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I made a stupid mistake by running a Linux installation (OpenSuse) over my XP Installation. Now I want to know if it possible to restore files from the previous XP installation somehow (Outlook Express especially).

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you actually deleted/formatted the Windows partition to install Linux, you may be out of luck as the larger files are probably overwritten, however you should still be able to recover the smaller files.

For recovery of files, I recommend R-studio for a professional product, or Recuva (Available on Ninite) for a free Windows solution. For linux, I can't really recommend anything as even for Linux file recovery, I usually rip out the hard drive and use R-studio.

You will be looking for C:\Documents and Settings\<User>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\(GUID)\Microsoft\Outlook Express

If however you installed Linux on a different partition, you will need to put in your Windows setup disk and basically rebuild the boot sector / Windows Boot Loader. To do this, Press R on startup to launch the Recovery Console and then type fixmbr followed by fixboot. You can find out more information about the recovery console here.

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If you have formatted the drive and wiped the XP installation, it's going to be tricky.

Most important: turn off the computer to avoid any further writing to the disk.

Create a BartPE Live CD, add a data recovery program (i'm swearing by WinHex/Davory, but you may have luck with a free alternative) that is able to recover from formatted drives.

note: if you're using Davory, you'll have to make it portable: either copy the installation folder from another computer or run the installer through Universal Extractor. you can run the trial version first and find out if Davory is able to find the files you're after. For recovery however, you'll need a license. check the Physical Disk (not Logical Drives) with Davory and choose Recovery by Type.

boot from the BartPE CD and run the data recovery program, you're looking to recover *.DBX files.

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