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Is it possible to recover data from reformatted external hard drive


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#1 scooterpd

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 11:56 AM

Scenario: My cousin just bought an HP MINI 1030NR from good 'ol Best Buy. He wanted to put a flavor of linux on there (dreamlinux to be exact, http://www.dreamlinux.com.br/index.html). He downloaded the iso file from the website and planned on installing it onto his ntfs-formatted external hard drive (80gb).

The problem is that he accidentally installed the distro on the entire hard drive, as opposed to a separate partition. As a result, he has lost all of his data, images, videos, docs, etc (about 32GB). Is there any way that he can recover this information off of his external hdd? I am pretty sure that linux reformats the hdd to ext3 or something similar, so i don't know if there is any hope because usually reformating completely wipes the hard drive if I'm not mistaken.

NOTE: Now when he plugs in his external hard drive, it shows up as a cd-rom image (see attached image). I have tried the recovery program Recuva, but it only seems to recognize hdd's and won't let me scan the "CD-ROM."

I am using teamviewer to check out his pc at the moment, in case any of you experts need more info about the pc. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Please let me know if you need any more pertinent information.

EDIT: I have attached another image from his pc's Disk Management utility. It shows DISK 1 as being the actual hard drive with almost the full hdd available, AND it shows the cd-rom as something separate.

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Edited by scooterpd, 10 December 2008 - 01:30 PM.


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#2 Box In A Bag

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:08 PM

He most likely can....BUT... itll cost ALOT of money. The hard drive will most likely have to be shipped to a professional with a dust free environment where he will open the drive and pull info from it.

If it is reformatted the information is most likely written over and gone, but ya never know, if he has about 800-1500 to dump on a hard drive, go for it, but I would just assume it is gone.
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#3 scooterpd

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:35 PM

He most likely can....BUT... itll cost ALOT of money.

Thanks Box In A Bag. I am still looking for something a little more FREE than that, if possible. I have tried recovery programs like Recuva and Recovery Fix for Windows, but to no avail.

Edited by scooterpd, 10 December 2008 - 01:43 PM.


#4 Box In A Bag

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:38 PM

Yeh I really can't think of a way to get the data, if it has been formatted than your most likely not gonna get the info, but I dont know, there may be something else that can help.
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#5 tswsl1989

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:45 PM

You might want to try PhotoRec (Testdisk)
It tries to match for specific file types based on headers. You won't recover anything thats been overwritten, but it is available free.
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#6 scooterpd

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 02:58 PM

You might want to try PhotoRec (Testdisk)

Thank you for the suggestion. I am in the process of trying Testdisk, but it isn't looking good.

If you look at the image i posted of the Disk Management screen, the very first volume listed has no drive letter or file system associated with it. I don't know if that means that the disk in unallocated/unformatted or what? The only other thing i can think of is that maybe the installer set up the dreamlinux iso and then took the remaining 74GB's of space and made it unallocated/unformatted. Now i am wondering if going from ntfs to unformatted completely wipes the drive or if it just marks that space as useable, similar to sending a file to the recycle bin versus actually deleting the file completely? Any ideas?

#7 hamluis

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 03:16 PM

Disk 1 is not the first volume, Disk 0 is the first volume...I see that you were looking at the upper section, but I believe the lower section provides more useful info more readily.

In any case, a hard drive/partition reflected in the manner as Disk1 is...should mean that XP cannot recognize any partition/drive structure which it normally can read. Bear in mind that XP cannot/does not necessarily recognize every partition structure available.

I would interpret it as saying that there is an unformatted hard drive attached at Disk1.

The fact that it's an active partition...would seem to indicate that it has been bootable or has been prepped to be bootable. I would run data recovery software on that partition.

IMO, anyone who wants to attempt recovery of data...and who considers said data valuable...needs to get over the fact that many programs which work are not free. If the data is not worth spending $50 on a program to attempt recovery...let it go.

Those of us who have had success with any paid program...are probably loath to recommend such to users who don't seem to understand the difference between "try" and "succeed." One does not equate to the other.

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#8 scooterpd

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 04:22 PM

IMO, anyone who wants to attempt recovery of data...and who considers said data valuable...needs to get over the fact that many programs which work are not free. If the data is not worth spending $50 on a program to attempt recovery...let it go.

$50 is a much more affordable option than $800-1500. That is probably as close to FREE as one can get for data recovery. Thank you for the info you provided.

Edited by scooterpd, 10 December 2008 - 04:23 PM.





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