Ok, so we all can see some strange karma is going on recently, and it seems to be a good time to sum up some quick tips and thoughts touching this topic.
I. Do not panic!
This is the most important advice. In 99 percent of times, your data are not lost when the computer crashes, they are oblivioned by your lame attempt to "recover" them. Then you realize that in fact everything was fine until you started your mission. Then you fail. It happened to me like a bazilion times. Always try to find out where the problem is before repairing it. Always take your time to plan your following steps. Never rush. Google for solutions, ask friends, ask professionals. If you do not have another computer or anyone to help you right now, then you should not try anything right now (unless you are two hundred percent sure what happened). After and only after you are sure what happened, cure the problem. To stress this even more:
II. Be aware of all the possibilities!
As stated above, there is a very poor chance your data are lost forever. In most cases, they are recoverable. Here are some typical scenarios and solutions:
Your game freezes: Just alt-tab out of it and copy your current chars .d2s file somewhere else. If the game screws up your savefile and is not able to load it next time, you have a backup. The ber on the ground that just dropped is lost forever, though. However, this has never happened to me, as D2 is relatively stable and such things are rare.
Your computer freezes: If it boots next time, it is fine. Not much harm done, even in long sessions, as D2 continuously updates your savefile time to time. If the savefile is jammed because of this and you use ATMA, look for .org files in your save directory. ATMA backs up files when they are opened.
Your system crashes: Here we are talking some serious business. First, most operating systems provide tools for repairing their filesystems. See "chckdsk" for Windows and "fsck" for linux based systems. Google them. Follow the tips you find. If this does not help, it may be an operating system related problem, not jammed filesystem, and for this case there are some ways how to browse your disk contents without booting the flawed OS in question.
- download any precompiled Linux distribution (i.e. Ubuntu), burn it on the CD and run it from there. You just need to put it into your CD drive and it will ask you if you want to install it or just run. Just run them, they don't require you to install them in order to function. They are known as "Live distributions" and you can find plenty of them on the Net. If nothing happens after putting them into drive and restarting, you may have to enter your BIOS Setup and change Boot sequence, so the CD-ROM is before HDD. These systems can safely access your hard drive and you can then back up your data (flash disc, as your CD-ROM is full).
- Move the HDD to another computer as a non system disc and access it from that computers operating system. Note, that even small laptop 2,5" HDDs can be plugged into 3,5" interfaces in desktop computers. All you need is cheap reduction. Read instruction first, though, as this reduction is not idiot-proof as most of todays HW and it can be plugged in the wrong way. I have fried one 2,5 disc myself.
- Reinstall the system. If the data are on separate partition, its solved. In Windows, even if your save folder is on the same partition as Windows, you dont have to format your disc. Windows will then simply overwrite their c:/windows folder and c:/Document and Settings/Yourname folder. If your save folder is in this folder, just use different username during install. The pain comes with branded computers and laptops, where you get an installation CDs which do not have any way how to skip formatting. You can either obtain pirated system for the purpose of "getting it work" and backing up your files, then reinstall your legal system, or use the tricks above. Believe me, the live distros solution is fastest, safest and completely legal.
Also note, that there are many utilities available which can recover data even from formatted HDDs, and you may be able to restore your stashes yourself. Stashes are generally small files and this fact greatly improves the chance they will stay untouched.
Hear Her Voice:
SpinRite on Wikipedia
III. Do not let it happen!
Back up. NOW!
Ok, I can wait ... back up your saves and stashes on some sort of flashdisc or just the cheapest TESCO Value CD you have lying around.
Now you are safe And it took just a 2 minutes or so. Four LK runs worth time. While you are at it, bring some more CDs along and backup your photos, IM sessions, other valuable stuff. When you are done, you may back up your job stuff .. well you know. Just because why not. Also, keep your system clean. There are several hundreds registry cleaners, adware removers, spyware trackers, windows tweakers and other types of utilities which can help you to keep your system healthy. Update. Patch. BACKUP. A planned, controlled full system reinstall (like once a year or when your computer gets sloppy) never hurts. Its just an hour or so when you learn the grip. Always accompanied by proper backup.
IV. And always remember ...
You are NOT your postcount. You are NOT your septsept. You are NOT your perfect ethereal grail. Its just a bunch of ones and zeroes. There are more serious and important things in your life. Like YOURSELF. Like your FRIENDS. When something like this happens to me, I always take a white crayon and draw something, and then, with satisfaction, have a look at the clear paper.
You see, in our country, white crayons are every year sold by blind people, to help them gather money for training their dogs.