Four Tough Lessons of System Recovery

Last week, I received a brand new laptop with 1.5Gb RAM, a 100GB SATA HD, and a 15.4-inch wide screen, brightview display. It has basically all the technical gizmos that can spoil a new employee.

The computer came to me installed with Windows XP Pro. My game plan was to transfer my files via a USB disk to the NTFS partition and then transfer my second partition which is Debian Sarge (so-called) Unstable, and keep up with my regular business.

My weapon of choice, when I have to use Windows, is a VMware Workstation, configured to work with the real partitions--not the loop filesystem. This means that if I change anything, my files are still there when I boot Debian.

So, I started VMware as usual, configured it to use the physical hard disk, and began my operation.

I used a USB disk to transfer my old system. After that, I began to erase my old disk, which contained the NTFS system partition (C), an NTFS data partition (D), and the Debian partition.

While doing this I first erased my D and Debian partitions with fdisk and wrote the changes to the disk.

After I exited cfdisk, I caught a glimpse of hda1, which troubled me and left me staring at the empty black screen with the root cursor wondering what was wrong. The thing was, that device should have been sda, which was the mounted USB drive, not hda--the laptop's native disk.

I turned red. I had just wiped the partition that contained my backup data and the installation files of my laptop. Fortunately, my boot partition was still there, so I just had to collect my backup data (some 60GB) from different computers and copy them again, which looked like half a day or so of work.

My First Attempt

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