Restore formatted hard disk – that’s how it works

Restore formatted hard disk – that’s how it works

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If you accidentally format the wrong hard drive or delete partitions, the shock is usually large but unnecessary. We’ll show you how to recover files with hard drive recovery from formatted partitions and deleted partitions.

hard drive recovery

First of all, a few terms must be clear. One always speaks of formatted hard disks, but actually hard disks are partitioned and formatted partitions. So there are two possible sources of problems here. Formatting a partition is usually done by right-clicking on the drive under Windows and selecting the option “Format” from the context menu, there you will soon be wrong if many hard disks and partitions hang in the system. In order to delete a partition, you must already try a partition manager or the depths of the Windows Control Panel – but that can happen too. Especially for amateurs, a partition manager does not necessarily look clear.

Partition managers manage the partitioning of disks.

Deleted partitions can be recovered in most cases. Then the state is as before – the partition is for example as drive “D:” in the system and the files and folders are also there again. After formatting a partition, most files can also be restored – but not always with the correct file names and folder structures.

There are many tools that can accomplish these tasks, and we suggest one with no graphical interface. In fact, even two tools that come together though: TestDisk and PhotoRec, Do not over-estimate the name, TestDisk restores partitions, and PhotoRec recovers just about anything you want. Both tools run in the terminal, so the Windows command prompt, are menu-guided, very simple but above all extremely reliable. PhotoRec now even has a small GUI. There are, as I said, more “modern” programs with fancier graphical interfaces, but in case of problems you experience, but always with these two tools. There you can get to know the right tools.

Nevertheless, you can also try the freeware Recuva for a first try From Piriform (known to the Ccleaner): Start the program and just use the wizard or enter the drive in the main window and click on “Scan” – often that’s enough, and you can save even more effort.

Restore files after formatting

The more common case is recovering files after formatting. Most of the time, you will use the “quick formatting ” provided by Windows – making file recovery easy and fast. If you have removed the checkmark, the rescue attempt will take hours – and will usually be unsuccessful. It looked much better on old 32-bit operating systems up to Windows Vista. Download the two programs first:

  • TestDisk
  • PhotoRec

Unzip the archive and change to the folder.

You can start the graphical version of PhotoRec with “gphotorec_win.exe”: Simply select the desired drive, more oneFold for the recovered files (PhotoRec never writes to the disk from which you are saving!) And start the search.

Unfortunately, file recovery is something that happens again and again; when the system is not running properly, the Windows login may even fail completely. Then you may end up in Microsoft’s rescue console or even need to use a live Linux.