Tag Archives: recovery

Bad CD or DVD? Recover the Data with Free CD Recovery Toolbox

image How many coasters do you have that started life as critical backup CD/DVD’s, or the CD/DVD’s that you entrusted to store a lifetime of photo memories? Well if you’re like most of us, you may have more than one.

As a long term file storage medium, CD/DVD’s are, in effect, all-purpose, durable and, generally inexpensive. The difficulty in relying on this storage medium however is; they aren’t always as reliable as we sometimes seem to think. Hint: Check your backups from time to time, to ensure they can still be read.

Recently, I experienced CD failure when testing a system using a special boot CD called, “The Ultimate Boot CD”, which ironically failed to boot despite the decisiveness of its name.

There I was stuck with an unreadable CD; but being the “geeky” kind of guy that I am, and having been through similar situations in the past, I’ve learned to double up on all my diagnostic tools. Later, I confirmed that the unreadable CD had not been burned correctly – the deadly “bad burn”. So you’re not alone in turning what you may consider to be, unusable/unreadable CD/DVD’s into expensive coasters.

But there is a solution that can help you to recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable. Stepping into the picture is CD Recovery Toolbox (last updated May 12, 2010), a free CD/DVD file recovery tool.

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This small, free application was designed to recover damaged files on CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray disks. It can recover files that have been lost as a result of physical damage to the disk, (scratches, chips, and so on), or as a result of a bad or, inaccurate recording.

The program scans damaged CD and DVD disks and produces a listing of files and folders on the media, which it can recover. Be aware however, that depending on the degree of damage, there may be files that the application cannot recover.

cdrecovery_page03normal

In testing this product’s file recovery ability on a severely scratched and chipped disk, I’m happy to say, that it recovered 934 files out of a total of 936, that Windows could not read, and it did this in less than 2 minutes

Data recovery is generally a complex process, but even beginners will have an easy time with this application based on it’s step-by step wizard, which makes the use of the tool very simple and convenient.

Quick facts:

Recovers files/folders from CD and DVD’s

Recovers files larger than 4 GB

Detects lack of free space on the designated storage hard drive

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, CD/DVD Tools, downloads, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Another Day in the Trenches: Killing XP Antivirus 2010

Popular guest writer Mark Schneider, walks you through a computer recovery operation, following an infection by a rogue security program, XP Antivirus.

I hate rogue antivirus programs. They seem to be getting more numerous and harder to get rid of all the time. Case in point: At work, I noticed a shared computer suddenly popped up a Window announcing it was doing a scan, and that I was infected with over 4,000 Trojans and other forms of malware.

Nice try I thought, so I used Control Alt Delete to start task manager, and I closed Internet Explorer and all running processes involved. Fortunately, it was a limited user account that was infected, and that turned out to be a important factor in removing it.

I immediately ran Malwarebytes from that user and found a number of infections including the rogue antivirus product I was afflicted with. These cretins that come up with this crap can’t even come up with something creative – we’ve seen XP Antivirus for a few years now; each year they just tack on a year to make it look current.

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Sad thing is, I’m sure somewhere out there is someone who renews this crap every year. Imagine paying yearly to be infected – oh right, we already do that it’s called McAfee, but don’t get me started.

Well back to the task at hand: I rebooted the machine and logged into an administrator account, updated Malwarebytes and ran it again… and found more junk, actually the same junk. Malwarebytes found it, but could not kill it.

Next, I downloaded Superantispyware, a great application that I always run at home but it wasn’t on the work machine. The first thing I do now after I download a anti-malware application is rename the installer. I do this because I often find the malware knows how to prevent anti-malware from installing – these guys aren’t creative, but they’re getting smarter.

To rename a file, right click on the file and select rename and type anything.exe and install the program. Superantispyware did its thing and found a ton of additional files. I removed the infected files and rebooted again, and ran both my programs again. I still found junk!

I repeated the sequence two more times until nothing was found. I then ran a scan in all user accounts to confirm “the kill”. So far so good, until I went into the user account where the infection had started, now whenever I tried to launch any program from the desktop I’d get the “Choose what Program you want to use to Open this File” message. This means I had to fix file associations and a great site with XP file association fixes is here. I used the .exe file association fix and it worked great.

The last thing I did was to run Process Explorer, and Autoruns from Syinternals. These utilities give a great in-depth look at what is currently running and starting on your machine at boot-up. Finding nothing suspicious I deemed the computer clean, for now.

