lost everything reinstalling windows xp

August 24, 2010 at 14:54:37
Specs: windows xp
let me start of by saying i'm not very computer savvy so you may need to explain accordingly. problem started when windows xp wouldnt boot, then i got a new windows xp home pack 2 cd and was told to use it to reboot and fixboot would solve my problem. well it did and everything was working fine. then i had the same problem again, so i used my xp CD to try to fix problem again. well dont ask how but i ended up reinstalling xp instead of repairing. i did a setup instead of repair, i pressed D and this created a new partition. anyway once i realized it, the reinstall was continuing and i didnt know how to stop it. when it was complete, to my horror, everything i had setup before was gone, including all my files, music, everything. i couldn't even connect to wireless internet. is there anyway i can go back to the setup i had before? if so, i would need step by step instructions on how to do it, cuz i'm very limited in my computer knowledge. any help would be appeciated.

See More: lost everything reinstalling windows xp

Report •

August 24, 2010 at 15:20:36
well - the data has likely been formatted, so the first thing you should not do is install/write any data to the drive, that will cause problems....

A tool I can recommend is recuva (http://www.piriform.com/recuva)
It is a free ware tool that specialises in file recovery, just download/install it to another drive, and scan the hard disk for pictures/files/whatever...ect, and it should show a list of files you can recover from that drive

Just remember to copy the data OFF the drive, otherwise you could overwrite other data!

Hope this helps!

Report •

August 24, 2010 at 15:24:02
Unless you backed up your files ( you should always do this), when you hit D to delete the partition, it reformatted and wiped it clean. If you only had one partition and formatted it, everything is gone. The reason you can't connect to the internet is because after a format, you need to install all the drivers for your hardware again. Go to the manufacturer's website and you can find the drivers. You'll need the chipset drivers for the motherboard and the drivers for any other hardware you have hooked up. If you need more help, post back.

Report •

August 24, 2010 at 17:27:19
Try recuva or one of the others listed below. As was stated, do not write anything more to that partition. If you only have one partition then install the recovery software to a CDR and run it from there. Then if files are found you have a number of options to copy them. First see if anything is available, then get back to us for more help.

Some other file recovery software below.

PC Inspector (freeware)

Zero assumption Recovery
The demo is limited
It will only recover 'up to' four folders per run
But you can make multiple runs

GetDataBack - not free

Report •

Related Solutions

August 24, 2010 at 20:08:26
thanks for the replies, let me state again i know very little about computers so please explain like i'm computer illiterate. drives, partition, etc is foreign to me. thanks for your patience. so anyway, i got on my wifes mac and figured out how to copy recuva onto a CD-R. recuva's currently scanning my harddrive, it will take awhile, i'll get back to you. if i do lose all my files, etc, my main goal is to be able to get online on my laptop. once i do that, then i can start reloading all the important programs i used. you stated i need to find drivers. once i do that, what would i need to do, in detail, to get back online. i was connecting to a neighbors unsecured wireless network cuz i couldn't get my laptop to connect to our linksys router for some reason, it was just easier. right now, i can't even view wireless connections in range. any help would be appeciated, i'm really frustrated i can't online.

Report •

August 24, 2010 at 21:51:27
ok update: ran a scan on recuva..looks like everything showed up to restore. i scrolled thru and looks like alot of music, pics, etc just by quickly glancing. i'm gonna hold off on restoring them for right now, cuz it says not to store on previous drive. so what drive do i store it all on then? a CD-R or do i have to get a new hard drive(i'd prefer not to do that)? what do you think would be my best course of action? i also looked up the manufacturers website for downloads but i need to get some more cd-r's before i can download them. would still appeciate help on getting back online. thanks again all.

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 03:13:30
Buy yourself a USB external drive that is at least the same capacity as your laptop hard drive. Use it to backup your laptop files.

