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While I was viewing the settings for my external USB hard drive, my 1 year old son clicked the "start format" button. I managed to unplug the drive within 5 seconds.

Now, when I connect the drive to my laptop (or any PC), I cannot open or read my hard drive, instead I get a message saying:

The disk in drive F is not formatted, do you want to format it now?

I believe the disk has not yet been fully formatted, some of the technicians I spoke to said my data is still on the hard drive because I immediately removed the USB cable.

Does anyone knows how to recover the data on the drive? This drive has very important work and family documents on it, and I really need them.

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Just a kind advice for the future: find a backup solution that works for you. Backing up data is the first golden rule of computing. –  sammyg Apr 25 '14 at 16:16

4 Answers 4

If you click that button you will get another window first asking how to format it...

As that window would appear I don't think it started to format it but you somehow caused corruption...

You could try to click no and try to get on the disk to see if you can still see the files.
If not the only thing you could still try is to use a tool like Recuva.

You can prevent this in the future by taking back-ups and avoiding that part of the system.

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thanksfor answering,ya i downloaded the Recuva but its still unable to open my hard disc.its says unable to read boot sector –  Ann Sep 3 '10 at 17:44
Try something different, if that doesn't help there still is TestDisk ( cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk ) but that's really advanced stuff that can do a lot and might help, but I haven't tried it myself yet so I can't guide you through it. In the worst case you have damaged the external kit or the hard drive, but let's hope that didn't happen... –  Tom Wijsman Sep 3 '10 at 18:29

For Data reovery, then best software that I have found of use has been GetDataBack which is a paid software (about 70 to 80 bucks for NTFS) but it works wonders. I've been able to recover a lot of data from hard drives using this software. If you're looking for a free option, the choices suggested already will work.

In either case though, It is essential that you do not write any more data to the hard drive, that INCLUDES recovering your files. When you recover the files, transfer the files to a separate physical disk. Once you're sure that you've recovered all the files you need then transfer the data back to the original disk. Not following this rule, will cause you to possibly never see your files again.

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+1 for the warning, this is the most important thing to start with. ;-) –  Tom Wijsman Sep 3 '10 at 17:09
thanks KronoS, yeah Im using Recuva now later i ll download GEtDAta Back –  Ann Sep 3 '10 at 18:11

Try using Piriform's Recuva. The technician is right though. It's probably easier actually to recover a formatted drive than a partially formatted drive, as a partially formatted drive is probably corrupted.

And on another note, remain calm and prepare for something like this to happen again. Start backing your data with another hard drive or a service like Mozy. $55/yr. is a low price to pay for security. Don't put your computer where your son can hit the mouse.

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!st answerer: thanks for answering, really appreciate it, i already downloaded the Recuva, hope it helps.. –  Ann Sep 3 '10 at 16:52
the Piriform's REcuva doesnt work, i click on the hard drive i want it to scan and its says unable to read boot sector. how to solve that??? –  Ann Sep 3 '10 at 17:01

It really depends what tools you use.

If you don't mind buying something, I highly recommend R-studio. Using R-Studio, it can do a whole scan of your physical drive and recover files that just exist and have no allocation or similar.

I use this program all the time to recover damaged or similar drives and highly recommend it for this sort of thing.

Seen others recommending Recuva. It is a good tool, I have recommended and used it myself a few times, but for anything professional or serious, R-Studio is what I would use.

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thanks Wil for answering, ill try Recuva first see if doesnt help then ill tryy R-studio –  Ann Sep 3 '10 at 18:10
Never heard of R-Studio. Is this primarily a disk and partition recovery software? Rather than file recovery software? –  sammyg Apr 25 '14 at 16:14

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