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Windows Hard Drive Data Recovery

About Windows File Systems

The Windows operating system in all its manifestations from becoming a true operating system with Windows NT, through Windows 2000 and XP and now with Windows Vista and Windows 7, is the world's most used desktop operating system and has carved a significant space in the server market with the relative demise of NetWare and the shift of PCs into the space previously dominated by UNIX systems from HP and Sun.

The early versions of Windows, such as Windows 286 and 3.1, were little more than operating environments sitting on top of the then dominant PC operating system MSDOS. They were a prettier and better organised variant of systems such as Gem and were the beginning of Microsoft's initial struggle to catch up with Apple's dominance in GUI computing

Windows now is found everywhere from the laptop, hope desktop and right up to corporate wide Exchange and SQL server installations.

Windows Hard Drive Data Recovery

Whilst Windows still supports the comparatively primitive FAT and FAT32 file systems the advance made with Windows NT was the introduction of NTFS, the New Technology File System. Moving away from the rigid allocation tables of FAT and allowing for larger file systems, multi-streamed files, and a greater array of file attributes, NTFS intoduced a "real" file system to the desktop.

NTFS Hard Drive Data Recovery

NTFS data recovery requirements usually result from either hard drive related failures or corruptions of or damage to the file system caused by the deletion of partitions, file deletion, or system failure causing the MFT to be damaged or partially overwritten. The nature of the NTFS file system is that the core if it is itself a file that contains entries for every file, directory or other file system entity. This file is the Master File Table, or MFT. The allocation information for any file is stored along with the MFT entry and so unless the problem resulting in data loss has been catastrophic and comprehensive, there is usually much that can be done. Often data recovery work requires that the MFT be salvaged via specialist software and the recoverable sections used to rebuild a new file system.

Windows FAT32 Hard Drive Data Recovery

FAT32, whilst less rigid in its structures than FAT, is still vulnerable to problems resulting from data being written to the allocation table area, and to file deletion. Whereas NTFS does not erase the allocation information for a file that is deleted, under FAT32 all allocation information is removed when a file is deleted and so data recovery is reliant on either the file system not being fragmented, or on the data to be recovered being identifiable by its contents. When there is damage to both copies of the allocation table then the problem is dramatically more severe, though if enough of the FAT remains then the remaining data from both copies can be combined to provide as complete a copy of the allocation information as is possible.

FAT Hard Drive Data Recovery

FAT, or FAT16, presents exactly the same problems as does FAT32 when there is allocation data loss. The second copy of the FAT does give a degree of protection but the proximity of the two copies to each other is a significant vulnerability.

Altirium's hard disk drive recovery specialists have a wealth of experience in dealing with Windows NTFS and FAT file systems and with the recovery of data by salvaging the MFT, dealing with FAT damage and corruption, even with the recovery of data from badly damaged Exchange and SQL partitions where the data can only be identified by its contents.

Last Updated (Friday, 19 June 2009 07:54)

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