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Started format, won't boot, need to recover 10 years worth of kids photos

By nichollsy1 ยท 6 replies
Jul 5, 2011
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  1. I have a 40gb hard drive that came out an old pc. It was running slow and was unable to backup. I believe it was running Windows XP and I could not remember if it hard the back up facility prior to formating.

    Unfortunately I took that risk and it started the formating process. Luckily I switched it off immediately as soon as I saw that this was happening.

    I have tried booting it back up again but files are missing. I have tried booting off a downloadable boot CD and that did not work.

    It is a Western Digital WD400EB-11CPFO, Enhanced IDE Hard Drive

    I am told I can buy a docking station cheaply off ebay to connect it to my modern pc via USB. Is this true and what do I have to buy?

    Also, I am told that I cannot just read it like an external USB drive, the files will not be visable and need software to interrigate the hard drive....once again, is this correct?

    This is pretty serious stuff as I need these precious pictures from the birth of my children, every holiday....etc.....yes big mistake.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated......

  2. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,250   +508

    Did you actually start a format or just start a reinstall of the OS? If it's the latter I would say boot from an Ubuntu disk and recover your files pretty simply. If you actually started a format I'm not sure. Maybe one of the other guys here will have more info on that. There might be some sort of utility you can have on a bootable CD that will scan the disk for recoverable files, but I've been out of that side of things for a while now.
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,549   +1,440

    The Quick Format option just updates the Partition Table and leaves the sectors alone.
    If you try this, then the data would be easily recoverable by a professional data recovery service.

    If however, you started a Full Format, then not only was the Partition Table reset, but
    the sectors were rewritten, starting at the first sector in the partition - - ie data loss started to occur.
    Even so, SOME of (or most of) your data will still be present
    but a data recovery service will still be needed - - and it gets expensive.
  4. Rabbit01

    Rabbit01 TS Evangelist Posts: 786   +58

  5. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,020   +55

    Add to the above info, you need something to fit your old 3.5" IDE PATA hard drive into, which will then connect to your other pc via USB 2, such as;
    It's an empty 'Caddy' or external hard drive enclosure, with a connector inside that plugs into the connections on the back edge of your old hard drive.
    Then to recover the data, you need some recovery software, as mentioned above, and I have used with good results;
    There is no guarantee you will recover your files, but I have been surprised at what can be done.
    *Most important to recover the data to a different drive from the the source drive.
  6. pjamme

    pjamme TS Enthusiast Posts: 208

    I would get the adaptor mike mentione, we have used a Vantec SATA?IDE to USB adapter for years works great. Then try one of the recovery software avaialble.
    I had formatted my windows 2k workstation and installed XP pro when i realized I hadn't gotten our wedding photos onto a DVD. Not a good thing for a newlywed.
    I downloaded a trial of Active undelete and liked what i saw so bough version 5. ( I think it is up to version 7 now). Long story short, after many hours of scanning I was able to get all my photos onto the new XP computer and thus off to DVD's
  7. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,250   +508

    Just talked to my buddy here who did the same exact thing - quick format on a machine that had files he still needed. He did as Rabbit, mike and pjamme said (usb adapter) except he used recuva (as mike said) and got all his files back.

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