So a few lessons I learned on this one: Don’t use IE – this was caused by a flaw in Internet Explorer I believed it was just fixed this week. Second, running as a limited user is still far safer than running as an administrator, even though its trivial to elevate to administrator level, most malware seldom does, and this makes cleaning an infected PC much easier.

Next, running your cleanup tools multiple times and rebooting after each scan is the only way to give the anti-malware tools a chance against the bad guys.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Guest Writers, Internet Security Alerts, Manual Malware Removal, Rogue Software Removal Tips, Scareware Removal Tips, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Trinity Rescue Kit – Recovery From a Windows Calamity

Popular guest writer Mark Schneider, walks you through a computer recovery operation using the Trinity Rescue Kit, which, as he puts it, “saved my bacon”.

image Today, I was doing a little maintenance on my daughters Gateway laptop, uninstalling one anti-spyware program, and upgrading another to real-time protection. It seemed to go fine – I ran the Uninstall from Programs and Features in Vista, and enabled the full time protection in Malwarebytes, with the registration codes and rebooted.

When the computer shut down, I noticed it installing several updates. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when the machine restarted, the brown stuff hit the fan. I didn’t have any mouse! Even the Track pad was totally unresponsive. So, I plugged in a old USB trackball mouse, success!

I then clicked on the admin account I keep on the machine and went to type my password – nope, the keyboard didn’t work either. So I rebooted after plugging in my USB keyboard. Windows went through its usual routine and told me the keyboard had installed and was ready to use, except, it wasn’t. It wouldn’t work at all.

Basically, I was hosed! I couldn’t run the device manager from the limited account, or do a system restore. I had to get into the admin account, or I was stuck.

So I did what any red-blooded geek would do, I Googled “resetting a password in Vista”. I came up with usual Microsoft solution, you know the one where you use the password reset CD you made when you set up the computer, yep that one, the one no one ever makes!

Fortunately for me, I also found a reference to TRK or the Trinity Rescue Kit. TRK is a Linux based bootable CD, that can be used for resetting passwords, recovering files and a few other things relating to Windows calamities.

Publisher’s description: Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues.

Once the CD booted normally, I typed in “winkey u admin” – this started TRK searching, and mounting all the files in the system. I choose “Enter” in the next dialog, and then typed an “*” confirmed this with a “y”, and this created a new administrator account with no password.

I was able to log into the Administrator account and then began the next phase of fixing the corrupted drivers. This took a little longer than I anticipated. I tried deleting the Track pad and keyboard in Device Manager , both had the little caution signs next to them indicating a damaged or corrupted driver; rebooted but this didn’t work.

I finally resolved the problem by using a restore point. Fortunately, you can get there with just a few clicks of the mouse. So I got lucky; the USB mouse worked, and the TRK worked after some trial and error.

Get the Trinity Rescue Kit here. I recommend it for your toolkit, it definitely saved my bacon.

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Fast facts:

TRK is a complete command line based distribution, apart from a few tools like qtparted, links, partition image and midnight commander.

Here ‘s a sum up of some of the most important features, new and old:

Full read/write and rpm support (since build 333)

Easily reset windows passwords (backup and restore option in 3.3)

Four different virus scan products integrated in a single uniform command line with online update capability (5 in version 3.3)

Full ntfs write support thanks to ntfs-3g (all other drivers included as well)

Clone NTFS file systems over the network

Wide range of hardware support (kernel 2.6.39.3 and recent kudzu hwdata)

Easy script to find all local file systems

Self update capability to include and update all virus scanners

Full proxy server support

Run a samba fileserver (windows like file sharing)

Run an ssh server

Recovery and un-deletion of files with utilities and procedures

Recovery of lost partitions

Evacuation of dying disks

UTF-8 international character support

Powerful multicast disk cloning utility for any file system

Two rootkit detection utilities (version 3.3)

Elaborate documentation

It is possible to boot TRK in three different ways:

As a bootable CD which you can burn yourself from a downloadable iso file.

From a USB stick/disk (optionally also a fixed disk), installable from Windows or from the bootable TRK CD.

From network over PXE, which requires some modifications on your local network (version 3.2). Version 3.3 has the ability to act as a network boot server itself, without any modifications to your local network.

