Win 7 "Recovery" Destroyed Storage/Data Disk

I posted this at the Windows 7 Forums website as well. Just hoping to run it by a few folks in case anyone else has dealt with this issue. Pretty sure I'm out of luck, but I'd really like to find a way to recover this data...

I've been using the Win 7 RC for quite a while now, and really have enjoyed it. Ordered a couple copies of the Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade for my wife and I. Got her PC all updated no hitch. Unfortunately, I've been fighting the process on my system all night long. It's just been one thing after another. Apparently the Upgrade disk will tell you your CD-Key is invalid if you don't already have Windows XP or Windows Vista installed before you 'upgrade'.

Anyhow, I finally got everything sorted out. However, I'm extremely frustrated right now by something Windows 7 did without my approval. In order to get Windows to boot properly, I had to disconnect my additional SATA drives so the boot record would write properly, and therefore Windows would load after install. Apparently, Win 7 decided however to take over the lone IDE hard drive I had not disconnected.

Unfortunately for me, it took that drive which was LITERALLY FULL of videos and family photos and other stuff I had used it to store, and created a partition in it. Yeah, Win 7 decided apparently to destroy all of that data to create a 100MB partition so it can have it's own "Recovery" data in case I have a problem later.

What the heck is with this?! I've literally lost hundreds of photos, videos, and other data that absolutely CANNOT be replaced. This WAS my backup drive to keep all these files safe until I reinstalled Windows 7, and now Microsoft has destroyed all my data.

As it sits now, this drive has two partitions. One of which is 100MB (Recovery) and one is 189GB (Unallocated and has no drive letter, and Windows won't let me assign one). I read something elsewhere which indicated that Windows seems to mess up the zoning of data on the drive when it does this, and that a simple format might actually destroy the boot record on this drive.

Is there ANY possible way to recover any of the lost data?!?

This was a 200GB hard drive that was literally full. Now it's a 100MB Windows 7 Recovery DVD basically, with an unallocated 189GB partition which windows will not allow me to assign a drive letter. :fou:
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  1. That 100MB Recovery partition is a boot environment where one can run diagnostic tools right off the hard drive to assist in repairing various bootup issues with Windows that can arise. I have had to use it once and was surprised at how well it worked. Now to the hard drive...

    First of all, remove the drive from your computer so it can't power on. The less time the drive is actually running, the less chance it will have of being able to move data around on the platters (the more drive activity there is between when the data is erased, and when the recovery process begins, the lower your chances of getting anything back). Second, start hunting for some data recovery software. I happen to like EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard. I had to use this recently to recover approximately 900GB (yes, 900 Gigabytes) of data when I mistakenly formatted the wrong hard drive (yes, anyone can make that mistake). I had a couple of other recovery programs but this one was able to give me the entire directory structure of the drive before the accidental format, and successfully recovered every byte of data.

    The program itself costs $70, but consider that if you were to take the drive to a data recovery shop, they would likely do the same thing (using a software based data recovery method) and charge you quite a bit more money to do so.

    Once you have a recovery program, hook the formatted drive up to the system you're running the recovery from (if your existing Windows install still exists on the computer where the accidental format happened, run it from there). Let it scan the formatted drive , but be sure you tell the program to ignore any existing MFT's (Master File Table) it finds. Using the existing table will only show you what is presently on the drive, not what was there before.
  2. Best answer
    Strange... I didn't encounter any issues whatsoever when I installed Windows 7 on a second partition in my RAID array. Anyway, you can try using a program called Zero Assumption Recovery (ZAR) to attempt to recover the data (you'll have to search for lost partitions). Whatever you do, DO NOT USE the drive. Anything that hasn't been overwritten should be very easy for the program to recover. Just be aware that with the free version, you can only recover 4 folders per run. Do NOT recover the data to the same drive that you are pulling the files from... as you risk destroying what chance you have to recover the rest.

    I don't understand how this partition was created without your knowledge or consent. I have never experienced anything like it. Windows generally warns you when you are about to destroy data.
  3. Another one that I use is R-Studio. It is free to try. In demo mode You can see what files You can recover and then decide if it is worth buying.
  4. To be fair to Windows 7 & MS - the installation routine does tell you that Windows 7 will create another partition during the installation process. Now I have 2 x 1 gb Spinpoint F3's and Windows uses the first drive in the list of attached drives its comes to. Im guessing in your case the IDE drive was set to master on channel 0 and so windows elected to use that drive
  5. I know it is too late now, but when ever I install an OS, I ALWAYS unhook all the drives I have except the one I am installing the OS on. It simply makes good sense.
  6. Thank you all for your replies. I ended up trying out the ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery) program. It worked like a charm. I was able to recover 94% of the data on the drive.

    *wipes forehead*

    Now I can tell the wife I didn't actually lose all the family photos or videos of our two kids!!

    I think ulyssess35 is right however. My 200GB drive is an IDE set to Master and is showing on channel 0. So Windows must have had an internal default setting to put it's recovery there. Really stupid if you ask me. However, next time I will be unplugging all my drives first.
  7. jerreece said:
    Thank you all for your replies. I ended up trying out the ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery) program. It worked like a charm. I was able to recover 94% of the data on the drive.

    Glad to hear it!
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