Any day you learn something new is a good day

PING 3.0 Saves the day

, posted: 29-Dec-2010 21:45

It’s the week before Christmas and my Dad calls and describes what can only be the resulting mess that a head crash causes.  A few phone calls ensue and he’s rebuilding his ageing desktop on a new drive & fresh install of XP. Minus some of his data.

The old drive won’t allow access via a USB adapter so it might be history, however Dad’s able to use a manufacturer supplied data recovery program to get most of his files back, except for his un-backed-up (of course) Outlook Express databases.  There’s eight years of mail in that. 

At this point some panic sets in as there are messages in that mail that are really important.

So Christmas arrives and I head home to visit the family and start the diagnosis of the failed drive & the recovered files.

I’ve always disliked Outlook Express, but never could really explain why.  Still can’t pin it down, but I have another reason to use anything but it – there are no re-index or un-corrupt utils provided by Microsoft for this pig of a program.  Anything that *might* work to recover mail from a corrupted .DBX file is a pay-for-it utility. Bah humbug.

So, several hours of Googling and lots of ‘try this and see if it works’ utilities later I’ve got a 1.1GB inbox.dbx that won’t show anything in it at all.  My Father had managed to recover his Outlook Express folder & files via the HD recovery utility, but inbox.dbx got corrupted along the way.

Today’s bright idea – let’s try and resurrect the dead hard drive.

Chkdsk won’t work – it tried but fails pitifully when it hits the dead sector in either $INDEX or $MFT.  So, if I can’t clean up the filesystem on the dead drive, maybe I can recover it on another drive…


This is where my current favourite software-of-the-day comes in, PING 3.0 by

Plugged the failed drive into a USB IDE adapter & booted the PING CD on my notebook. Told PING to take an image to a folder on my notebook’s HD and a couple of hours later it had created 31GB of image parts on my laptop. PING bleated about the NTFS mft being all messed up, but was able to force-open the drive & do a sector backup regardless.

One shutdown, swap a 320GB drive onto the USB IDE adapter and a boot back up on the PING CD and I was able to recover the messed up 40GB partition to the new drive.

At this stage on bringing XP back up on my notebook my C: got upset and needed to autorun a chkdsk (minor point of concern but turned out to be nothing), however once my laptop had booted back up OK I was able to run a chkdsk on the recovered partition on the USB drive and it worked.  LOTS and I mean LOTS of corruptions found, but the entire Outlook Express DB came back fine and imported into his newly rebuilt PC’s mail fine.

I’ve earned both the ‘Good Son’ badge and renewed my Geek Street Cred today.

Next task – teach Dad how to use NTBackup and USB drives.


Note: PING can also be used to upgrade to bigger hard drives - back up as normal from the boot CD, & restore to the new drive - if it's bigger PING will ask you if you wish to extend your NTFS partition and awya it goes.

PING can also back up a truecrypt encrypted drive.  It can't identify *ANYTHING* inside the drive, but it will back it up sector-by-sector and recover it completely, including the intact truecrypt boot sector & prompt for password.

Other related posts:
Extending the CEPH cluster, things we've learnt
Creating redundant, clustered & scalable storage - a DIY guide
Building A Win8.1 based Chromebook - A How To

Author's note by nzsouthernman, on 29-Dec-2010 21:53

Anothe note: no *bsd, *nix or Win7 that I had handy could read the failed drive either, in case anyone's wondering. Both of the file allocation tables were corrupt & out of sync. Everything spat the dummy.

Comment by trig42, on 30-Dec-2010 10:25

Nice, thanks for the tip on that piece of software. I have a disk in a similar situation to that one. Trying it now

Comment by Data Recovery Freak, on 31-Dec-2010 23:11

You are right!

Next task – teach Dad how to use NTBackup and USB drives.

Backups are much cheaper than any data recovery.

Comment by Pinso, on 21-Sep-2011 22:09

Hello i really want to make PING 3.00 into a Bootable USB, which requires syslinux 4.0 and their website is currently down for a really long time, i tried downloading an earlier version of syslinux and followed the method outline in the website.
This was no good, so can the author upload syslinux or make a tutorial for a Procedure to make a Bootable USB....

Author's note by nzsouthernman, on 22-Sep-2011 08:01

Hi @Pinso Here's links to a couple of really handy utilities; UniversalUSB will make a PING USB stick for you as long as you have the PING iso file handy. The stick will be dedicated to PING. YUMI is my current favourite - it will allow you to create a multiboot USB stick so you can have PING3 as an option, but also add other things to the same stick. I carry a YUMI created stick with PING, CloneZilla, GParted & Mint 10 all together with me at all times.

Comment by pinso, on 29-Sep-2011 23:30

hello nzsouthernman: thank you for your suggestion , although i had downloaded this program i didn't knew the full use of it until i read valid comments about it. Yeah YURI,is definitely good,could make a bootable PING by that and is a little more better than Clonezilla in compression. Although i too have Clonezilla and Ubuntu 4.10, and will continue using it. This has become my favorite program to try and test the software and beta testing........... Great Adice man... CHEERS

nzsouthernman's profile

New Zealand

This blog is mainly going to be for writing down things when I work them out so when I have to try and do it again I don't have to think too hard.  And also to comment on stuff.  Hopefully not too much rant /rant involved.

My latest finished and successful home project;

QNAS NAS/SAN Appliance
8x 750GB 2.5" SATA in R6 array, running PLEX and providing additional storage for MythTV

Toys in the attic;
iPhone 7+ (2D)
MythTV separated backend with 2 DVB-S encoders & 2TB disk space & two frontends

Follow me on twitter;