Recovering data from a formatted drive


TS Rookie
Here's the deal.

I got an external hard drive as a gift, and it broke. The drive itself was fine, and rather than losing 2 weeks by RMAing the drive with WD, thus losing my data in the process, I decided to get myself an external enclosure for the HDD inside, which was still in perfect working order.

Once I had that installed, windows 7 wouldn't assign it a drive letter. Acting without thinking, I went ahead and formatted the drive, hoping to recover my data later. This was a mistake, and after having tried three different pieces of software, I can't get anything back.

Short of bringing it to a professional data recovery firm, how might I recover the data from the drive?


TS Evangelist
Have you tried Recuva?

The important thing to remember in the meantime is NOT to write anything to the hard disk, as a format just removes it, and the right recovery software should be able to relocate it all, as long as the data hasn't been overwritten by other files.

Dare I ask why you have no backups?!?


TechSpot Chancellor
Download the demo for GetDataBack and see if it is able to find the data. If it can, purchase it. There is a version for FAT and one for NTFS.


TS Rookie
Thanks for the replies.

I'm running recuva right now, should take 16 hours. I'll post the results tonight.

I had 500gb internal and 1.5TB external. Since I had so much data, and only had one external drive, I didn't have room to make a full 1:1 backup of my data. None of it is stuff I necessarily need back, but it'd be preferable to going through and finding everything again, which could take months (since I can't download more than 100gb a month through my ISP)


Recuva finished, it found a bunch of PDFs and pngs. the pngs were of Mac OS GUI segments (like the green, yellow, and red buttons at the top of windows on a mac, etc.), as well as all the WD Smartware guides in every language.

No videos, no actual documents.

Running GetMyData now. This is the last thing I will try, i've put this drive through probably about 72 hours of solid read/write so i'm afraid i might overwork the thing. It runs pretty warm as-is.

Any thoughts?

Edit: And finally, since i don't know whether i should edit this into another post or not, here goes:

I think i've figured something out. Whether i'm right or not, i don't know, but here.

the drive I had was a WD MyBook external drive. I could read the files just fine when I had the WD SATA-USB adapter that was inside the casing for that. even though it was broken, I could hold the USB connector together and read files off of it, but the connection was spotty and it stopped working after 3 attempts.

So what I believe to be the case is that WD has its own type of OS flashed to that chip, one which reads the files and sends them to windows, and vice-versa with write operations.

It would also support the fact that the drive had a LED fullness meter, which could be software-controlled on the chip.

Finally, it would also explain why the only data i can pull from the lost partition is "encrypted" in 4gb SWF files, which might not be flash objects, as the extension suggests, but rather SmartWare Files (guess).

So basically, in order to access files on a myBook external drive, you have to use their built-in hardware. Whether or not this applies to all WD external hard drives, i don't know, but mine was the WD MyBook Essential, with the white 4-bar capacity gauge.