Recovering a damaged ext3 system, where to start? Success!!!

Neil Woolford neil at
Fri Mar 11 14:30:55 UTC 2005

Thanks to all who replied to my original post about recovering my brother's 
damaged filesystem.

The Ubuntu Live Disc arrived with him yesterday, and we tried to boot his 
machine from it.

The first try, the machine didn't read the disc as bootable and went on as 
normal, the second time
it tried but stopped after 'booting from atapi cd' but before grub.  This 
was actually as useful clue,
suggesting a hardware problem either with the CD drive (dirty lens etc) or 
*crucially* with the drive
data cables.  These are of course common for the hard drive and CD on a 
normal PC system, so
could also be the cause of hard disc problems or corruption.

So he took the case off and gently unplugged things, contact cleaner 
sprayed them and put them
all back.

After that we booted first time into the Live CD.

/dev/hda1 was mountable, and his files in home could be read.  Encouraged 
by this, we unmounted
the drive, opened a root terminal (a first for my brother - I warned him we 
were working without a
safety-net and not to mistype at all) and fired up fsck with the -n option 
just to see.  All it reported
was a few orphan bits and pieces.  So we ran it for real, typed 'y' about 
twenty times and fsck then
said it had fixed everything.

Rebooted without the Live CD, into what currently appears to be an 
undamaged system with no loss
of data. :-) :-) :-)

Thanks very much for all the advice, which gave us the courage to try this out!


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