Unformat

Discussion in 'Windows Desktop Systems' started by Redisk, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Redisk

    Redisk OSNN One Post Wonder

    Messages:
    3
    Hello, I'm sorta new to the boards. I come back now and again and have always been a big supporter of your site. I'm here because I need help trying to figure out a way to uninstall/unformat a hard drive to get to the files that were on it before hand. Heres the set up for whats going on...

    I had a major sound problem on a laptop and created my backup and had to use winace to make the back up fit on CD-R. And well this is where I messed up... I forgot to burn the first disk and now i've re-installed windows and don't have the first file to be able to recover my data. Any suggestions on how to recover that one file?
     
  2. omg its nlm

    omg its nlm lvl 17 Hax Folding Team

    Messages:
    1,829
    Location:
    Minnesota
  3. Hipster Doofus

    Hipster Doofus Good grief Charlie Brown

    Messages:
    5,920
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Put it down to experience & next time make sure the backup is working before you format. :(
     
  4. Son Goku

    Son Goku No lover of dogma

    Just one note... If you've done an install on the drive after formatting it, it's a toss up what you'll be able to retrieve. Still it's worth a try if you're missing important data.

    OK, a slight heads up here. When you delete a file, format, whatever, what you're really doing is deleting the directory entry to a given file. However, the actual sectors/clusters containing the file aren't being over-written (without some kind of secure delete, file shredding, or the like), and for this reason the data is technically still on the disk. There just isn't an entry in the FAT, MFT, (the specific name for the given tables depend on the file system used, but they all essentially do the same thing, in providing a file lookup, and then a pointer if you will to tell the comp where to go to retrieve that file). This is also why file recovery is possible...

    However, once you start writting new data to the disk, or start creating new files on it (which a re-installation of your operating system will do), then sectors begin to get over-written with the data for your new files. Once this has happened, the actual contents for the older files are possibly getting over-written albeit there is no given that it will chose to use the same exact sectors. You might be able to recover your data at this point, or you might not, else only some fragments of the file might remain, with other fragments now missing.

    First best thing is to stop using the disk (aka minimize the amount of new stuff being written to it). Then you can try one of the utilities such as linked above to try to recover it. For future reference however, if your comp craps out on you, you might either:

    - want to try installing Windows to a different partition
    - Do a repair instilllation on the old copy just in case
    - If there is no other hard drive and it can't be repaired, try installing a second copy of Windows to the same partition, but in a different directory.

    Now this third option isn't normally advised, and the installer might gripe about this option (while chosing to leave the partition in tact and not reformat). But if there's data there you haven't backed up, then as a temporary solution, it's better then losing your data outright.

    Besides it wouldn't necessarily be around long, and your first instalation of Windows would be toast at this point. What you could do, is with the second install, commence the backup of your data which you needed to do previously. Without a reformat, it will still be accessible and all. Once you've backed it up, then you can format and do a fresh install and all...

    BTW, I'm basing this suggestion on the assumption that things are installed on an NTFS partition. If you're using a FAT32 partition and have access to a win98 boot disk, then the option becomes all that much easier, as the win98 boot disk would give you access to your files to copy them over somewhere...
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2006