If you use a HDD with a decent amount of time, there is a good chance someone has told you that data stored on the HDD is not exactly safe. It is definitely true.
The fact that unlike tapes or CDs or other methods of storage, hard drives are mechanical, active devices and are thus subject to comparatively rapid breakdown.
The real threats to hard drives are the people who use them. Working as a computer tech during the glory days of Windows XP, you get rather used to using FDISK and other hard drive utilities to prepare and repair customer’s drives, which leads to certain over confidence.
Picture this if you will; there are two or three sentences and a screen shot away from finishing a 5000+ word article on computer upgrades. All we should do was fire up FDISK on a dual boot Windows PC system and grab a few screen shots. Write a little blurb on how to partition a drive, making sure to tell the readers not to mess with FDISK if they were not sure what they were doing…
Anyway, wanted to get some more screen shots of the actual partitioning screen, but you did not have a blank hard drive handy. You can use my NTFS formatted XP drive (which FDISK perceived as a blank drive) to start the “process,” grab the screen shots and then cancel the partitioning.
Except for one little thing
FDISK, in the process of checking the disk before it prompts you for the size of the partition, writes information to certain areas of the hard drive. This data writes over whatever might have been there before. Meanwhile, there I was, watching the ‘%complete’ counter and wondering why a little red warning flag kept going off in brain? Restarted WinXP and waited for it to boot, and waited… and waited…
The hard drive that suffered the data loss was a 1TB Hitachi drive with two 5Gb XP NTFS partitions (Home and Professional) and 6Gb of unused space. Both XP partition were unbootable after the incident.
After transferring the drive to a Windows 2000 computer, then use disk manager, (to load disk manager on XP or 2000, right click ‘my computer’ select ‘manage’ then ‘disk manager’) this is what I saw.
The Primary partition where my 5000+ word article was saved, is seen as unformatted and cannot be read by the OS. The second XP partition could not be booted, but was seen as formatted and I could transfer files easily from it using explorer.