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