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Solutions: Recover image files after reformatting drive

After a malware attack, we were advised to format the three hard drives and reinstall software on our computers. In doing so, we seemingly lost more than 700 photos from our 25th anniversary cruise. Then I discovered PC Tools and its software called File Recover. The program presented me with a screen full of the file names of all 736 images. But all I see is blank icons. Is there any hope of recovering those images?

Sorry that this happened to you. The first thing I would do is contact support people for File Recover and find out just what it did with the files in question. Since you just reloaded your PC, there may not be a default program assigned to that particular image type (such as .jpg, .bmp or .tiff).

You can try right-clicking one of these files and select Open, click "Select a program from a list of installed programs" and then OK. Scroll down and choose Microsoft Picture Viewer or browse to C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer and choose iexplore.exe.

If none of that works, it may be that parts of the files have been written over or had their format integrity altered. There are some recovery products that specialize in recovering graphic-type files. One of them is I have not used this product, but there's a trial download available that should allow you to recover the files — if it can — before you have to pay for it. And just for future reference, to reformat means everything is wiped clean, not just the operating system and programs. Always back up your personal data first.

I have Internet Explorer 8. I have repeatedly used the "Safety, Delete Browsing History" function of the browser to delete previously visited websites from my history. But there remains a persistent list of about 20 previously visited Web pages (the culprits are Craigslist and YouTube), which do not go away. These 20 entries continue to appear in the drop-down list at the top of the browser. I have even tried hitting the red X next to those entries.

Sounds as if some Internet Explorer add-on may be getting in the way. Try this: Close down Internet Explorer and then click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Internet Explorer (No Add-ons). Or just click Start, Run, type iexplore.exe -extoff and click OK. Now that you're in No Add-on mode, try deleting the history again. If successful, then it points to one of the add-ons being the culprit — most likely one of the popular toolbar add-ons. My advice: Get rid of it.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Recover image files after reformatting drive 11/21/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 21, 2010 3:30am]
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