Recover files from a broken ext3 partition

Lars Noschinski lars at
Mon Dec 16 08:18:29 UTC 2013

Hash: SHA1

[Please CC me on answers, I'm not subscribed]

Hi everyone,

I have got a hard disk which was damaged by a fall and would like to
recover a few files from that. (There is a backup for most of the
data, but a handful of recent files are missing. These are important
enough to spend some time on them, but not for paying a professional
data recovery service).

Using GNU ddrescue I was able to read 99.8% of the partition, so
there's hope the data is still there. Unfortunately, some key parts of
the file system seem to be damaged, so e2fsck fails:

- ------------------------------
% ddrescuelog -l- -b4096 sdd5.ddrescue.log > badblocks.sdd5.4096
% e2fsck -b 20480000 -v -f -L badblocks.sdd5.4096 sdd5
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Block 1 in the primary group descriptors is on the bad block list

If the block is really bad, the filesystem can not be fixed.
You can remove this block from the bad block list and hope
that the block is really OK.  But there are no guarantees.
- ------------------------------
[at 20480000 there seems to be an intact superblock; got the number
(and the block size) from 'mke2fs -n']

The files I am interested in are located under /home/$USER/Desktop and
/home/$USER/Dokumente; so I tried accessing them with debugfs.
Unfortunately, /home/$USER seems to be corrupted:

- ------------------------------
% LESS=FSRX debugfs -s 20480000 -b 4096 sdd5
debugfs 1.42.8 (20-Jun-2013)
debugfs:  cd /home/$USER
debugfs:  ls

EXT2 directory corrupted
- ------------------------------

So, any hints for me how to proceed? Is there a way to access the
Desktop and Dokumente subdirectories (provided they are themselves

Also, I interrupted ddrescue for my access attempt (because it takes
really long to get all the still-good sectors from a 200GB partition).
Can debugfs show me where on the disk /home/$USER is located? This
would allow me to instruct ddrescue to concentrate on these parts.

  Best regards, Lars
Version: GnuPG v1.4.15 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Icedove -


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