Jan 21, 2007

How-To: 4 Steps to More Easily Recover Files

Since we are going to be working with DOS on this one, it helps to gather some information ahead of time. You’ll want to know the location of the files you are trying to recover on the dead drive (e.g. ‘D:\My Pictures\Photos‘) as well as where you’ll want any salvaged files saved (e.g. ‘C:\Backup\Photos‘).
In Windows XP, open the start menu and click on Run. When the dialog box appears, enter cmd and hit enter.

You should now be presented with an open DOS window. This is where you will enter the xcopy command. The format is as follows:
xcopy “[location of files to be copied]” “[directory where the files should be copied]” /C /H /E /Y
So, if were were to use my earlier examples, the command would appear as so:
xcopy “D:\My Pictures\Photos” “C:\Backup\Photos” /C /H /E /Y
A quick explanation of a few things:
While I use them each time (it’s just easier that way), the quotes are necessary only if any of your directory paths contain spaces in them. If you don’t use quotes, you will end up with a “Invalid number of parameters” error.
The various flags each allow this process to go much more smoothly:
/C continues the copying process if errors (like a corrupted file) occur.
/H ensures any hidden or system files will be copied.
/E tells the system to copy any sub-directories it may find, even if they are empty.
/Y suppresses any prompts asking you to confirm your desire to overwrite existing files in the destination directory. This is, obviously, optional.
This could take a while. The system will move through each file, skipping over any which produce errors. If your drive is extremely corrupted, this could mean recovering only a few files. The unfortunate thing about this tip is that it doesn’t improve your chances if recovering files, it simply makes it easier to recover those files which dodged the bullet.