Data Recovery: Part One

I’ve been collecting digital media files ever since online storage became cheaper than burning them to DVD. The shelf life is longer and I have better chances of knowing where the hell my files are. Well shelf life should be better, if you actually have a decent setup, which I’ve learned over time is something you should spend some time planning. I managed to loose pretty much most of my digital life prior to 2007 when I foolishly setup a non redundant Logical Volume Management (LVM) system on my man file server ‘max’ which was running Gentoo. After the failure, I did the initial recovery and then I turned the machine off and let it sit for almost 3 years before I tried to resurrect the box and attempt a proper recovery.

Here is what my setup was:

Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz bitsa I built from spares around my house.
4x200GB Western Digital Hard drives (800 GB Raw storage)
Operating System: Some version of Gentoo I can’t even remember, I had configured the disks into an LVM with ZERO redundancy.

I lost a disk in the middle of the array which resulted in me having a broken non functioning LVM. Not good. Studio masters from Bands I managed, photos, DJ sets both myself and friends had mixed years ago, personal files, my entire CD collection digitized (which took forever!) and numerous videos and other crap I was hoarding, all gone; Or so I thought.

I was able to use file system tools to rebuild the array and partitions and recover files from the busted LVM. I’m not going to outline how I did that, cause I don’t remember how. I followed a few tutorials I found on recovering files from ext3, ext2 and reiserfs (don’t say it) partitions and it all ended up in a nice little directory called ‘lost+found‘. Once completed I had about 500GB of files in my lost+found directory. Sweet I got my files back, but all I have is inode numbers. No file extensions, no directory names, nothing.

So I started googling to see what I could find in regards to automated recovery of lost+found directories on linux. Turns out, no one has written a nice guide on ways to recover your files. So I thought since I’ve painstakingly gone through the trials of recovering most of my data, I thought I’d do a write up. I’m going to break it up into stages as there is a load of work and steps that need to be done.

Until next time….