Technological Comedy of Errors: Backup, Reformat, Lose Data, Restore

Published December 8, 2014

The other day I decided to reformat my computer. It had been acting funky and was in need of help. The first error occurred in backing up my files when I over wrote valuable files on a thumb drive. Instead of saving my files in a separate location, I over wrote the existing files on the thumb drive. That thumb drive had older files such as purchase receipts and tax files.

The second issue was my inability to use the Dell System recovery to restore the computer to factory settings. As such I used the Windows 7 installation I purchased a few years ago which caused a two-fold problem:

  1. It did not truly reformat the hard drive. Windows 7 saves all of the old files on the hard drive to a directory called Windows.old. Now I’ve got 44GB of old unnecessary files on my hard drive.

  2. The installation asked for an ID number that I didn't have (that I thought I had). As such, I can't register the software.

Since I over wrote the old purchase receipt files, I couldn't find my Windows 7 proof of purchase. More importantly, 5 years of receipts and tax files were gone. So task number one was to recover those files. This leads me to a whole series of adventures and errors!

Data Recovery Software

I combed the net looking for recovery software. I downloaded 3 trial programs and settled on EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard as it seemed to be able to find lost files.

An aside: On this journey I learned that although files are "deleted" they actually still reside on the computer. It's just that your ability to find them has changed. It's like driving to a location with and without GPS (or map for us old school folks). The first time you use the  GPS/map you're able to find the distant location. A year later you attempt to find the location without a GPS or map (your memory doesn't quite cut it). Although your destination still exists, your ability to find the right path to it is gone. Think of the data recovery programs as a map or GPS system.

One caveat: Although the files are still on the computer, they're not protected. In other words, they can easily be overwritten. So, if you accidentally deleted, removed or reformatted your computer, drive or device, you need to perform a data recovery as soon as practicable. To that end, I downloaded EaseUS to begin the process.

EaseUS Data Wizard

Installing and Using Data Recovery Software

It is recommended to install the software on a drive other than the one on which the lost files reside. In my case, I used a thumb drive. After installing the software, I ran a scan on my hard drive. It is not a speedy process.

When the software says 45 minutes to scan, double or triple the time. After "5 minutes" of scanning which took about 15 minutes, I decided to let it run while I went to grab a bite to eat. Upon return, I was disappointed to see my computer had entered sleep mode 5 minutes after I left. I still had 40 minutes left. A couple of hours later with only 15 scan minutes left; I decided to go to bed to allow the software to run during the night. Before I went to bed there was one more bonehead move for me to perform in my tired, bedraggled state.

Thumb DriveThe software recommends recovering the files to a drive other than the drive on which they were lost, so I found another thumb drive and swapped out one drive for another (palm to forehead move). It wasn't until I woke up early to check how things were progressing did I realize I removed the computer's access to the data recovery program by swapping out the thumb drive (the process was so long and drawn out I had forgotten the program wasn’t installed on the hard drive). I woke up to a frozen screen telling me the program was no longer responding and the only option I had was to close it down (extremely heavy sigh). Now I had to run the entire program again!

To add insult to injury, since I had just "reformatted" my computer, Windows was in the background installing its eleventy million updates. So as I was attempting to run the data recovery program my computer was choking. So much so that I had to take a look at the Task Manager to find that my CPU was running between 95 and 100%!

At this point, I aborted the operation and shut down the computer. With all 167 updates, it took about 45 minutes for the computer to shut down and restart in order for me to restart the recovery process. By the way, the recovery scan took a little over 5 hours!

Results of the Scan

As I looked through the over 2 million files identified by the software, I had to slowly go through and select the lost files I wanted to recover. After much picking, choosing and checking I selected the files to recover. I didn't mind the picking and choosing part of this ordeal because I was so thrilled at the thought of recovering the lost files.

I clicked the “Recover” button and my files were recovered, or so I thought. Apparently, the software decided all of my lost files were. PDF files to be read by Acrobat Reader. The only problem was they weren't. As I clicked on each file anxious to see that I have truly recovered the correct files, I was greeted with the following error message:

Adobe Error Message

Yes, that thunk you thought you heard was actually my heart sinking. I tried file after file and got the same response. I then decided to try .PDF repair utilities. I tried three of them and they all said the same thing, but in different words. In essence, they said the files were not .PDF files and showed error after error.

Trying it Again

Maybe I did something wrong so I decided to go back to the drawing board. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard has a feature whereby you can export the results of the scan and import them back into the software program later. This saves the agonizing time of having to run the scan again. Unfortunately, as I navigated to the exported scanned file to import it into the software I got the following message:

Failed to Import

Really?! Go through a 5-hour scan for files that I cannot open...again? I don’t think so. Instead, I wrote to the company explaining the situation and requesting a refund. After all, there is a 30-day money back guarantee. So far I haven’t heard anything from them, but they did send me a newsletter advertising another one of their software programs. Take my advice, if you need to recover lost files; don’t use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

30 Day Guarantee

BTW, if you go to the EaseUS website and read all 67 of the reviews giving the software a 4 or 5-star rating, just know that they did not publish my review which gave it a 1-star rating.  My question is, how many other one-star reviews never saw the light of day?


This post only represents the first act of this comedy, but alas, this post has grown rather long. I’ll share act two of the comedy of errors in another post.

Stay tuned.

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low-tech blogger.

Last Modified: 1 July 2023

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