Server Recovery Runs Smoothly, but All Data Lost--Way to Retrieve it? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello:

    I had a situation in which my server appeared to be running smoothly (no strange indicator lights), but I could no longer access it through any method from any of my computers. The router and network all seemed to be fine, and I could see the server was there, but the tray icons were all grayed out, and I could get the server to come online for a brief moment right after a reboot, but then it would disconnect. I could not log on remotely, access folders, or use the console. So I read up, and found that with my HP MediaSmart EX490 server there comes a Server Recovery disk with two options: A Server Recovery that rewrites the operating system but preserves data, and a Factory Reset that wipes everything. I decided to go ahead with the former, as it said it would preserve my data. I read on various forums that this operation was tricky, and things could go wrong, but I followed the instructions very carefully (including choosing the allegedly lossless "server recovery" option), and the entire process went without a hitch.

    That is, until I reinstalled my client software and connected to the server and found that all of my data was gone. No more folders, or backups. I set up remote logging, and logged on to have a look at the disks, and sure enough, my one data drive is completely empty now.

    I read somewhere that it takes a long time to restore the data, so I waited a day.

    I read somewhere that you might need to restart the server and then wait a long time, so I rebooted, and waited another day.

    I read here that there was a hidden drive called DE that might have my data, so I went and found that, and all it had was the original, factory-installed client software files.

    I read somewhere else that it might be possible to get the data using some kind of disk recovery software, but I have no idea if that will work, where to get it, or even what to get.

    Was wondering if anyone can explain any of this, or what I might try next to get my data back? Or should I just give up, maybe? Lots of data lost at this point. It's so weird, because the whole recovery process went so smoothly; I was completely broadsided by the loss of data.


    Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:05 PM

All replies

  • I think it will depend on how many disks you had and whether duplication was switched no. Please read this informative FAQ:


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:23 PM
  • Thank you for replying Phil. I'm pretty sure neither my system drive nor my one single disk drive (the only one) failed on the server. It's possible the OS became corrupted, I suppose, or that the OS accidentally tried to write over data on a filled data drive and somehow lost its pointers, but I don't even understand how the latter could have happened if the pointers were on the system drive. I guess if the pointers were on the system drive, though, they indeed would be potentially lost if the OS became corrupted. What didn't happen is that the tombstone pointers did not get recreated as a part of the OS recovery. I'm pretty sure this was what people were telling me would take a long time, but I'm also pretty sure that after two days if it hasn't happened yet it's not going to.

    I have not written a thing to the data drive since the recovery completed. I have stopped the server from doing backups for now, in case there is data I can recover. I don't know if the system writes stuff to the data drive when it performs a recovery, but it certainly looks like it does, because the empty default share folders are all there, while everything else that used to be there is now gone.

    I'm still hoping someone can tell me a way to recover the data in the absence of the pointers to shares that don't seem to have been rebuilt. I'm guessing it's still on the drive, but there are just no pointers. It would be really cool if there was some kind of utility that could simply rebuild the pointers, rather than having to use a data retrieval program that renames files and so forth. But then, I'm a dreamer...

    Thanks again.


    Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:07 PM
  • If the data is still there and the file structure has not been overwritten, this might help:


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:15 PM
  • Wait: I take it back: I have only one disk, with a partition for the system, and a partition for the data, mapped as two drives. I should have used the disk management tool to look at them before, but initially I just used the disk properties, which don't tell you about partitions (or maybe I didn't see where they do).

    Anyway, one disk, two partitions.

    I guess that means if I did have an overflow and the system tried to write to invalid address space this could have hosed everything. I wonder how likely that scenario is...? Who writes a file system like that?


    Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:16 PM
  • Then I suspect you have no hope of recovering your data without resorting to expensive 3rd party solutions!

    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:19 PM
  • Ah, yes, I had already gone through this list with no luck.

    Is it unusual to have both the OS and data on the same disk in a home server? It seems like everything I've read about home servers implies there are two different disks. Even my HP manual gives separate instructions for removing the system disk and the data disk. Maybe I should look inside the actual physical server and see what's in there. this is kind of confusing...


    Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:29 PM
  • The specification for your HP MediaSmart EX490 is for a single 1TB hard disk which makes it totally susceptible to a single disk failure or a re-install - sadly not a good situation to be in! Having data and OS on the same drive is not the problem, both of my WHS2011 servers are that way, but it's how you duplicate the data that's the issue. With a single drive and no backups you can't do that!

    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:53 PM
  • That's what I'm learning. It would have been nice if HP had mentioned that somewhere in bold letters. :)

    Luckily, I am somewhat of a pack rat with data, so between several computers and external disks, I've managed to piece together just about everything that was lost on the server. The one thing I was hoping to get back was the most recent backup of my main machine, which died of a disk failure a few days ago. But as luck would have it, the disk died slowly enough that I was able to take an emergency backup of everything new since the last machine, and I still have my Windows Easy Transfer migration file from that older machine, so between the old and the new, I can do a Frankenstein restore. Lessons learned in the data world. Now I will never feel safe unless I have three copies of everything, and while I'm at it, I think I will look at keeping one good copy outside of my home from now on.

    Thanks again for your helpful comments, Phil.


    Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:09 PM
  • Hi,

    this is usually what the possibility to backup server data to external disks is for - having some emergency copy in case a disaster is demolishing your entire server.

    Best greetings from Germany

    Friday, May 11, 2012 1:45 PM
  • From your description, it seems likely that your original issue was that something corrupted the partition table on your system drive (the only physical drive in your server) resulting in an apparently missing data partition. In a situation like that, a server recovery will wipe the system partition and create a new data partition in place of the missing one.

    With only one physical drive, there is no possibility of using duplication (it would be two copies of the duplicated data on the same drive, so what's the point, really?), so you can't simply recover files from a different disk. You're left with finding some data recovery software that can deal with a disk that's been reformatted/repartitioned, or sending the disk out to a professional data recovery service to see what you can get back. I have no recommendations in either case; professional data recovery is very expensive (generally $1,000 or more) and I take regular backups of all my computers, so I don't have only a single copy of anything.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:16 PM