (the contents on E: being on G: etc) and I even noticed that some drives had the same labels (i.e two drives named "(Data) Misc" where there is only supposed to be one drive with that name). (Note: My server has over 20 harddrives connected). After some looking around I notice what I would fear the most...

ALL DATA IS GONE!

Most folders are scrambled, 10 of the harddrives show that they are almost empty (where as most drives are supposed to be 80-90% full), and some files contains just a few restored folders. There are even some drives with mixed folders (folders from several drives all mixed on one drive). I realise that Windows must have for some reason tried to restore OLD data. Since some folders were mixed and labels were duplicated it must have tried to restore the contents I had before (I sometimes move all data from one drive to another if I need more space etc). But all the important data is gone! Over 10TB data is missing!. All my beta stuff. All my music, images, PDF documents, PC and Mac applications, emulators, heck, even the temp harddrives are "gone" and replaced by something else.

F _ _ _ !!!!

Since I made backups of the drives onto other drives there were almost always a backup of one drive stored on an another drive. I.e E: could be backed up to R:, and R: could be backed up to S: etc etc. If one single drive would fail I could always restore the drive by using the backups. But now everything was gone, all the original data and all the backups.

10TB...

At this time I was thinking up ways to reduce Microsoft HQ into a handful of rubble. I started up the recovery software and started scanning the drives with the most important data.

And I have been doing this all day today as well.


The verdict:

It seems the data is still there. Problem is that the recovery software (I use GetDataBack which has served me well in the past) sees a lot of files. A LOT of them. But it doesn't see the filenames. So I got 100000+ files, all named "". Oh joy!

I am currently looking into trying to restore the previous FAT (file allocation table) and see if I can get the old folder structure back. I am also considering restoring the important files by hand. Since I add PAR2 files to all my folders I could simply restore everything on a drive, run the PAR2 checker and let it rename all the files for me. Then I can simply rename the folder and put it back into its place.

But the hard reality is that most of the data I will never recover. Fortunately I took backup of some stuff onto external drives (some games, the TBG server files, personal betas etc) so I didn't lose that data. But it's still hard, since I've spent years collecting some of it. And now it's gone only because Microsoft made a dodgy app that didn't even ask me what to do. It just assumed it did the right thing and fixed it, without even allowing me to restore back to the previous "state".

I am going to spend a few more days on this problem and see if I can come up with some solution. After all the data is still there, just "hidden".


Lessons learned: (and people, REALLY pay attention to this if you got vital data you really don't want to lose...)
  1. Never ever trust Microsoft
  2. Never trust an antiquated file system (NTFS) to safely store your data. It lacks several important features that could have prevented this catastrophy. Such as proper journaling (with ext4 and ZFS I can even choose at what journal point I want to restore the file system) and data protection and redundancy when writing to system areas.
  3. NEVER USE RAID. It doesn't protect your data, it only adds to redundancy in case hardware fails. But it never protects the data itself from corruption like this. I used RAID before and had a big data loss back then too, most of which I salvaged (it's gone now tho!)
  4. ALWAYS sync your data to an external drive, and keep it offline until you need to re-sync! I did this with some of my data and it's safe. Unfortunately mirroring 30TB of data is quite expensive which is why I went with the backup solution I used... I never expected the entire system to fail, just a drive or two occasionally.
I am now thinking about setting up a separate server just for handling all the backups. I am also moving the DHCP service to my linux router, it's by far the most stable system. I never had a crash in Windows 2008, but I rather see it BSOD 20 times a day than get this data loss...

I am still going to work on this problem... I already purchased 4 new 1TB drives to mirror all the data I've saved, and I have also gotten new external eSATA cases for them, all with independent power supplies (read my project page on my website and you'll know why this is important for me). It will cost me my other let to afford it, but perhaps it will be an another step to prevent this kind of failures. I will setup a separate machine for my email server, rebuild and reinstall the current server into a pure file server (perhaps I'll run Linux on it, perhaps a very streamlined Windows 2008).

I will restore the TBG files as soon as I can (check the TBG forums for updates) and I'll update this log with my progress.

If anyone has any ideas on how to restore "lost" files on a drive let me know. But from what I can see Windows has either corrupted or lost the current file allocation table (file index table) and tried to fix it by "recovering" files. Of course by actually deleting the indexes off the drive. I will only touch the drives that are completely OK and I'll mirror them (doing that now). All redundant drives will be disconnected from the server, and I will most likely disconnect the "damaged" drives as well, preventing Windows from doing any more harm to them until I either find a way to restore the data, or until I give up and reformat them.