Below are some examples. That vendor is a good one but you may want to buy locally because of the time factor. I am linking only 3.5" hard drives because they require an AC power supply, which makes them much more dependable. There are also 2.5" units that are more portable. For backing up files you should choose the more dependable.


You may have an even wider choice on the type of external drive you can use. Or if you have a desktop type computer you could probably install a second internal hard drive.

You didn't post any details (specs) on your computer so we can't tell you what you did wrong. If you have a pre-built computer like a Dell, Acer, emachines, etc. then you may have restore files already on the hard drive located on a hidden partition.

There was no reason to buy a copy of Windows if that was the case. Post the computer model for more assistance on how to get it fully working again after copying the personal files.

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 07:20:16
laptop is toshiba satellite a105 s2231

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 07:25:27
can i do this without buying an external hard drive? why can't i restore it back to my laptops hard drive?

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 07:46:55
"why can't i restore it back to my laptops hard drive? "

Then you will overwrite all the files you found and they will be totally gone. It was mentioned in your responses.
You might want to use some large capacity thumb drives,
copy to that and use a different PC to store that info. On the other PC you can easily burn cd's or dvd's of all your files. Just keep re-using the thumb drive untill you have all your files saved to another PC. That will save you having to buy an external HD.

Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 08:08:49
so basically i can never have my files back on my laptop? i can only save them on a drive? i don't get it..i have created a new partition on my drive, why can't i restore them to the new partition? i'm sorry if i sound dumb but i'm trying to understand this. i want to get the files i found back onto my laptop's drive the easiest way possible without going thru all the other trouble if i don't need to. if i can't i guess it's not a big deal, i just need to reconnect to the internet and i can redo most of what i had before, its just a pain..

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 08:27:32
so basically i can never have my files back on my laptop? i can only save them on a drive? i don't get it
I would let someone with better PC knowledge help you with your dilema.
Google is a real good friend to have.
It will increase your knowledge...I use it all the time ;-)

Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 08:51:15
thanks i will check it out..but i'm trying to resolve this problem first, thats why i'm on here..

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 12:02:12
Look, you have this problem now because you only had ONE copy of your personal files. You should ALWAYS have at least TWO copies of your personal files.

There are many ways the files can be lost. Hardware failure is just one, user error like now, theft, fire, etc. You need another place to keep the files. If you don't want to buy an external drive then burn the files to DVDR or CDR. It depends on how many files you have weather that is practical or not.

Keeping only one copy of your personal data is just plain stupid.

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 12:07:06
I forgot to tell you that AFTER you get your hard drive straightened out you can copy the personal files back to the laptop. You still need to have a second copy somewhere.

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 13:50:25
The reasons you can't just copy the files back to the partition are:

1. You are trying to get your hands on as many files as you can that were not overwritten when you worked on the machine. Fortunately the rest are not completely deleted but only made invisible by "marking them as deleted".

2. If you copy them back to the same partition then this action will start overwritting the old traces as you go, so this will further limit the number you can recover.

You have to use some other device such as a flash drive (stick), as already given. Any further work you do on the machine in the meantime could overwrite your old files, so it has to be kept to the "absolute minimum".

Once you've got your files back (or as many as you can) that is the time to try getting your machine working again. Don't do it yet!

Ms Hulot goes horse riding

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 20:38:13
look i don't need to be lectured about why i didn't have a backup file, whats done is done. if you don't want to help then don't. goodbye..to those who do want to help, thanks a million..i obviously came here cuz i don't have the same knowledge as you do. please be patient and if you can answer my questions so i can understand, then great. i'm trying to resolve this the quickest, cheapest way possible and i need to understand what i'm doing so i dont make the same mistake again. my question was if i created a new partition on the hard drive when i reinstalled xp, then can i get the files and programs into that new partition after i save them onto a CD-R or thumbdrive? if yes, then how do i do it? as far as i can understand, this new partition has nothing on it and plenty of room. i ran recuva and all the programs and files are still there somewhere but i haven't done anything with them yet til i figure out the best course of action.

