Back From Data Loss Hell

I spent the last 3 days spent having a nervous breakdown because all my data seemed to be lost, praying that I can salvage them after all, and re-installing my Windows 7 system. Things seem to be back to normal now, but that’s one hell of a ride I don’t wish to repeat ever again.

It started last Friday when I was editing the Monster Hunter Podcast (Episode 13, mind you). Before the editing session I watched an episode of Day9 Daily. I have downloaded the episode previously on my Windows 7 partition but since I was logged in under OSX, I just watched it directly from there.

After the editing I switched back to Windows, uploaded the finished Podcast and tried to delete the file. Strange. It didn’t work. The error said something about the file not being found or some other problem. I booted in OSX again but I couldn’t delete the file there either. So I thought I end the day by switching back to Windows and running CHKDSK. That seemed to take ages like always so I just let it run and went to bed.

Next morning, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t even at 50%. Quite annoying but I never used the Windows 7 CHKDSK before. Maybe that was normal? Estimating from the time it was going on already I derived that it would be finished by the evening. I decided to shop groceries, cook some food and catch up with Monster Hunter Tri in the meantime.

By the evening, the scan didn’t progress much further. I started getting worried. I decided to give it one last night. On Sunday morning, it was at 59%. I pulled the plug (no soft cancel, really classy Microsoft). Windows booted up. Later I would discover that this was the last time that Windows would ever boot up.

It greeted me with errors from all sorts of programs. One of them being CrashPlan so no backup for me this time. I also noticed that I was missing around 10GB disk space since I last checked. I went into panic mode. I suspected that my Hard Drive was fading or that CHKDSK screwed up the file system or something in this regard. I tried to download some alternative disk recovery solutions. Firefox wasn’t working properly either. I had to use a flash drive and my old notebook. I managed to get a Seagate utility started. It scanned but the tool apparently didn’t do quite what I expected. I tried the O&O tool. That one didn’t even manage to install. The installer threw at me cryptic messages. Really scary stuff. I’m talking message boxes filled with punctuation marks. It was clear that I needed to abandon ship.

I pulled all important data on an external drive. I was especially worried about the TRAUMA files. Luckily, it went without a problem. On my way out I even checked the Day9 video. I still couldn’t delete it. But I could watch it. WTF?!?

I restarted, forgot to switch to OSX. Windows attempted to boot again. It failed with a blue-screen and an immediate hardware reset. Goodbye Windows.

Back in OSX the Bootcamp assistant didn’t even recognize the old Windows partition anymore. I repartitioned the drive into an All-Mac partition and started a couple of diagnostic tools. They found some benign errors. Nothing that would indicate a hardware failure. So I created a new Windows partition and started from scratch. This was Sunday evening. Now it’s Monday evening and I have most of the stuff up again.

I have no clue what happened. Seemed to have been some weird OSX / Windows issue. I’m really paranoid about accessing the partitions from the other system now. I need to find some secure solution to transfer data. I went with a fresh demo copy of MacDrive but it crashed on me again this evening. Well, I won’t be touching that again.

But hey, let’s look at the bright side. It was a good opportunity to filter out some of stuff. I got rid of some old podcasts I wouldn’t able to catch up with anyway. I was able to install only the software I really need. I also have much more space now, mostly because I reserved a bigger partition for Windows now.

I just wished I hadn’t lost yet another weekend. :(

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

5 responses to “Back From Data Loss Hell”

  1. Yu-Chung Chen

    Ironic that I just recently read your online backup article AND started listening to the Monster Hunter podcast.

    Good that you got your data back!

    I’m having strange problems with the system myself. Problems no-one else on googleland seem to have… Glad you got your issue sorted, even if by radical means and costing too much time.

  2. sirleto

    sounds like somekind of virus probably?
    there are stranger things than one can imagine …

    good that atleast you had a backup :-)

    1. Krystian Majewski

      I doubt it was a virus. I’m using an Anti-Virus program that saved me a couple of times before. I haven’t installed anything new lately either. Finally, it wouldn’t explain the ultra slow CHDSK.

      About that Backup? The online one was about halfway done. The only other I had was 3 weeks old. So I was really lucky that I was able to copy my stuff before the system gave up.

  3. Clayton Hughes

    “I also noticed that I was missing around 10GB disk space since I last checked.”

    I wonder if this is just the result of different storage reporting.

    I think the latest OSX shows storage capacity in a decimal-based notation, instead of octet-based. (That is, 1 GB is 1,000 MB in OSX and 1024 MB everywhere else (and so on for MB and KB)).

    This means a GB in Windows is about 7% bigger, which, based on 10G being missing, I’d guess you have a 150GB hard drive?

  4. sirleto

    i do not have any anti virus software running all the time, just check every few months.
    they do not help for the real threats (because they are retarded slow when it comes to “cool” viruses), and anything else you can get easily removed by simpler tools…

    the only real problem i once had (4 years ago) was a virus that hid so well using so many anti-windows tricks, it made a lot of things i wouldn’t expect. i.e. chkdsk crashed even (because the behaviour then was slowing the system down a lot etc, and i just did defrag and chckdsk atc to make sure its not the hardware).

    i even had to remove it from the disk via a second linux system running, as there was no windows tool available that could get arround the viruses tricks.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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