This has been a very long post (my longest so far), but perhaps you understand why . Unless some other catastrophy will land on me I'll keep the future logs a bit shorter.


...10TB...
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Arths
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Arths »

Arf, I'm really sorry for you

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Pureelite »

Oh dear god...... Sorry for your loss.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by win98 »

Kaboom and microsoft's stupidity destroys a sh*tload of data. Man that must be horrible reminds me to backup my 100gb I have on this drive which would [censored] me off just as bad.
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Hackerpcs »

That's a REALLY, REALLY big p**n in the a**.
A very little help from me: I used Ontrack EasyRecovery Professional to recover some files I deleted with TuneUp Shredder with DoD, and it managed to recover them with Raw Method. If you have no other solution left, if you want it, use it.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by zamadatix »

Hacker?pcs wrote:p**n in the a**
We are no longer allowed to say pain on the forum?

Well the data loss really really REALLY sucks, I hope you can get anything important back!.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by mrpijey »

Yeah, any data loss of important stuff hurts. A few years back on my first Pentium I had a Quantum 6.4GB drive. It crashed on me and I lost just about everything I had since the 80's. My old BBS, old coding projects, some betas of old games... all were lost. It was my first serious harddrive crash and data loss and it felt as bad as this one. Today I got four times more data on an USB stick I carry with me every day...

Unfortunately the technology doesn't improve with the density of the data. We got 2TB drives available now, but essentially using the same technology as my first 10MB drive. Sure it's faster, smaller, quieter, cheaper, cooler. But it's still a few pieces of metal discs spinning with fragile heads hovering a few micrometers above a surface, hammering away all day long. Harddrives are truly the very worst bottleneck we have in a modern computer today, both in speed and data reliability.
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Hackerpcs
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Hackerpcs »

We are allowed.

And the worst thing of it is we can't do anything about it. There are even no 10-year plans to replace this c**p technology with newer, for server owners with no more than 1000€ per month.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by dj_cityboy »

wow! damn dude your not having a good few days...sorry to hear man, i think the one key thing i got out of all this was to be sure to backup your stuff!

i am getting ready to add another 500gb drive to my system just for backup, i'd hate to find myself in yer situation, good luck on getting it back man, i could never imagine all my files being named "", i think that would be the point at which i gave up....

sometimes i find myself drooling over all the lastest huge HDD's being 1tb and up now-a-days and think about having a massive amount of em in a box with all that space, but if in the event of a failure (like yours) its nuthin more then data lost unless you have backups...i lost all my data a few years ago and it was pretty well the worst thing ever, i lost all the audio/video that i had ever produced, that i had never backed up, and a pretty large collection of betas, since then though i have learned about the savior of having backups...

they need to stop making HDD so big....the bigger they are the more data that is being stored on it, and every HDD is going to at least fail once...

peas
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by motherboardlove »

1.Never ever trust Microsoft
2.Never trust an antiquated file system (NTFS) to safely store your data. It lacks several important features that could have prevented this catastrophy. Such as proper journaling (with ext4 and ZFS I can even choose at what journal point I want to restore the file system) and data protection and redundancy when writing to system areas.
3.NEVER USE RAID. It doesn't protect your data, it only adds to redundancy in case hardware fails. But it never protects the data itself from corruption like this. I used RAID before and had a big data loss back then too, most of which I salvaged (it's gone now tho!)
4.ALWAYS sync your data to an external drive, and keep it offline until you need to re-sync! I did this with some of my data and it's safe. Unfortunately mirroring 30TB of data is quite expensive which is why I went with the backup solution I used... I never expected the entire system to fail, just a drive or two occasionally.

Sorry for that, man.

I dont really agree with your 4 points.

1 - Why?
2 - You should store on an external HD with manual backups.
3 - Correct way to say that would be NEVER USE RAID 1
I use RAID 10 for speed and backups. There's nothing wrong with it. Because it doesnt protect in ever situation doesnt mean dont use it. Its like saying dont use a AV software because it doesnt protect your from 0.001% of malware.
4 - Thats a lesson learned.

You learned these lessons the hard way... Remember - HDs fail when you don't want them to.
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by zamadatix »

motherboardlove wrote:1 - Why?
That is the only one I do not agree with all the others I do .

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Andy »

motherboardlove wrote:3 - Correct way to say that would be NEVER USE RAID 1
I use RAID 10 for speed and backups. There's nothing wrong with it. Because it doesnt protect in ever situation doesnt mean dont use it. Its like saying dont use a AV software because it doesnt protect your from 0.001% of malware.
Let me set this straight...
RAID IS NOT A BACKUP AND NEVER WILL BE, never forget that.

