Fix/repair MFT in NTFS drive

Problem

I could no longer access the portable driver after a reboot. Driver letter was displayed correctly. But the disk needed to be formatted for use. My first impression is that I lost my partition table corrupted.

Finding solution

Corrupted MFT (Master File Table) was the problem I found when I run chkdsk /f g:
I tried

  • ntfsfix (in linux)
  • TestDisk fix MFT (which use MFTmirr, backup of MFT)

to repair MFT, but all in vain. TestDisk wiki advised to try commercial.

Salvage

Obviously, MFT is beyond repair. So the situation was should I try to salvage data.
The disk contains all the data I have collected for almost 5 years. Some are invaluable personally. So the answer is Go for salvage as much as I can.

Selecting Commercial

There are a lot of commerical recovery out there (after visiting a lot of forum)

I had some good result with GetDataBack NTFS in the past and I tried with it.

Further problem

GetDataBack can successfully display almost all the data but with some problems or issues

  • NTFS took 8 hours to scan my 500GB (during the scan integer overflow errors happened)
  • building index and extracting MFT took another 10 mins
  • some folders are located under different folder
  • some folder contains more than 800GB of data (my HDD is only 500GB)

Last problem

My tib file is 88GB and it took a lot of time (10% = 8 GB took 4 hours). The problem was made worse by

  • portable HDD (USB 2.0 transfer rate)
  • 6 hours electricity black out every 18 hours (my inverter could only cover 3 hours)
  • not enough space in computer recovering the portable HDD
  • no more external HDD for recovery

Now the file is the only one to be salvaged.

Retrospective Diagnosis

Before the reboot, I mounted the Acronis TrueImage backup (*.tib) file which is on my portable HDD and rebooted the computer.

On receovery with GetDataBack NTFS, I found

  • System folder of the partition in tib file
  • it is confirmed by the old user name under the Users folder

So it is assumed that, system wrote MFT (which is supported to write to tib file) to actual HDD (my portable HDD)