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NobodyImportant
Posts: 7
Joined: 26 Apr 2020, 23:27

Not sure How to recover formatted partition

#1 Post by NobodyImportant »

Hi, and thanks in advance for any help!
I did an oopsie and now im trying to undo it.

BACKGROUND:
-I had a dual boot Win10 Win7 laptop, But since Win10 didn't have all the drivers i needed Win7 was my main OS.
-After the January 2020 SSU the Win7 partition went into an irrecoverable bootloop. But the Recovery partition and system recovery tools of both Windows versions were broken.
-I used an old recovery disk to attempt a startup repair - to no avail.
This is went things started to go south.
-The recovery disk failed eventually and had no windows installation on it to begin with so it couldn't be used for a "Repair Install".
-Since i had no installation media i tried downloading an iso but windows linked those to product keys, OEM product keys dont work, and support could not help since the win7 iso shouldnt even have been online any more since support ended.
-I had a set of recovery disks from the OEM, these however start an OEM recovery where "Repair Install" is not available, only something that would delete all data. I didn't want this.
-I could open a console and trying to fix the recovery partitions i followed a guide https://neosmart.net/wiki/fix-mbr/ that said to do

Code: Select all

bootrec /rebuildbcd
. This failed as neither of the two partitions were found as bootable windows installations.
-This is where i first messed up as i tried executing code from that guide i didnt know the exact effects of. The

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 bootsect /nt60 SYS /mbr
below the win7 part. Either the previous step or this apparently did mess something up, as now upon restart i get a "bootmgr not found" error and can't boot anything.

THE BIG MISTAKE:
Still in the command line of the OEM recovery disk i managed to find an executable that was something along the lines of "windows installation manager". Thinking that this could give the option to do a repair install unlike the OEM software i executed it.
Unfortunately instead it started with "formatting system drive".
I immediately closed the console executing the code but it was too late. The former Win7 drive was now completely empty.


CURRENT STATE:

Code: Select all

chkdsk /f /r
found and restored no files despite scanning the empty space for hours and just reported the entire drive as empty. Unless checkdisk hurt itself in its confusion and overwrote the files it was trying to restore and somehow ended up deleting everything even the things it restored... which is unlikely ....all my files should still be exactly where i left them - just not accessible.
This was the only thing i executed on the partition before now and i didn't want to risk damaging anything so i came here immediately. TestDisks partition recovery says that the hard disk is too small for recovery of a partition... which is unsurprising given that both ~500GB partitions were 90% full.
However i'm unsure if it's even trying to recover the right thing, as it would only need 435GB extra for recovery while the formatted partition was 510GB.

MEANS:
I have a 1TB external HDD available on loan for a week, an old parted magic thingie with internet connection currently booted on a ramdisk, with TestDisk installed, and endless time thanks to the covid lockdown. The only time constraint is that i might die of boredom.

ENDS:
1) I need to recover all data from the seemingly empty 500GB Win7 partition. This is quite important as i only have backups of the most vital things and lots of work and game files are on there.
2) I would like to back up the entire Win10 partition and all the other small partitions bit-perfectly so they can be put back later. This should probably be the first step because, while the data on these partitions is just stuff that can be downloaded again or isnt working, it would be an absolute hassle to have to download that much again or lose some stuff that i cant get back, and for now everything on them is still accessible. I dont want to risk that changing.
3) I would very much like to format the entire disk to let the OEM installer make new partitions as it pleases. (Or if that doesn't work let the OEM installer reinstall on the original HDD that i had taken out years ago and then copy the partitions from that and rebuild the mbr.)
4) After all this i would also quite like to make the entirely untouched Win10 partition bootable again.

What do i do now?

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cgrenier
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Re: Not sure How to recover formatted partition

#2 Post by cgrenier »

As the partition has been reformated, you should try PhotoRec to recover your data. Be careful to not store the recovered files on the source.
To do a bit to bit copy, you can use ddrescue as explained in https://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk.pdf
Remember to disconnect all disks except the one where you want to reinstall Windows when you restart the installer.
Good luck

NobodyImportant
Posts: 7
Joined: 26 Apr 2020, 23:27

Re: Not sure How to recover formatted partition

#3 Post by NobodyImportant »

So testdisk can't do anything with the reformatted partition?
Won't photorec just find indivdual files with the folder structure gone?
I cant imagine that folder structure info for 500GBs of data could be erased in 2 seconds of formatting. The issue is that i need the folder structure because i dont have individual datafiles of importance but rather dozens of gigabytes worth of projects ive been working on.
Hence why i wanna try to recover that.

Isnt partition recovery meant for this?
Or undeleting data?

I really do not know what to do.

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cgrenier
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Re: Not sure How to recover formatted partition

#4 Post by cgrenier »

Partition recovery is for recovering a partition that has been deleted. TestDisk may work only if the old partition has been deleted and the one has been created at another location before being formatted.
Undeleting data means recovering a deleted file.
In your case, the filesystem has been reformatted.
I cant imagine that folder structure info for 500GBs of data could be erased in 2 seconds of formatting.
Unfortunately it's the case. You can always try other data recovery utilities, maybe one will find some trace of old file structure...

NobodyImportant
Posts: 7
Joined: 26 Apr 2020, 23:27

Re: Not sure How to recover formatted partition

#5 Post by NobodyImportant »

So is there nothing in the TestDisk suite that i could try to recover the folder structure?

NobodyImportant
Posts: 7
Joined: 26 Apr 2020, 23:27

Re: Not sure How to recover formatted partition

#6 Post by NobodyImportant »

Well thank you for the help anyway!

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