RAID is for redundancy, not backups. If you get file corruption, RAID1 will replicate that corruption to your mirror. It is not a form of backup and never will be.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by win98 »

That reminds me I really should get an external HDD.
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by mrpijey »

motherboardlove wrote:I dont really agree with your 4 points.

1 - Why?
Easy. Microsoft made the software, and they also made the bugs within. Chkdsk is supposed to fix your drives, not corrupt them. I don't know what Microsoft thought when they added a piece of software that hasn't been updated since Windows NT 4.0, but any modern OS should allow the user to manually roll back any fixes or allow you to choose what to do. Here it silently "fixes" your stuff, rarely puts a log of what it did and it doesn't even allow you to interrupt the process. So I don't trust Microsoft with sensitive data. And they clearly have not bothered to update the file system to a more secure and safer system. NTFS is horribly slow and inefficient with the large data quantities we have today not to mention it's unsafe. It lacks proper journaling systems and you have no control of what it's doing with your files. This may be OK for a consumer system, but for a server system I would expect more safety with the file handling (such as extra FAT areas you can control, proper logging of file management etc).

So, don't trust Microsoft keeping your data safe.
motherboardlove wrote:2 - You should store on an external HD with manual backups.
That's what I am doing now. But harddrives cost money, and I got a lot of harddrives. It's easy if you got 500GB of data, just get an another one and that's it. It's harder if you got 30 of those drives. And when all of them are 1TB and larger. And one would expect that the data is kept safe wouldn't we? Sure harddrives can fail mechanically, but I don't expect the OS to damage the data by itself.
motherboardlove wrote:3 - Correct way to say that would be NEVER USE RAID 1
I use RAID 10 for speed and backups. There's nothing wrong with it. Because it doesnt protect in ever situation doesnt mean dont use it. Its like saying dont use a AV software because it doesnt protect your from 0.001% of malware.
As Andy said, NO RAID is for backup. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Note the word REDUNDANT. Even if I used RAID in this instance I would have gotten all my files trashed as well, only difference is that the damaged files would be duplicated across the RAID array. So no RAID helps if you get file system damages. Only if hardware fails, and even then it's a gamble. And you can't compare an antivirus software to a RAID or backup solution. Antivirus solutions are improved by better code that identify threats and constant updates to find the threats. Storage hardware can not have these kind of flaws. The OS can't have any flaws in its data management code either or you get constant data failures.
motherboardlove wrote:4 - Thats a lesson learned.
As all things. You'll lose data too some day. You'll know then how "safe" your RAID is.
motherboardlove wrote:You learned these lessons the hard way... Remember - HDs fail when you don't want them to.
My harddrives didn't fail, the OS did. The OS was made by Microsoft, so Microsoft failed on me.
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Hackerpcs »

Maybe it's a reason for you to stop being so interested in Microsoft (only) betas? I think that would be the worst of the whole thing.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Whistler_fan »

Well, you aren't the only one that has an miserable day. My Intel Core i7 PC sort of died on me (it was just 2/3 weeks old, so i will RMA it, eventually), I think my motherboard is half-dead (it will go on and all the drives fans and other stuff works, but no POSTing or beeps)SO welcome to the I-Have-an-miserable-day Team

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by mrpijey »

Hacker?pcs wrote:Maybe it's a reason for you to stop being so interested in Microsoft (only) betas? I think that would be the worst of the whole thing.
Not really. I may not like how Microsoft is abandoning the file system stability or so, but that doesn't give me a reason to stop caring for what they do. I don't "pick a side" in some silly fanboy war or something . There is a lot of stuff I dislike about Microsoft, also a lot of stuff I hate about Apple and Creative too. But I still use Windows, I still love my Macbook Pro and I still use my X-fi Platinum audio card. And I will still continue working for Microsoft, being part of them gives me a better chance to actually voice my opinions to someone that cares at Microsoft... which is something I will do, I am going to take a binary dump of one of the harddrives and tell Microsoft to take a look at it... if they can see what went wrong with the file system.

But when it comes to storing data on NTFS drives I just need to be more careful in the future.
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Hackerpcs »

Glad to hear this

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by Thlump »

Wow. I feel sorry for your loss mrpijey because this really makes me worry...

anyway, does anyone know if the exFAT format suffers the same problems as well?
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by mrpijey »

Most likely, exFAT doesn't improve any of the security aspects of the file system. And on top of that, it's still managed by Windows. Sure, exFAT extends a lot of limits, but more interesting is that the overhead of exFAT is considerably smaller, giving you more space after a full format.

