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Disclosure: I am knowledgeable about data recovery, I do data recovery for a living, I am part of a group of 20 or so data recovery professionals with who I share tips, knowledge etc..

Please keep in mind that I am asking this with best intentions: I see a (IMO) problem and I am interested in different views/ opinions and if possible solutions.

The monster: How do I recover lost/inaccessible data from my storage device?.

There is so much demonstrably wrong with this wiki. So much non data recovery related stuff there. So much borderline bad and potentially harmful advice. It hurts my eyes every time I read it.

Example of borderline dangerous advice:

"Depending on how important the data is, and if you are not able to read, I would try the freezer trick. This sounds like a joke but it really is not."

Yes, it IS a joke and should never be given as some generic advice.

Example of .. of what actually, what is answer even trying to explain?!

"If it is a controller board problem then, the only way to fix it is to re-flash the drive (check manufacturers website), or most commonly, switch the controller board (Carefully) from one that is an identical model."

IF it's a controller board issue is something that would need answer first. And no, the answer to a controller board problem is not "re-flashing the drive" if the goal is data recovery.

More what I consider to be nonsense and potentially dangerous advice:

"Try to repair (TestDisk). Prior to doing the actual recovery, you might sometimes have the need to repair the partition(s) and file system(s) first. This is where TestDisk comes into play, I would recommend to take a look at what it does."

An unwritten rule among every data recovery pro is that we do not write to the patient! Any half decent file recovery tool does not require in-place repairs. So the advice is what I'd consider plain wrong.

Example of non data recovery related issue:

"Click here if your flash drive is write-protected or read-only."

A device being read-only or write protected does not imply data loss. It may be inconvenient, but it is not a data recovery issue.

In fact these three have nothing to do with data recovery or at least aren't addressed as such:

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To me it seems as if up/down votes don't result in best possible answers. Yes, I downvote such answers but over time even the worst answers have accumulated so many upvotes that my downvote becomes irrelevant.

Yes, I know my opinions about these answers are just "my opinions". But even if we consider this fact, the wiki, even if it would be 100% accurate remains a wall of text that may or may not answer a specific question.

Also, since there's a wiki, as a side effect many data recovery related questions are simply closed and referred to the wiki. Even if such questions aren't best answered by the wiki or require a more nuanced answer. In the best case, then answer is actually hidden in the wiki and questioner is confronted with wall of text.

So, I am aware I somehow have to steer this post into an answerable question but TBH I don't know where to start. I guess my initial question best describes how I feel about the data recovery wiki: "What if a wiki grows into a monster?".

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  • 5
    The answers are all community wiki. Feel free to edit and add corrections if necessary.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Mar 14, 2023 at 15:31
  • 2
    Thank you! This is actually one thing I asked before and I was given the advice to add answers rather than editing existing ones. Mar 14, 2023 at 15:33
  • Hmm, the changes made were more signfiicant than appropriate for an edit. Lots of info was removed, lots of text added (including price "cut off" of $400, which really should be market-dependent and value-dependent and is largely an opinion). With so many changes, a separate answer would be appropraite. e.g., removing the "freezer" trick info (which solves the problem in some cases), adding software recommendations, removal of generalizing words, "fixing" spelling from British to American... just so many changes, I think your input deserves a separate answer space.
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 28, 2023 at 6:43
  • Regarding "freezer trick", I was taught in college: experience showed this does help some style of hard drives to start when they previously wouldn't start. Often that might cause the drive to only ever start that one more time, so one should be prepared to image it, but that's better than not being able to access the data at all (especially for non-budget scenarios where there may be no funds authorized to send to a lab, which might be likely when working with IDE or pre-IDE drives). If the advice is only applicable in certain scenarios and only wiath warnings, then help it, don't just delete
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 28, 2023 at 6:46
  • Tapping a drive with hammer may help in some cases too. But adding it as generic advice is outright dangerous. In fact data recovery labs apply heat cold in all sorts of situations, but in very specific situations and in a controlled manner. Just dropping that as generic comment is dangerous IMO. If you want to make such suggestions I'd argue those should be in a separate answer with warnings and detailed how-to steps. A drive not spinning has far more obvious potential causes but people may turn to freezer just because it's easier while ruining their chances. Mar 28, 2023 at 11:24
  • "I think your input deserves a separate answer space" - My concern with that is that an IMO low quality answer with higher score remains in that case. This is what I mean by 'monster'. Low quality (IMO) answers that gained upvotes over time push away better quality but younger answers. If it were up to me the entire wiki would be wiped and we'd start fresh. Mar 28, 2023 at 11:30
  • English is not my native language, feel free to correct errors. Mar 28, 2023 at 11:32
  • Software: R-Studio was already in there. I added ddrescue and hddsuperclone as suggestions for cloning. Both free and open-source and both recommended by data recovery specialists, data-medics.com/forum/threads/…, recoveryforce.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=245, forum.hddguru.com/…, hddoracle.com/… Mar 28, 2023 at 11:47

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