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Recovering Data from a GoBack Disk

By steve - Posted on 26 April 2005

A friend's system died and he wanted to recover what he could from the hard drive. I installed a new drive and XP, but couldn't get XP to assign a drive letter to the old drive. It turns out that GoBack was installed and that makes the drive unreadable by any normal OS including Linux, DOS, XP, etc. Here's how I recovered the data.

  1. I installed XP on a new 80gb drive (with a few problems; the cards needed to be reseated, memory needed to be reseated, dust removed, etc.).
  2. Attempting to access the drive failed. The system reported the drive as "drive 1", but I couldn't assign a drive letter to the old drive. Googling was mostly fruitless and many of the suggestions on the boards were just plain wrong (for instance, MSCE's telling people that the option to assign a drive letter to the drive in drive management cannot be grayed out).
  3. I was able to determine that there must be some kind of DDO (disk overlay) software running, but none of the usual suspects were indicated. The drive is a Maxtor and MaxBlast could see the drive, but it couldn't do anything with it (other than delete the partition and reformat it, something I was trying to avoid).
  4. Along the way, I tried to use MaxBlast 4 to see if I that was the DDO in use. The ISO CD version would not boot because the DVD in the system was not recognized. I had to pop in a tempoary CD drive so that the thing would actually boot up on CD. Apparently MaxBlast doesn't like DVD drives (at least the one in this system). After I popped in the CD drive and disconnected the DVD, it would boot up, but since the problem was GoBack, not MaxBlast, it didn't help. Incidentally, MaxBlast is based on OnTrack's software.
  5. I finally determined that GoBack was running when I tried booting from the old drive and the GoBack splash screen showed up. GoBack is a system-recovery kind of program that lets a user "go back" to a previous system restore point. It apparently acts like a DDO, changing the boot process and MBR, but you can't see the drive without it installed. But since the drive was damaged, GoBack didn't work. Whatever I tried using the GoBack boot menu failed. I couldn't disable Goback or boot to a diskette with goback drivers. No matter which option I took, Goback would crash and I'd get an error: gb_ui_support(1147). Googling that wasn't helpful, but similar error messages indicated a hardware failure (duh!).
  6. After much goofing around with the drive, while attempting to "do no harm", I found a downloadable trial edition of the old version 3.0 of GoBack at Grace Computers of New Zeeland.
  7. I installed this 10 day trial version, rebooted, and was able to see everything on the old drive!
  8. I copied the old drive information to the new drive using xcopy (using the gui to copy didn't work as it stopped on any error or problem) copying to a folder named "c:\old drive 1" on the new drive.
  9. I repeated this for the other drive in the system.
  10. Now that the data was safe, I could uninstall the goback trial and format the old drive.
  11. Having recovered everything I could, I then did a system backup to a networked drive using NTBACKUP.

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