Question Erased the wrong USB drive by mistake using quick format

hydrocynus

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Aug 9, 2011
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Hello,
I was having problems restoring a HDD with Acronis true image 2020 and wanted to format the drive in question but, instead, I quick formatted my backup USB HDD (4TB). This archive disk has several large files (drone video footage and full images of disk TIB and TIBx files). I have immediately unhooked the HDD from the PC to find a solution. As such, I have not placed any files on this HDD. The quick format was done in Windows 10 disk management module. I suppose I did not right click on the right HDD (I was pretty sure I did though).

1- Is there a free program to restore the HDD after a quick format. I found some, but they are paid programs.
2- if not, what program should I use? These files are really important to me.

Thanks.
 
Recuva has worked for me in such scenarios, but, it is a time consuming scan for even a 1 TB drive. As the app might find multiple versions of the same file, I'd have another drive of substantial size as a destination drive to store the recovered files to. (You do NOT want to write to same drive whilst recovering data from it)
 

hydrocynus

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Recuva has worked for me in such scenarios, but, it is a time consuming scan for even a 1 TB drive. As the app might find multiple versions of the same file, I'd have another drive of substantial size as a destination drive to store the recovered files to. (You do NOT want to write to same drive whilst recovering data from it)
thanks for the quick answer. I thought that the files did not need to be retrieved since only the way the access the drive has changed. Is there a program that just fix this? I do not want to risk altering my files as they have not been deleted. Does that make sense?
 
Formatting, whether quick or otherwise, initialises the file system's metadata. The best you can hope for is to locate the original MFT, or remnants of it. That's where the file/folder names and attributes are stored.

You could try DMDE (US$20 for standard version). The free version can recover up to 4000 files, so that may be enough for you.

Could we see DMDE's Partitions window? If you see your missing volume, double-click it and expand the Root. Do you see your files and folders?

There is no need for a full scan, unless your desired files are not visible. You might want to consider cloning the drive and working on the clone.
 

Thesteve86

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To piggy back off of posts by fzabkar and [B]USAFRet[/B] , your best option to ensure that you successfully recover the files is to first make a 1:1 dd image of your drive using FTK Imager (to have a backup in case whatever you chose to do next corrupts the files), and then use Autopsy to recover the files. These programs are what professional data recovery experts and law enforcement use, and best of all they are both free. The only downsides to doing this the right way is that you will need a seperate storage device that can hold your 4TB image file and it will take time. Autopsy's user guide, and FTK Imager's user guide can be downloaded from the same page that you download the file.

Good Luck!
 

hydrocynus

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Hello all,

thanks for the tips. I tried the forensic programs above but I found them not easy to use (I did push them all to completion).

So, I have backed up the HDD sector per sector to another HDD. I thus have the exact same image of the disk including bad sectors if any. I then ran different programs. They pretty much all find the files but my original file structure is gone... meaning it will take me forever to get back on my feet.

Since my files have been untouched, is there a program that would restore the the file structures? I know I am asking a lot here, but I had a very complex file structure. I read on a forum that after a quick format I can kiss good bye to my file structure.

So, the good news is that all my files are there and recoverable, but the mess created by putting everything in folders with files with similar extensions will make it crazy to put everything back together in a structured way.

That is my first erroneous quick format and I will be sure I look twice in the future before formatting a drive. What a mess!

Thank you again if you can help me. Cheers to all.

UPDATE:
Looks like the file structure will be lost: "When you format a disk, one of two processes will unfold. When a quick format is performed, the system will create a new file table to replace the existing FAT or MFT. The previous file table will be partially or completely overwritten, destroying information such as filenames, folder structure and the physical location of the data, but the data will still be there. This data will remain untouched until it is overwritten by another application."

Looks like I just need a free program that will recover all my files including my tib and tibx images. Argh! Besides the ones above and the ones running on Linux, which ones are free?
 
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