This is a semi-hardware related question, and it does relate to my Latitude D600, so this is as a place as any to post it.
I recently upgraded to a larger hard drive for my laptop, after dutifully backing-up virtually every file I had onto compact disks. While reformatting the new drive with the new O/S, I inadvertently made the mistake of keeping my old hard drive attached to the computer (via an external hard drive enclosure) - and when prompted during the reformatting process I agreed (stupidly) to the installation request to remove the existing partition from the old hard drive (obscure/unfamiliar drive letters the OS referenced is my only lame excuse here). Up until that point the drive had been intact, and was bootable, or at a minimum, could be read by virtually any computer via the external hard drive enclosure connection. Now I'm not able to read the drive at all.
Since I'm posting this, obviously I was able to complete the new hard drive upgrade successfully - but there were a couple of super-large files on my old hard drive that I was not able to easily get onto the back-up set of compact disks, along with my most recent bookmarks file - and a couple of other files, that I would like to recover, if possible.
I know that the existing files and file structure all still exist on the old hard drive, since only the partition was removed, and at least I didn't make the mistake of reformatting the old hard drive - so all those files are still essentially intact on the old hard drive. I've thought of a couple approaches to recovering those files, but before I do anything, I thought I would draw on the collective knowledge of everyone for some suggestions first. And if it's any help, I do own the original Dell OS Reinstallation disk for the Windows XP Professional - which I know includes some Recovery / Console tools. Ideas?
Its a bit late now but you would have been better asking the question about backing up your data before attempting to reinstall Windows XP.
The use of SkyDrive and of an external hard drive would have both superior that compact discs. You would have had to upload your files directly via the web browser as you are using an obsolete version of Windows which reaches End of Life in April.
For more information about Windows XP's End of Life see:
Also you could have also used .7zip to split files which would have allowed you to upload them to SkyDrive via the Web Browser or to the CD.
I usually use Fedora for Data Recovery. Admittedly not tried formatting the drive with XP before attempting to recover data however you can try it see Windows Reinstallation Guide/Data Recovery Using Fedora (page 294):
I don't know if this will work in your current situation however. You may also follow the legacy Windows XP Reinstallation Guide to help you reinstall Windows XP. The hardware in that system is too weak for migration to a modern OS. The price of the OS is more than that hardwares worth. You can then try reattaching your old hard drive via the enclosure using Recuva.
Okay, these were both good, although now at age 60, I always cringe inwardly, when someone uses the term, "end-of-life" . . .
Let's see, in reverse order, I tried the Recuva and a variety of other recovery options already, but the main problem is that while the old drive is fully functional mechanically, it cannot be accessed practically, either through an external drive enclosure, or as the primary (bootable) drive through my existing laptop - since in both cases it lacks a partition which would allow the operating system to detect the drive. So, it would appear then (to the OS) that the drive is essentially brand new from the factory. Consequently, what it would seem that I need, is software that would lay down the needed basic drive partition structure, but do nothing else - since from there, nearly any file recovery software will be able to see ("read") the drive, and recover the handful of individual files that I'm really interested in.
And for the record, the use of the CDs for the data was actually just a fail safe, since I was reinstalling information on a newer (larger) hard drive, and I new (or at least I thought . . .) that I would be able to read all the information from the former (smaller) hard drive via the external drive enclosure, and just transfer it directly to the new drive. Those CDs proved to be a smart investment of time given my mishap, but yes - other data back-up/mirroring would have perhaps been preferable. But as you say, we're long past that being an option to consider.
The challenge mostly circles back to creating (or restoring) the old partition, but that's where my thinking takes me on this. Other suggestions?
If you really need the data back, contact a data recovery service - Dell uses Gillware, which is among the most reputable and least expensive (it will still be several hundred dollars at minimum, and while they'll guarantee you won't pay if they can't get your data back, they may not be able to recover the data at this point).
The more you do with the drive, the lower the chances of recovery - so if you really need the files back, set the drive aside and contact Gillware or another data recovery service.