Problem with exFAT is first that it's a proprietary system (Microsoft has not yet learned the lesson of an open file system). That means that there's no to VERY limited support in other OS:es. (Linux can read it, but that's just about all). Windows XP can use it with a patch. But other than that exFAT supports more files, larger partitions, larger cluster sizes etc etc.

It DOES support something called TFAT (Transaction-safe FAT) which is supposed to protect against accidental data losses etc, but it requires special drives and special hardware, which of course isn't common today. And personally I don't know what kind of protection it has against the type of corruption I've suffered.
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by pizzaboy192 »

I learned that lesson with a customer's server. First time with a RAID array, and I accidentally re-initialized the thing, causing it to remove all data, luckily, I had backed up the whole drive a few minutes before I started messing around with settings.
I have also learned the lesson multiple times with my laptop. I usually so something bad enough for it to need to be re-formatted, but I also have an external drive, and some fancy adapters so that I can connect my drive to my PC, and recover the 2 folders that I usually need. (I use Windows Live Sync to backup those folders now, those being my Pictures folder, and my Homework folders)
When I was still using i386 and their clones, I killed my pc by accidentally deleting a system folder to make room for a game, and when it needed to reboot, it couldn't (oops). I never did recover that system, because I got a new one a few weeks later, and proceeded to tear apart my old one. I lost my first substantial amount of data when my old IBM minitower went down, thanks to a fan seizing up, and my hard disk overheating (the fact that it was an IBM "deathstar" wasn't helpful either). I lost 12GB of data, but using a special technique I found, replacing the system board with one from a different 12GB disk, allowed me to access 8 of the 12, but really slowly, and not reliably. My first file server went down within months of building it out of a dead Pentium 133, with an Athlon 266mhz processor in its place. the disks were fine, but they were power hungry, and they wouldn't run with my main OS hdd in also. When my iPaq server finnaly gave its ghost up a few weeks ago, I had finally learned my lesson, and let it grind away for 18 hours, as it backed up everything as a system image onto a 40gb USB hdd, over usb1.1 (painful) I still haven't gotten enough money together to backup my whole desktop pc, but I backup what I care most about. My Beta drive (a WD Scorpio I got as payment for some other favors) can be re-downloaded, but it would take a few weeks to re-create (Not a big problem). My OSBG drive, is just a backup of the OSBG FTP I run (empty as of now, so it also has Vista on it). And my main disk is imaged every other day, while I am at school using a used Maxtor OneTouch 160gb HDD (Just the Windows folder, and my files, (2 backups of my homework folder, just incase i accidentally delete something)

Just a suggestion, why not use some of the drives that you had for backups internally, as external backups, where you put them in external enclosures that you could buy off the internet in bulk.

and... a funny quote to try and possibly cheer you up (it worked for me)
"Surely the best thing about getting a face transplant, would be turning up at the donor's funeral and going, 'Ooooooo... OOOOOOOoooooooo...'" -Jimmy Carr.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by logicaL »

Ironically enough I had a similar problem a few weeks ago, and used a program called Zero Assumption Recovery and it was able to get back more stuff than GetDataBack did. There's a trial of it available of it on their website.
http://www.z-a-recovery.com/

But yeah, basically the same thing happened to me on a 80GB Drive, where the MFT (which is what NTFS uses instead of FAT) and its backup died killing the drive. Although I've never seen it across a RAID setup.

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Re: Kaboom!

Post by FarCry3r »

mrpijey, I have a similar problem with yours, but not on Server OS, but rather on consumer OS, Windows Vista. My drive suddenly empty after Windows completed chkdsk, and it turns out the FAT was deleted. However, Paragon Partition Manager 9.0 saves the day, it allow me to browse through the corrupted drive and copy files out. Try that, and let all know if it's helping you.
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The Distractor

Re: Kaboom!

Post by The Distractor »

ouch, lost 10TB of data ?!

i'm lucky. i've never lost anything (except when w32/parite.b came in and lasted 3 reinstalls, but thats only .exe files). But I never backup, so if i do i'm <beep>ed.

liliwinnt6
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Re: Kaboom!

Post by liliwinnt6 »

How many differences are there between chkdsk of Windows NT 5 and 6? I often recover files by Windows XP chkdsk tools, effecient and long-time with /f or /r switch.
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