Report •

August 25, 2010 at 21:01:57
And I gave you good advice with those goals in mind. If you want to be back in the same position again then DON'T keep backups of your personal files.

Did you read #14 above? You can have the files back on the laptop, just not now.

It was already explained that writing to the drive now will overwrite the files you currently see for recovery.

I guess you need more of an explanation. Once you formatted ALL the files on the drive were marked as erased. Evidently you used Quick format, which doesn't actually overwrite the files but just removes the location of that file from any file allocation table.

So, what you perceive to be available space, may in fact be the same space where the original files are currently residing. There is no way to know if any of the original files would be included in any new partition your created. Nothing is currently keeping track of the location of those files.

You have been advised to copy them elsewhere. If you don't want to do that then go ahead and try it your way.

The cheapest way is to always have a copy of your personal files. That way you don't ever need to spend time and money on recovery.

Hard drives will eventually fail. Even before they do fail other calamities may happen. Someone may inadvertently format the drive, as an example. Had you used the full format process, you wouldn't be seeing any recoverable files.

Do you have any idea how many MB of personal files you had? A single layer DVDR holds 4.4GB of data. Buying DVDR in 25 or 50 packs cost less than a quarter a piece. A decent sized USB external drive can be had for way under a hundred bucks. Some USB drives come with software that automatically back up your data on a schedule. Smart and cheap investment.

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 07:18:00
thank you for the in depth explaination, i just needed that explained more clearly. yes i forgot to mention i did use quick format. i have no problem copying the files but i didn't want to spend on an external hard drive if their was another more inexpensive option so i'm gonna go buy some CD-Rs and try to copy them on that. i've learned my lesson there. until i do that, i'm not doing anything on my laptop. when i did the recuva scan, my files showed up and then it asked me if i want to restore. i stopped at that point and cancelled. is it ok to do that scan again, i believe it showed how many MBs of files i had. i'll post that when i scan again. i've had this laptop for about 6-7yrs and never had a problem so this is all foreign to me. none of my files are life or death but theres tons of photos, music, and programs that i like to use so i'd like save them. i need to download drivers etc to get back online so i'm gonna try to save these files before i do that. thanks again, i'll post my progress.

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 08:59:27
ok i just went and bought a 50pk of cd-r's..i'm running recuva again. any advice on how to transfer them to cd-r?.will it tell me when i need to use another cd-r? i guess i'll play it by ear.

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 10:34:30
I don't know who your #16 was addressed to but it's unwise to blast off folk who are trying to help. FWIW my #15 was my answer to your #8.

Whatever, I'm outta here.

Ms Hulot goes horse riding

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 10:56:51
I haven't used recuva so I don't know if it will allow you to use your burning software. If so, you would need to watch the meter to see how much space is left.

I only tested recuva on a second hard drive when I first learned about it by using it while in Windows so I can't help much with your method.

I just read the help files for recuva and here is what I found.
"Note: Remember that Recuva does not work on CDs, DVDs, or other optical media".

So it appears recuva can't access your burner. Do you have a memory stick? You could write to a memory stick and then use another computer to burn those files.

How are you running recuva?

FYI, cut and paste is easiest but risky. If something goes wrong during the process you may lose that file/s. I suggest you use copy/ paste instead. Then you will need to track on paper what files you have copied. Your choice on how to proceed.

In #13 above I was pointing out the various ways to backup personal files. Right now you are trying to recover files from a formatted partition.

Just out of curiosity boot into the working version of Windows and explore the partition to see if you have TWO installations of Windows by chance. I don't think that is the case from what you posted but worth a look.

