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So here is what happened:

In a hurry to reformat a USB drive I used GParted in Ubuntu 10.10 to reformat my computer's windows hard drive. I deleted the NTFS format and then formatted it to FAT32. After I realized this I turned off the computer and removed the drive, and placed it in a static safe bag. I have purchased a second HD that I plan to use DD to copy the drive to and then work from there. I am hoping that the back up NTFS volume information is still there and that I can use something like TestDisk to restore the back up NTFS volume. Has anyone done this? Or would it be smarted to just use some software to recover the files that I want.

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You can always try it on an image of the disk, and if it doesn't work use another image (or a copy of the image) to recover your files with photorec or such. You can make as many image copies as you need...

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Why would you work on an image versus a clone of the drive using the dd command? Are there advantages? – user53510 Oct 26 '10 at 17:48
A clone would work too of course. – JanC Oct 27 '10 at 1:14
Recovered partition. All data and system config using TestDisk to restore the partition information, and Super Grub to rebuild XP's MBR. – user53510 Oct 27 '10 at 2:06

Most probably quicker and easier to simply recover the files you want off your drive, then start again.

When I say quicker I mean, peace of mind. Find your formatted files you need, then simply re-install windows and apps. At least in this respect you gain a new windows install to start fresh.

I always use R-Studio, but have been noticing that many people have commented on using "photorec" I haven't used, but trends are indicating it must be useful.

Perform a search on 'NTFS data recover' here and you will find heaps of questions similar to yours with very good answers.

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Actually, recover the drive was easier. I cloned the drive using Ubuntu and dd, put it in a different computer running windows and used TestDisk to recover the entire drive, used supergrub to rebuild the windows XP boot manager, and voila in 25 or 30 minutes I had my computer back as if nothing had happened. The guy who makes photorec also makes TestDisk. – user53510 Mar 13 '11 at 2:52

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