Here was my situation about six weeks ago: my main PC/Workstation was in the middle of an upgrade, while I was downloading a huge back-up file from my server. It was going well, until my upgrade software needed to restart the machine. As soon as it shut-off, that was when the whole system crashed, leaving numerous unfinished files either deleted, or unconfigured. When I started the system back up, a total loss form the boot-loader had occurred, leaving the system as a brick. No matter what I tried, I could not get it to start up again. Nothing worked – period!
My next phase was to try and recover all the information on my hard drives. I like my data secured, and kept safe, so naturally everything on my systems are encrypted–heavily. The glorious task of prying open my data turned quickly into a nightmare. Just when I thought it was going to a snap to recover my data, the ugly truth reared its head when my recovery software flashed the text in the header that it would take “62” to “85” hours to copy and recover my data, then another untold amount of time to decrypt it all. When you are dealing with 2 x 4TB drives, that is a lot of data to copy over.
I was mortified. Me being the Linux guy and everything, with my vast knowledge of computers, and software, I was now sitting on the other side of the fence, helpless and frustrated at the task before me. My research yielded little, as the on-line community was just as much in the dark as I was on this matter, especially with the Ubuntu pass phrase and hard drive encryption precess for recovery topic. I thought, type in your pass words, and the rest took care of itself. WRONG! Not so simple.
Even with my pass words, and pass-phrase alphanumeric code, I could not get the software recovery to work. It stumped me. I started asking myself questions like, did I record my pass phrase wrong, or was there something else I missed when I originally installed the OS? To this day I do not know.
I got thinking–what happened when my system crashed? The boot-loader was still intact, and I could see that the check-sum for my drives was an exact match. So this lead me down a different path, one that made me believe that maybe this was not a “corruption” of data issue, but of missing files that got wiped during the upgrade. My first clue was not being able to see any graphics right after the initial boot-up. But I went ahead and started copying my data first–just in case I screwed everything up.
In the mean time, I set-up an older PC Tower, with a bare-bones OS, Ubuntu 14.04, just to get me by while I finished recovering my data on my main PC. Starting from scratch was horrendous: no email address, loss of work files, no contact names, and using webmail–it all sucked.
My first test, confirming my hunch about a broken graphics’s driver file. I confirmed that I did indeed had an issue with my graphics card’s driver file; it was completely missing. This meant that I had to purchase a new card and see if my OS would kick in and recognise it, thinking that this was an upgrade. The risk, further damage to my data.
My second test was buying a graphics card that would work. I originally had an ATI card in it during the crash, so I thought that buying another ATI card would do the trick. Nope. I realized that it had to be another make and model. So I bought an Nvidia card. IT WORKED!
Within seconds after the boot-up, my machine’s OS was hunting down the latest drivers for the new graphics card! As it spewed out glorious graphics of my log-in page across my monitor, in the background, it was digging up the files it needed to completed the job of the upgrade. I was ecstatic; I gave out a yell of gratitude that must of reverberated across the forest outside. Everything was now back to normal; my precious data, my machine, and my sanity, all recovered and put back to where it was once before.