Posted by: Richard @ | September 4, 2008


I was sat at my study desk last night doing my usual thing….. “Oh, I better backup my docs, I’ve not done it in a while” (that’s in my head by the way and not me talking to myself!) –> USB HDD connected –> ‘Start’ – ‘Run’ – ‘SyncToy’ –>

‘Run’ –> “right, back to work” –> “time to explain EIGRP variance” (after a comment from another blogger requesting it – I thought it would be a useful exercise) –> ‘My Documents’…’EIGRP’ –> “WHERE’S IT GONE!”
The directory structure was fine but over the course of a couple of minutes I had lost an incredible number of files… ‘Favorites’ – 50% empty, ‘My Pictures’ – 90%, ‘Cisco Learning’ – 90% (where ALL of my notes, workbooks, dynamips labs, etc resided), ‘Articles’ – 100%, it looked like this:

Basically, what had happened is that due to the fact that I had been an idiot and thought “I might edit a file whilst it’s on the USB HDD” I had left the Microsoft SyncToy mode to synchronisation which means any moves, adds, deletes, and changes are synchronised between two folders – one folder was my login profile inc. ‘My Documents’, the other was a folder called ‘Synchronised’ on my USB HDD.  During the synchronisation my USB HDD had failed and for some stupid reason SyncToy has decided that means everything is empty…  EIGHT months work + a lot more gone in a matter of seconds!  How much of it have I managed to retrieve?  a few old versions of my notes up-to BGP from a .pst file that hadn’t been lost, but nothing else!  That means no QoS, Multicast, MPLS,  IPv6 etc etc – probably the areas I need to focus on most!  I have tried file restoration from my c: drive without any luck and the USB HDD now spins for a few seconds and then gives up.

Sometimes life throws challenges like this at you so I’m just going to have to get on with it, but what I have learned from this experience is that I need to go back to backing-up my backups J


  1. Man that blows… 😦
    Sorry to hear it man, but you are right, this is just another challenge that needs to be overcome, and Im sure you will overcome it as you have the right attitude.

    As an aside, have you considered using Google Docs to store your notes? Least that way you have access to your docs wherever you are that has an internet connection. Or at the very least you could use it as the “backup of the backup” While youd need to manually upload files to gdocs at least you know those files wont be disappearing due to sync issues.

  2. Thanks Roy,

    I’ll take a look at Google Docs – I’ve never used it before…

  3. ohh sorry to hear that richard ….

    iam sry for that ..


  4. Oh man! What a lost you had!

    That´s why I use Acronis True Backup Home… that doesn´t happen with it!

    But the Google Docs tip is really good, I use for some of my stuff, the most important one!

    Be cool, you´ll overcome that and everything will be better than before!

    Just let me know if I can do anything to help!

    Caue Wailemann

  5. man, get a Mac and enjoy Time Machine! 😉

    For my windows machine I use “robocopy” that’s part of the windows resource kit, command line only but works great.

    sorry for the file lost.

  6. Not much to say really is there ouch a very serious OUCH that is. Try look on the bright side when you re-create them you will really know the material well 🙂

  7. STOP = DONT USE THE PC = download recovery prog onto another one and use to undelete.
    it will probably be able to recover the deleted files form your _PC_ (not the usb hdd of course, if it failed hard) Using the PC more before you try to undelete may wroite over the still-there-but-marked-as-deleted files. Restoration is simple/free/works often.
    If i were you i’d use ghost/acronis/partimage boot CD to clone the C: drive 1st, just in case.

  8. Hi Gord,

    Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, the software didn’t find them – it’s like the tool permanently deletes (maybe it overwrites the sector numerous times?) – I just can’t figure out where on earth they have gone. I’m pretty sure they are still sat there on the USB HDD as well, but services to restore in that situation cost a fortune (and don’t come with any guarantees)

    Never mind, like Ferret999 said – I should know the material inside out….

    Thanks again,


  9. Everybody who is working on computer have to face this kind of problem someday 😦

    Several easy tips to avoid this pb in the future :
    – open a gmail adress and mail to this address your documents after editing them. You’ve 7go of space left which is always increasing, must be more than enough to store text documents and pictures for years.

    -never underestimate the value of a cdr/dvdr which are not erasable !! in using multi-sessions you can make your CD/DVD to last for a while, and whichever buggy applications you’re using, or whatever you do on your keyboard you won’t be able to erase it…

    -obviously you’ve a blog ;), maybe you’ve a website somewhere, you can put your documents on a private area on them too

    no perfect solution here, but a mix of all propositions people have done to you shoud do the trick

    see this experience to a luck to make your documents better 😉

  10. Richard,

    One word, BUMMER. Have you tried SanDisk Rescue Pro? It can recover deleted files from USB external HDD’s.

    Send me an email anyhow, we should catch up. Use the email address I used for this post.


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