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 11:40:33
i ran recuva again and it found the files, then i tried to recover on D drive with CD-R. it doesn't seem to want to do it, the reason said "incorrect function". i'm guessing that means i can't use CD-Rs. by the way, i have 70.3 GB of files. they're mostly docs, pics, and music from what i can see. i don't have a memory stick, i bought 50 CD-Rs. i can go to the store and buy one i guess. i copied recuva on a cd-r and loaded it into my laptop then ran it from there. not sure what you mean by copy/paste, i know what that is but not sure what you suggest i do with that. when you say boot into the working version of windows and explore the partition, how would i go about exploring the partition? i can give it a try. i posted for help on the recuva forum to see if they can help also. thanks for your help in this frustrating time, much appreciated.

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 17:13:51
When you are in WinXP click on the C drive icon and choose explore. Look at what is installed on there right now. Probably just WinXP but maybe not.

When using recuva you need to copy the found files to another location (flash drive or external HDrive) You can normally choose to cut a file and then paste it elsewhere. That is a standard Windows function. When using cut and paste the file is removed from the original location and held in memory until you use the paste command to put it wherever you are moving it to. When using copy/ paste instead, the original file stays where it was and you are just making a copy that is held in memory until you paste it somewhere.

The problem is that if something goes awry while the file is held in memory that copy will be lost. If the original has been cut you won't have the file at all. Most times nothing goes wrong, but there is the occasional time. The issue is trying to keep track of which files you actually copied when using copy.

Do you have another computer available?

Report •

August 26, 2010 at 19:36:27
ahh i understand..i think tomorrow i'm gonna buy a flash drive and try to copy onto there. my wife has a mac but i'd rather not mess around with it. i searched the c drive and didn't see anything familiar on there. i'll give the flash drive a shot, and if that doesn't work, i'm gonna give up. i can't think of anything that's super-important i lost, just a bunch of pics that i can copy from my wifes mac, a ton of mp3's that i can reload, and other docs that i can live without. i was able to download the drivers i lost for my laptop and i'm back online again. all the programs i liked to use, i can download again, its just time consuming. i'll post if it works tomorrow.

Report •

August 27, 2010 at 22:05:34
ok so i bought a 8gb flash drive. i restored a bunch of files on it from recuva. i copied them onto my laptop, then erased the flash drive and did it a few times. all in all it worked out pretty well. i was able to get the mp3's, pics, and docs i was looking for. i downloaded the programs i had before for the most part and everything seems to be running fine. thanks for everyone's help, much appreciated.

Report •

August 28, 2010 at 00:22:39
Fascinating post... and one hopefully one more than a few will read - if only for the explanations offered as to what/why etc. when one reformats and so on...

But also the very clear lesson it gives re' having all data (pics, mp3s and the like) safely copied (duplicated) elsewhere - and not left on the hard-drive only....; and those copies regularly updated too.

Current term for this duplicate storage has become a backup; although originally that meant something quite different. Originally "backup" meant a "code only" recording (backup copy) of what was on a given drive/partition etc.; could not be read or viewed etc. until re-installed appropriately.

Incidentally I "strongly advise ctbullets" (as did others above) to get an external hard-drive; and use that for duplicate/safe storage... Flash drives are not known for their overall reliability; and are more for short term storage and transfers...; have a fixed number (quite a high number) of allowed erase/reformat etc. before they allegedly "die"...

Report •

August 28, 2010 at 05:52:30
You didn't specify where you offloaded the files you recovered. Now that you have a sleeve of DVDR disks you will need to get a burning program. WinXP can't natively burn DVD media.

There are many freeware programs available. I strongly suggest you burn your photos, especially, to optical disk. I still think an external hard drive would serve you well. You may not be aware of it but commercial imaging programs like Acronis true image can create an image of your entire drive. That image can be used to restore the hard drive or just one partition on it to the same state it was when the image was made. In addition to that feature it can do incremental backups on whatever schedule you choose. This saves you the time and effort of installing Windows, then the updates, if they are even available, then your programs and then copying back your personal files.

There are also external drives that come with programs like Acronis already loaded.

Report •

Ask Question