June 28, 2009

Damage assessment

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 3:40 pm

I have spent past 24 hours fiddling and messing with ext3grep in hope of recovering the lost data. To the point where I have dozens of papers lying around me with block numbers, inode values, diagrams and histograms spread all over them. To the point where I have a pretty good understanding of how Ext3 filesystem stores stuff — a fact for which on any other occasion, I would have been pretty thrilled about. To the point where every time I go to sleep, my dreams revolve around group descriptors and journal transactions with me recovering the data gleefully before the harsh reality of overwritten inodes gives me a rude awakening.

It’s about time I give up.

And as I look back over the failure for damage assessment, I recall:

  • Videos hunted/downloaded over 5 years.
  • Emails received/sent over 7 years.
  • In total 58.3 gigabytes of personal data.

I pride myself as a geek. And for those 7 years I had been emphasizing to the non-geeks again and again the importance of backups and implications of data loss. The first and penultimate data loss occurred in 2002, when I accidentally formatted my hard drive. Since then, I have been paranoid about the safety of my digital life and own a terabyte of storage space specifically for this purpose. Yet, when disaster struck, it was my own hands that orchestrated it. I could only helplessly feel the goosebumps and tingling sensations in my spine as I grasped the repercussions of my actions.

Right now, as I reminisce about the 7 years, I see lying in front of my the hard disk which perhaps — in plethora of bits containing zeros and ones — still has the data beyond my reach. The deepest onset of nostalgia I have ever had, combined with the gravest sense of loss makes me loathe with a burning passion this piece of machine I am typing on. Effectively I am back to square zero of my geekdom. Effectively, I have nothing now but vague and distressful recollections of what used to be my data kingdom.

“What’s saved affords no indication of what’s lost.” — Edward Bulwer-Lytton



  1. yay cheez

    Comment by osama — June 28, 2009 @ 7:09 pm

  2. 5 GB mil gae hain :p

    Comment by Bhatti — June 29, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  3. Data recovery service?

    As long as you’ve not overwritten the data, just deleted it, they should be able to recover a lot of it…

    Comment by Kirrus — July 1, 2009 @ 12:40 am

  4. Thanks for the consolatory words Kirrus :) , but as I mentioned, the only data recovery tool which somewhat works on Ext3 filesystems is ext3grep. Sadly, because of the way Ext3 works, ext3grep cannot rescue files if their inodes are overwritten.

    In short, I did try recovery tools. Had terribly bad luck though.

    Comment by krkhan — July 1, 2009 @ 12:51 am

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