Rough couple of days.
Based on the advice of a couple of you smarties, I went out and bought PartitionMagic the other night, thinking I'd be all cool and create a partition specifically for my OS. Welp, I'm assuming it was complete operator error, because the process went horribly awry, and I ended up losing most (if not all) of the data on both of my hard drives. Had I done a recent backup? Noooooooo, that would require common sense, something I hope I've clearly demonstrated that I lack.
Anyway, I asked friends for advice on whether the data could be recovered, and was really frustrated with the advice I received. Not for the eagerness with which it was offered, but for the sheer range of it. I heard things from "download this free utility and you can get it all back pretty easily" to "dude, I know a professional service that can do it but you better expect to pay two or three grand for it." All was delivered with equal emphasis, making it impossible for me to tell what was the correct route.
In the end I decided to try a few possibilities in order, starting with the "inexpensive but not too cheap to sound too good to be true" option and working my way up to deciding whether my lost porn collection is worth the time and trouble.
I'm kidding ... the porn collection is saved on CD (of course! duh!). It's the books I was working on and the family pictures that I'm really worried about.
I purchased a copy of GetDataBack last night, a do-it-yourself utility that promises to walk the user through simple steps of recovering data. I suppose it's ironic to have started here, when you consider that at this point I shouldn't even be trusted to turn my computer ON, much less attempt to navigate corrupt disks using an application completely unknown to me.
But! This utility is SWEET. The demo version wanders around the drive you melted and looks for survivors, then gives you a list. You can preview each file to ascertain the extent of any damage to it. If you decide to register the software (it's $79), the full version allows you to start saving the recovered files. From what I can tell, it found most of my music collection (so far). I'm saving everything it found to an external HD I have hooked up via a USB 2.0 connection, which is taking awhile since the data transfer is akin to pushing a golf ball through a garden hose.
After it's done with the big disk, I'm going to have it sift through the smaller one, the one from which I think some data has been irretrievably lost, because I reformatted when I rewrote WinXP onto it, and I've reinstalled one or two other programs (AdAware, Firefox, Spybot). The smaller one is the one I had stored the pictures and my writings. So at this point I'm cautiously optimistic.
Anyhoo, lesson learned. I have a whole spindle of new CDs I'm planning on filling up with my stuff, once I figure out what stuff I have left. Gah.
Skipping out early today to catch the SITH MATINEE. wOOt!
Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to score TEH H3LM37 from Teh Hang yet, so I'll be costumeless.
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I win! Yey.