Windows 7 Trying to recover files after over-aggressive reinstall


New Member
Jul 28, 2013
Background: I bought Windows 7 Home Edition disc but then upgraded online to Pro so I don't have a disc for Pro Edition. When I got an error message about hal.dll not working, and could neither restore to an earlier point nor get the OS to fix itself, someone in another Forum told me to download an ISO from DigitalRiver, make a Pro Edition boot disc, and fix the problem that way.

The boot disc was unable to get the OS to fix the .dll, and so, running out of time, I decided to use the Custom Installation option. I was expecting the installation to create a Windows.old folder but it didn't.
When I went back to that Forum to report that the boot disc had written over everything without apparently making any backups of any of my files, someone then provided a line of code I could have written in the Command Prompt which might have merely fixed the hal.dll.

Question: Did this installation really erase everything or is there a way to reverse the installation, restore the system to the earlier state? Knowing there's no Windows.old created, I'd next time install on a different hard drive so that I can rescue my files first.
Is there anything I can do to rescue those files or is it too late?



Noob Whisperer
Nov 30, 2009
N.W. Indiana
The short answer I'm afraid is... there gone.
Might you be able to recover some of those files by using a commercial data recovery software.... possibly, depending on where the files existed on the drive and how much has been written to the disc and where during the recovery.
A version of such a software that I have used in the past with some minor success is called Get Data Back by RunTime Software. It is a commercial pay for it product but I believe you can acquire a demo version which might give you some idea of what it can find.


Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
Mar 1, 2012
Helsinki, Finland, Europe
I must share Trouble's somewhat grim view. The main thing is, if you want to save something, NOT to write anything on the disk. The use of any recovery program with success would, in my opinion, require that you connect the disk to another computer, running the program from there. The best option would be, if the files are valuable, and you can afford the operation, to use the service of a company / people specialized in data recovery. But that will mean $$$.

Not trying to be smart but: always get a hard copy = CD = DVD of crucial programs.

I sure hope you get the best out of it all. I know a person, modder, who lost 4TB, years of work... not funny.
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