I have a bit of an issue with regards to my hard drives, and I wasn't sure where to post this. I'll begin with the backstory:
I ran Windows Vista Ultimate on my AMD 64 X2/Pc3200/Nforce 4 chipset system problematically for about 8 or 9 months. Then, I began to have boot issues: "Cannot find file \windows\whatever\winlogon.exe." I could, less often than not, boot to Vista without trouble. Windows Startup repair was useless, but I jumped to conclusions regarding the state of my corrupted Vista system files instead of taking note of the error message that Windows Startup Repair was reporting.
So I installed Vista OVER the old Vista, attempting the old trick whereby you replace all of the screwed up system files and keep everything else. Well, needless to say, this didn't solve the problem.
I ran Windows Startup Repair and got source of problem: partition table: partition table repair: error code = 0x490. So, I went and got Partition Table Doctor 3.5 from a friend. And, like a poor idiot who didn't have 150 GB to spare to backup everything, I ran the software with no errors. Then I rebooted.
The volumes the Doctor doctored were unreadable.
This is where you go "Oh shi-" because, previously you had an OS that SORTOF worked and now you have two hard disks whose volumes are no longer recognized as valid file systems.
I tried EasyRecovery, Partition Manager and Partition Magic boot disks, all of which failed to get past the error that the file system couldn't be read (like, what did they expect to happen if someone was trying to recover data from a corrupted hard drive?!)
It was suggested to me that Active@ Boot Disk NTFS Reader should work (from NTFS.com). And I mistakenly believed that the demo version actually had some functionality. After a 14 hour scan of my 250 GB disk, it seemed to have found all the files I wanted. But then it bugged out. I tried again, this time only partially, and it said I wasn't allowed to get my data.
I can't exactly 'afford' file-recovery software and services right now... So... Does anyone have a suggestion for how to recover files from a corrupted NTFS volume?
I'm getting desperate. Thanks, guys.