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Windows 7: Startup Repair Offline - Partial restore - Lost data

13 Jul 2015   #1

Windows 7
Startup Repair Offline - Partial restore - Lost data

Hi guys, new to the forums and in need of some help.

I was called in to look at my parents PC despite being no expert myself. Windows was unable to boot and was giving a message along the lines of it was unable to access the device?!. The given options were to try booting Windows 7 again (which brought me back to the same point) or to go to System Restore. Having already been unable to use a system repair disk after receiving the message 'startuprepairoffline', I tried System Restore.

Mistakenly I thought it would give me the option to set the system back to a previous date but it was actually going to reinstall the OS. I only realised this after I had started the restore so I turned the system off by holding the power button as I didn't want my files to be lost. I thought my next best bet would be to connect the PC hard drive to my laptop, copying across the files and resuming the System Restore for a fresh install.

When I took out the hard drive and connected it to my laptop I couldn't find any of the files. In fact, 142GB of the 143GB drive appeared to be free! So I'm wondering what has happened to the data as all folders on the drive are empty. Could the system restore process have deleted the files (or file table) in the short time it was running? And is there a way to recover them?

Thanks in advance

My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2015   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit - Build 7600 SP1

System Restore only puts your PC back to the state it was as of the Restore Date. It does not reinstall the OS. You must have hit something else. If you started reinstalling the OS, it would have formatted everything. Let me ask a question. Did you only have a C: drive in your PC or was there a D: and E: maybe? A OS Install will only format drive C:. If you have a D: drive, it will not format that. How many drives do you have?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2015   #3
Microsoft MVP


How is it possible to mistake Install Now for System Restore? That's what you would have had to do while booted into the Win7 installation media in order to wipe out your data and format the drive. There would have been several steps in which you'd have had to participate and could not miss that you were doing a Clean Install Windows 7.

Which one of the steps pictured in the blue link told you that you were actually doing a reinstall instead of System Restore?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Jul 2015   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Attach the HDD to your laptop again. Get Partition Wizard free, and start the "Partition Recovery Wizard" within it. Select the HDD, Full Disk, Quick Scan. See if you can see parent's HDD's partition/s after scan is over.

* You can also try this with HDD being attached to parent's PC but you will need to download the bootable ISO (from within PW free) and make it a bootable CD/USB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2015   #5

Linux Lite 3.2 x64; Windows 7, 8.1

What GoKay said is correct. There's another prog call TestDisk that will do this, but it's in DOS. What happened was the installer wiped the partition in order to overwrite. Hopefully it didn't get to do a full reformat (I doubt it did).

If rescuing the old partition doesn't work, or doesn't bring the files back, the next step is to try file recovery using the likes of Recuva.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jul 2015   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Actually we got 1 more GUI free tool, "Partition Find & Mount free". You can try with this if PW free fail, then try TestDisk.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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