Although version 3.3 is still beta, it is recommended that you download this version, as most features which were included in version 3.2 are still running just fine (and are more up-to-date) and the new stuff is presumed to be running fine too.

Download at: Developer’s site.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, CD/DVD Tools, computer repair, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Prey – A Free Recovery Solution to a Lost or Stolen Laptop

image I’ve been planning for some time on writing an update on lost or stolen Laptops, the costs involved, and the consequences that often follow.

Following last night’s news story on “Laptops containing sensitive records belonging to thousands of Ontario teachers have been stolen”, on my local (Toronto) CBC News – now seems like the perfect time. So, let me mount my soapbox for just a moment.

What I found particularly offensive in this news story:

The Laptops were stolen December 3, 2009, and yet it took until January 27, 2010 to notify the affected parties. This, despite the fact, that stolen information of this type can be used to obtain false passports and fake credit cards, or for re-mortgaging a victim’s home.

As is often the case in this type of situation, the data on the Laptops was not encrypted.

Officials involved in this debacle were quoted as saying “but the computers were password-protected”. Officials, who obviously have no understanding, that readily available and legal, free software, can be downloaded from the Internet that can break, or reset passwords, in minutes.

This type of occurrence begs the question: is this just a “one off” or, is this type of occurrence a continuing problem?

If we are to be guided by recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, which indicate that more than 10,000 laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports alone, coupled with statistics which indicate that a laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds,  it would be hard to dismiss this as an isolated occurrence.

Reportedly, 65% of lost or stolen laptops are not reclaimed, despite the fact that half the laptops contain confidential corporate information, which, in most cases, is not encrypted.

One would assume, that encrypting sensitive data on enterprise or government laptops, or portable media, would be SOP. Instead, it seems that when we read news stories about a lost or stolen laptop, the pattern seems to be as follows; – “200,000 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on an unencrypted laptop stolen/lost earlier this week”.

There are substantial hard costs incurred in the loss or thief of a Laptop, and again, statistics available from the Ponemon Institute “Cost of a Lost Laptop”, indicate that these hard costs can approach $50,000 per occurrence, for enterprise.

It’s not only business or government that should be concerned with the loss, or theft, of a Laptops – it’s every bit as likely to happen to individual Laptop owners.

If you are a Laptop owner, you should consider what can you do now, to increase the probability that should your laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you.

One solution is offered by Prey, an open source application, that can enhance recovery chances. Stolen laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board, the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

Prey  web service

According to the developer:

Prey helps you locate your missing laptop by sending timed reports with a bunch of information of its whereabouts. This includes the general status of the computer, a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and – in case your laptop has an integrated webcam – a picture of the thief.

Prey uses a remote activation system which means the program sits silently in your computer until you actually want it to run. If so, it gathers all the information and sends it to your Prey web control panel or directly to your mailbox. The thief will never know his movements are being watched.

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There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost Laptop, will be recovered – but it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood. Prey, may be just the solution you’ve been looking for.

Fast facts:

Wifi autoconnect – Prey checks if there’s an active internet connection to send the information.

Geo-location aware – Prey uses wifi hotspots to locate devices geographically. This not only includes lat/lng coordinates, but also an altitude indicator.

Lightweight – Prey is written in bash which means it has virtually no dependencies, only what it different modules need to work. This also means Prey is portable and should run in just about any computer.

Modular architecture – You can add, remove and configure the different parts of Prey as you wish. Prey is composed by modules, each one performing a specific task.

Powerful report system – Get the list of current running programs, the recently modified files, active connections, running uptime, take a screenshot of the running desktop or even a picture of the guy who’s using the computer.

Messaging/alert system – You can alert the thief  he’s being chased at by sending messages which will appear on screen. You can also trigger alarms to make the message clear not only to him but also to whomever is nearby.

Module auto-installer – You don’t have to reinstall Prey to keep up with the latest and greatest modules. We keep a repository from where Prey will fetch what it needs to get the job done.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP & Vista, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux – other distributions.

Download at: The Prey Project

For a review and download links to free encryption software please read “Lose Your USB Stick and You Lose it All – Encrypt Now with Free Software!” on this site.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Free Laptop Tracking Software, Freeware, Laptop recovery, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Prey – A Free Stolen Laptop Recovery Solution

clip_image001You’ll never lose your Laptop computer, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen, right? Of course you do. But does loss, or theft, of laptops happen? You bet.

Recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, indicate that more than 10,000 laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports. Are you as surprised as I am?

Not surprised? Well, how about this astonishing statistic from the same survey: 65% of those lost or stolen laptops are not reclaimed, despite the fact that half the laptops contain confidential corporate information.

One can only hope that the data on these laptops was encrypted, although it seems when we read news stories about a lost or stolen laptop, the pattern seems to be as follows; – 200,000 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on an unencrypted laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.

Other available statistics indicate that a laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds and 97% of stolen laptop computers are never recovered.

So what can you do to increase the probability that should your laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you?

One solution is offered by Prey, an open source application, that can enhance recovery chances significantly.

Prey web service

According to the developer:

Prey helps you locate your missing laptop by sending timed reports with a bunch of information of its whereabouts. This includes the general status of the computer, a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and – in case your laptop has an integrated webcam – a picture of the thief.

Prey uses a remote activation system which means the program sits silently in your computer until you actually want it to run. If so, it gathers all the information and sends it to your Prey web control panel or directly to your mailbox. The thief will never know his movements are being watched.

Stolen laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost laptop, will be recovered – but it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood. Prey, may be just the solution you’ve been looking for.

Fast facts:

Wifi autoconnect – Prey checks if there’s an active internet connection to send the information.

Geo-location aware – Prey uses wifi hotspots to locate devices geographically. This not only includes lat/lng coordinates, but also an altitude indicator.

Lightweight – Prey is written in bash which means it has virtually no dependencies, only what it different modules need to work. This also means Prey is portable and should run in just about any computer.

Modular architecture – You can add, remove and configure the different parts of Prey as you wish. Prey is composed by modules, each one performing a specific task.

Powerful report system – Get the list of current running programs, the recently modified files, active connections, running uptime, take a screenshot of the running desktop or even a picture of the guy who’s using the computer.

Messaging/alert system – You can alert the thief  he’s being chased at by sending messages which will appear on screen. You can also trigger alarms to make the message clear not only to him but also to whomever is nearby.

Module auto-installer – You don’t have to reinstall Prey to keep up with the latest and greatest modules. We keep a repository from where Prey will fetch what it needs to get the job done.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP & Vista, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux -other distributions

Download at: The Prey Project

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Laptop recovery, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

CD Recovery Toolbox – Recover Damaged CD/DVD Data

CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery solution that can help you recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable.

damaged_cd So how many coasters do you have that started life as critical backup CD/DVD’s, or the CD/DVD’s that you entrusted to store a lifetime of photo memories? Well if you’re like most of us, you may have more than one.

As a long term file storage medium, CD/DVD’s are, in effect, all-purpose, durable and, generally inexpensive. The difficulty in relying on this storage medium however is; they aren’t always as reliable as we sometimes seem to think.

Recently, I experienced CD failure when testing a system using a special boot CD called, “The Ultimate Boot CD”, which ironically failed to boot despite the decisiveness of its name.

There I was stuck with an unreadable CD; but being the “geeky” kind of guy that I am, and having been through similar situations in the past, I’ve learned to double up on all my diagnostic tools. Later, I confirmed that the unreadable CD had not been burned correctly – the deadly “bad burn”.

So you’re not alone in turning what you may consider to be, unusable/unreadable CD/DVD’s into expensive coasters. But there is a solution that can help you to recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable. Stepping into the picture is CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery tool.

cdrecovery_page03normal

This small, free application was designed to recover damaged files on CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray disks. It can recover files that have been lost as a result of physical damage to the disk, (scratches, chips, and so on), or as a result of a bad or inaccurate recording.

The program scans damaged CD and DVD disks and produces a listing of files and folders on the media, which it can recover. Be aware however, that depending on the degree of damage, there may be files that the application cannot recover.

In testing this product’s file recovery ability on a severely scratched and chipped disk, I’m happy to say that it recovered 934 files out of a total of 936, that Windows could not read, and it did this in less than 2 minutes

Data recovery is generally a complex process, but even beginners will have an easy time with this application based on it’s step-by step wizard, which makes the use of the tool very simple and convenient.

Quick facts:

Recovers files/folders from CD and DVD’s

Recovers files larger than 4 GB

Detects lack of free space on the designated storage hard drive

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2K/XP/2K3/Vista

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, CD/DVD Tools, Free File Recovery Applications, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools