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Recovering Data After a Format

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February 23, 2010 4:25:00 PM

Hello!

I won't go into the specifics of how it happened, but I ended up formatting the wrong drive on my computer while I was installing Windows 7, I formatted the drive containing all my backed up files! :( 
The Windows setup did a 'full' format, ie, not a quick format. Nothing has touched the drive, it's completely bare of any [non-system] files. I've already scanned it with GetDataBackNTFS and Recuva or Undelete, I can't remember the name of the second program. Anyways, I did deep and full scans of the disk with both programs and they've only come up with hidden system files and none of my lost data.

Is there something I'm doing wrong or did the format erase everything instead of allocating the space to be overwritten?

More about : recovering data format

a c 359 G Storage
February 23, 2010 6:47:44 PM

Beginning with VISTA, and also in Win 7, a Full Format writes zeroes to EVERY sector - it is a fully destructive "zero fill" operation. Your only hope for recovering the old data will be a professional and expensive data recovery service.
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February 23, 2010 6:56:58 PM

The "full format" was performed with a Windows XP install CD, does it still perform the same operation?
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a c 359 G Storage
February 23, 2010 7:39:04 PM

NO. Full format up until and including XP did NOT do a zero-fill operation. It only did non-destructive read testing. However, in that case you certainly should have been able to to find old files with GetDataBack NTFS.Si I am surprised that did not work, nor the other tool you tried.
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February 23, 2010 11:21:03 PM

Can you clarify one (critical) detail please. In your original question you stated that "...I ended up formatting the wrong drive on my computer while I was installing Windows 7..." From this it sounds like you did format using W7. Just be clear on this because this is a very important issue indeed. If you can't be absolutely sure then say that because in this case your info will make a whole world of a difference in us being able to give you the right feedback!
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February 24, 2010 1:43:13 AM

No, when I was initially trying to install Windows 7 (using a DVD) I ran into problems with my DVD drive, which I am trying to solve in another forum. Since I couldn't get to the point where I would format the old, remaining operating system, I ended up handing the drive to someone else to format using his computer as I couldn't do it with my own.

He had the XP cd on hand and used *that* set up to format the drive I gave him, which had all my back-up data. I'm absolutely sure it was the Windows XP setup because it looks totally different from the W7 installer.
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a c 127 G Storage
February 24, 2010 10:06:24 AM

The full format under XP does delete (zero-write) the first 20MB so kills off any File Allocation Tables. You should be able to recover using MFT records; but 100% clean recovery is not possible anymore.

By the way, if this was your backup disk; that means you have other disks with the same data as well (else it wouldn't be a backup).
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a c 359 G Storage
February 24, 2010 12:25:48 PM

sub mesa's clarification is useful info. But the point of many file recovery packages like GetDataBack NTFS is that they can search the entire disk area and find data in sectors, then hope to link chains of sectors together into files, without a complete set of Directory and MFT records. That is not working here, it seems. I wonder if the recovery process is stymied by the fact that NEW files actually have been written to the disk - you said the recovery software does show "hidden system files" but nothing else. Don't know what those are. Could be just the Root Directory and MFT structures for the NTFS File System, or maybe the Format operation also installed the basic I/O files, too.
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February 24, 2010 2:56:17 PM

This is what I was talking about, these are the only files that GDB-NTFS showed after scanning the drive for recoverable files:

http://yfrog.com/1x36732859p

They're just hidden system files which only equates to 152mb and you can see that nothing else in terms of files or folders has touched the drive.

edit: I said this was the back-up disk and it is. You're right that the files exist elsewhere, on the second drive on my desktop (which was formatted for Windows) and on my laptop which conveniently decided to crash on Sunday, as well. They weren't exact copies, either. My laptop doesn't have any of my save games or an up-to-date copy of all my e-mails, etc.
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a c 127 G Storage
February 24, 2010 4:14:11 PM

You can't view them on the disk itself, and i'm not sure if you even should try. Writing to the volume could produce further data loss.

You should use a recovery program that scans the disk for any MFT records, which indicate a file is being stored. It may not be able to recover the exact directory structure, or even the name of a file (you get a random named file) - but you should be able to recover part of your files. Not using Windows though, and i recommend you prevent writing to the drive until you have recovered your data..
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February 25, 2010 5:14:35 AM

Well I tried Active@ and everytime I tried to run it an error was thrown and it crashed, presumably because it doesn't work in x64 environments. =/
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March 1, 2010 5:45:59 AM

I could've sworn I enabled this option last time, but I'll try this now. Thanks Billy!

Edit: Even then, it only comes up with a few files; fonts, fragments of a .rar compilation, a few bmp's. Doesn't look like I'm going to get anything off it myself!
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July 21, 2010 11:23:03 AM

Paperdoc said:
Beginning with VISTA, and also in Win 7, a Full Format writes zeroes to EVERY sector - it is a fully destructive "zero fill" operation.


Do you have some link that confirms that that behavior is correct even for Windows 7? From this Microsoft page it is clear that Windows Vista does this, but it also mentions Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, but not Windows 7.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/941961/en-us

It would be very good to have this really confirmed.

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Theoretically, format does not delete the data actually. It just marks the head of section where data locals by a kind of symbols telling operating system that this section is re-useable.


This has always been true, but as seen above changed in at least Windows Vista. From an integrity point of view I think that is good since most people has always thought that a format actually deletes their data..

EDIT: forgot the link.
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July 28, 2010 7:58:52 AM

Good explanation about format recovery. But I want to added that when you accidentally formatted device and lost important data. The first thing you should do is to stop putting any new data on the device before recovery to avoid data overwriting. Then search format recovery software on Google, there is various software on the market.
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July 29, 2010 11:53:50 AM

i hav used a software which works works perfectly with latest version of windows, it in two modes standard and advance modes respectively for recent data lost and lost of data long time ago. This software will show preview of data recovered to check your all files are recovered are not, you can also download demo version from
http://www.windowsrecoverysoftware.com
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August 23, 2010 9:40:09 PM

I used EASEUS Data Recovery Wizzard and have succesfully recovered over a dozen drives ranging from accidental format to partition breakdown to USB drive rendered partitionless and managed to save 98% of an important program even after a format and a windows instalation on top of it. I recommend this software it doesen;t do wonders like recovering your 7 year old files after 7 winxp instalations but i had the best experience with it.
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September 7, 2010 8:05:09 AM

Format won't make the files in hard disk erased permanently. Those formatted file data are still stored on the disk just invisible or inaccessible. Only the FAT or NFTS table erased the information about where those data were saved but the real data are still intact there in sectors of the disk.So as long as those files are not overwritten by new data, it's highly possible to get back formatted data. And the MOST Effective way is to rely on some file recovery software. But before your formatted data are recovered, do not save more data to the hard drive.
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February 27, 2012 2:59:07 PM

Kynaeus said:
Hello!

I won't go into the specifics of how it happened, but I ended up formatting the wrong drive on my computer while I was installing Windows 7, I formatted the drive containing all my backed up files! :( 
The Windows setup did a 'full' format, ie, not a quick format. Nothing has touched the drive, it's completely bare of any [non-system] files. I've already scanned it with GetDataBackNTFS and Recuva or Undelete, I can't remember the name of the second program. Anyways, I did deep and full scans of the disk with both programs and they've only come up with hidden system files and none of my lost data.

Is there something I'm doing wrong or did the format erase everything instead of allocating the space to be overwritten?



Don't worry; You can use quite useful date recovery software to recover your lost data from accidental disk format. You can try freeware recuva, it is very useful, wish you luck mate! you can download it from here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/280846-32-will-recove... :bounce: 
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October 11, 2012 4:20:59 PM

hey i downloaded recuva.. bt nw aftr recovering files its askin for key to extract
.
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October 17, 2012 5:39:08 AM

Haha someone replied old thread.

Free data recovery after format is available. You should try the following:

Recuva - completely free and now also has paid edition
PC Inspector -free
iCare Data Recovery Free - with 2gb free recovery
Easeus data recovery Wizard Free - with 1gb free recovery

If files are important in the formatted drive, you should use these recovery software before you do other things.

If one freeware does not help you out, try another.





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October 17, 2012 5:55:43 AM

Don't panic! Just take your time. And do as I tell you.
1. Stop saving anything new on this drive in case of the original data overwritten by the new data, which could erase your important data permanently.
2. Select a useful and faithful recovery program to help you out. There are some free and great recovery programs.
3. Save the recovered data on another drive, for this could reduce the possibility to restore your lost data completely and successfully.
4. Always remember to back up your important data.
I hope you could get back your data as soon as possible.
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January 6, 2013 4:59:35 AM

goldenshader said:
Don't panic! Just take your time.And do as i tell you.
1. Stop saving anything new on this formatted drive right now, for this could rewrite the original data there, which could be a night mare to your lost data.
2. Select a useful and faithful recovery program to help you out. There are some free and great recovery programs.
3. Save the recovered data on another drive, for this could reduce the possibility to restore your lost data completely and successfully.
4. Always remember to back up your important data.
I hope you could get back your data as soon as possible.


Thank you for your nice help. I have the same problem on my formatted usb drive and now due to your kind guide, I have already taken my lost photos off the USB with the freeware you mentioned.

Great help and you guys are doing great job on computer help. Just want to say thank you for your help.
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November 9, 2013 12:02:39 AM

Kynaeus said:
Hello!

I won't go into the specifics of how it happened, but I ended up formatting the wrong drive on my computer while I was installing Windows 7, I formatted the drive containing all my backed up files! :( 
The Windows setup did a 'full' format, ie, not a quick format. Nothing has touched the drive, it's completely bare of any [non-system] files. I've already scanned it with GetDataBackNTFS and Recuva or Undelete, I can't remember the name of the second program. Anyways, I did deep and full scans of the disk with both programs and they've only come up with hidden system files and none of my lost data.

Is there something I'm doing wrong or did the format erase everything instead of allocating the space to be overwritten?


Actually when hard disk is formatted, the data on the hard drive is not erased. System only mark the hard disk as free so that new files will write to hard disk. You can recover data after format with format recover tool, see this step by step guide: format recovery

You need to take note that you should not write any new files to hard drive as new files will overwrite the space and make the original data on the space unrecoverable.

Next time always remember to back up your data, it is important as backup make your data safe.
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