I upgraded from 12.10 to 14.04.1LTS via usb this past Saturday afternoon. Prior to doing the upgrade, I backed everything up to an external HD. At least, I thought I backed everything up... Turns out I missed the default downloads folder and I missed more current versions of a few files in a subdirectory of my home folder...

I made this unfortunate discovery when I first went to look at the downloads folder on Saturday evening and everything that was in downloads using 12.10 was gone using 14.04.1. I made the even more unpleasant discovery tonight that a spreadsheet I thought was copied during the backup to my external HD was missing more recent data that was saved to a version within my home directory using 12.10.

When I first installed 12.10 a while back, I split my internal HD 250Gb/250Gb for parallel use of 12.10 and win7. When I did the 14.04.1LTS install, I selected the first option to install Ubuntu alongside Win7 since in the description it said "all personal folders, docs, music, etc would be kept". I suspect I misinterpreted that to mean "all personal folders within the Ubuntu partition would be kept" instead of "all personal folders on the Win7 partition would be kept and all Ubuntu folders would be erased". I didn't make any changes to the 250Gb/250Gb split during the 14.04.1 install and both partitions are still there, both functioning correctly to the best of my knowledge.

I have restarted at least 2 times since the 14.04.1 install completed due to additional software installs I did after the 14.04.1 upgrade (and prior to me realizing I messed up on the backup). I haven't done a lot of other work since the upgrade, but I did copy my backup folder from my external HD back to my home folder.

So the questions are:

  1. Is there any hope for reverting back to my internal HD as of a particular time (Saturday am prior to the upgrade) so I can recover those files I missed during my backup?
  2. How do I pull that small miracle off? I see testdisk and photorec pop up in a lot of search results, and I have read though https://help.ubuntu.com/community/DataRecovery as well as a few others that come up during searches, but I'm not sure what is the best/most reliable/easiest way (I'm pretty new to open source, so I don't want to try things randomly only to make my situation worse.) I also don't know whether since 14.04.1 is now using the same partition that used to contain 12.10, if I can even recover that old data.

Fingers crossed...

  • You didn't misinterpret anything - it shouldn't have touched your folders provided they were under your home dir. Something strange happened here. – Rmano Dec 16 '14 at 6:52
  • It should not have thrown anything, and maybe it did not. If you for some reason changed you're download dir to a different location you might just be looking at the wrong dir. If you know the filename or part of it you could try to find it by the command: locate -i partoffilename If the data is really gone, are you sure you selected what you say? (Wrong question in gets wrong solutions out.) – Requist Dec 16 '14 at 19:09


Whether it was supposed to happen or not, it did; so I had to find a way to fix it. After lots of searching, waiting, and hoping for the best, I managed to recover my missing data!

Here's how it went down: I determined that I really only needed to recover 2 spreadsheets as those were the files that I used most frequently and most recently since the version that was saved on the external HD. This alone was a HUGE step forward, especially since I knew what the files were named. My downloads folder was much larger, but I convinced myself that I could handle living without it if I really had to.

For the next steps, I switched over and ran Win7 since I already had the dual boot set up.

I searched all over the place online and found lots of programs claiming to have the capability of recovering lost data/lost partitions/etc. I eventually settled on one called Linux Reader for Windows, provided free by Diskinternals. I was considering a few others, and they may work just as well, but Linux Reader is the one I actually used to recover my data.

I downloaded the program to my Win7 partition, followed the directions available online and in the program (pretty easy to figure out/self navigate). It searched the partition I told it to. The search took longer than I wanted it to, partly because I started the search late at night, partly because Win7 decided to do an automatic update/restart mid-search so I had to start the search over again the following morning, and partly because of the volume of data it was searching (70Gb +/-). If I had to guess, it was probably 8-10 hours on the actual search.

Search finished, and the program asked if I wanted it to try to recover the data it found. (DUH...) The recovery took about 2.5 days and saved everything to the Win7 partition. Seriously slow. But, what it turned up was pretty awesome.

I was very hesitant at first because I was afraid it was going to only find/recover data that I had already put back on the linux partition as I noted in my original post/question.

But, it found EVERYTHING. Literally- not only the most recent versions of the two spreadsheets that I really wanted to recover, but also a few versions prior to that.

The downloads folder is still up for debate as I'm not sure I want to spend the time to go through that much random disorganized data file by file.

The only gripe I have about the program (other than the speed, but that was a worthwhile trade off since it found everything I wanted it to) is that it doesn't maintain file names or file structures. Instead, it saves everything in folders by file type (.doc, .docx, .xls, etc), and in some cases, just converts it to a common format (.mp3 ended up as .wav). From there, within each folder it saves everything using numerical values, i.e. "0000000016.doc", instead of the original file name, i.e. "dick and jane.doc". Pretty annoying, but I got lucky that I knew what files I was looking for (spreadsheets), and had a rough idea of what the file size was based on the backup that I had made to the external HD. So I just had to sort by file size, then open every file until I found the right one.

This may not end up working for everyone, but it's how I managed to successfully work around my situation. If it helps someone else, even better.

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