Data Recovery on F'ed up partition of windows 10

Hey all, I’ve got a family member’s HP PC, an old family member’s PC, who had lots of Junk, but it’s still his junk. I can’t reset the PC and keep data ( that operation keeps failing), there’s no older version of windows to fall back on. I work in IT and have checked all the usual places, but getting into Windows seems impossibru. Any advice or tricks to get into windows without nuking the drives and starting fresh?

Backup everything to externals and nuke.

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I dont have any backup hardware

Give it back Tyrone.

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How are the drives configured ? Os drive and data drive… Surely the windows os itself does not span both drives. You can manually sort his data over to one drive and unplug and nuke the other and rebuild.

1 TB HHD with OS and data & 500 GB HHD with data

Get to scrubbing and consider compressing the data. Do empty folders nukes… look for cloned files ect…

How? plug into another computer (kms)? I can’t get into the OS

Now that I can not help you with… Maybe a way via linux live boot. I was assuming you had direct acces to the hardware. Have you tried attempting to repair via usb and leave the data. I would assume the it was installed with the normal partitioning structure.

You do know you can reinstall Windows without formatting the drive right? It moves everything to another folder called windows.old and installs on the same partition.


i would not pull drives and plug into another computer, regardless of its OS. too much of a malware risk.

i would boot to a live cd/usb (cd is better, as its not writable, but it is much slower) , copy off all needed data to another external media, and reinstall cleanly.
yes im paranoid.

this assumes their data is not encrypted. if it is you are done here. blow away the windows install and install cleanly, you will not get the data back.
then restore from backups. they did backup right?

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^ this.
Use a Live Disc or Windows ERD, copy data directories to another disk or external media, format the drives, install Windows, harden it, then scan the data a directory at a time before introducing it to the Windows system.

Usually i do the following.

  1. install total commander.
  2. enable show hidden files/folders
  3. do a disc clean up, and clean system files etc(depending on your windows location differs, win10 fx. is located by right clicking the XYZ:\ drive).
  4. with windows commander check how much space each folder takes up, starting from root(press space to get the total space used for a folder).
  5. When you see the Users folder feks. take up 250gb go into that folder wrinse and repeat.

That way you kind of get a mapping what is taking up so much space.
And ill be a unhumped camel if there is not ALOT of junk you can narrow down doing this.
just keep narrowing in on what takes up the space.
Usually it is stuff like windows patches, and or random junk in the users folder.
And when you find the porn folder, dont forget to be smug :wink:

Hey everyone, an update. I took the drives to work (IT) and set up a secure environment. I was able to pull some basic data from them, like pictures, music, some documents, and chrome shortcuts. This family member is old and shares the computer a bit, so file management and organization is NOT their strong suit. That’s all I saved, and the rest is getting nuked when I reinstall windows: good ridance - It doesn’t seem like there’s anything malicious, he probably just did something equivalent to deleting system32.

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Thanks for the follow up.

My experience with Windows is that once something is hosed, it is better to start over. When I did use Windows for personal use, yearly reinstallations my jam just to ensure that my systems did not go down during critical times.

You may be able to leave some best practices with this computer since it is a shared resource. People tend to not care or take care with other people’s stuff now a days.

lol… I try and avoid looking into actual files and do most things by file type. Usually good enough.