Long story short : I messed up my GPT and went on to try to fix it without asking anyone, just searching around. Didn't turn out too well.

Right now all I'm concerned about is a 500GB that I formatted as exFat partition with some important files. But on my journey to fix, I may have used the 'fdisk' command on a GParted Live CD I have (couldn't get on any OS) and switched it to ext2. Now I can't get access to it, doesn't show up on Windows or Mac. Only on the partition table as ext2.

I have got access to most of my files through recovery softwares but they cannot recover with the originial directory or file names, which would be a pain to fix.

I want to know if there is a way to change back the file system to exFat without having to format it.

Thanks in advance.


This is how my partitions look like right. enter image description here

5 Answers 5


Best after trying is TestDisk 6.13 to save SD card that became RAW after Windows 7 crashed whilst moving files from the SD to HDD. After reboot the SD was RAW. I took the chance after trying many programs without success to WRITE the partition back to the SD. Steps are in website http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step Better than initializing the disk again, since the folder structure could be found.

Recuva - only most photos and black videos (none of the videos worked but took up disk space - just showed black or at most the first frame)

Active Partition Recovery - showed the disk structure with DCIM and the folders in it and the files in the folders but the FREE version would not let me check any video bigger than 10MB and those smaller did not work. It did not allow any saving to another drive either because the SD card was RAW.

Aidfile Recovery took a long time to come up with directory structure without any progress indication. Looking into the most important folders showed nothing.

Glary Undelete crashed with: Access violation at address 00404573 in module 'undelete.exe'. Read of address 00000000.

Puran File Recovery found 694 files and could list by type of jpg or mp4. The mp4s played video BUT no sound.

Remo exFAT Recovery && Yodot File Recovery didn't even see the raw SD card

TestDISK was the BEST and took least time to Anaylse, finding exFAT structure, then writing to the SD the Partition which restored everything.

  • 1
    I chose type FAT32 for my EXFAT file system, and TestDISK recovered all of my files. Thanks.
    – afelaho
    Dec 2, 2018 at 2:17
  • Please add the exact steps for TestDisk as my attempt to restore a RAWed exFAT primary partition using * for the first and D for the second partition (only valid combo) resulted in one single RAW partition. Nov 10 at 13:48

Corrupt exFAT partitions can currently only be repaired under Windows. It can be done by running chkdsk <partition letter>: /r on the exFAT partition you want to repair.

  • Do you know why though ?
    – elig
    Sep 1, 2022 at 17:32
  • @elig exFAT was developed by Microsoft, so it isn't too surprising that other operating systems don't have all the exFAT utilities Windows gets... However, considering the supposed universality of this file system, this is definitely a very questionable approach by Microsoft, although exFAT, while not a very robust file system, usually doesn't corrupt on DRAM-less storage, like SD cards and thumb drives, which it was designed for.
    – damian101
    Aug 23 at 14:29
  • @damian101 As exFAT was not supported on a Smart TV, i resized the 16 GB partition on my USB drive to add a 5 GB FAT partition, after which my exFAT somehow turned to RAW and TestDisk destroyed the FAT32 one as well (* and D being the only "ok" settings). Nov 10 at 13:44

"change back the file system to exFat without having to format it" ... actually, you formated it to ext2. So there is a good chance, that the old "underlying" exFAT is fairly broken, even after a good recovery.

Try and have a look at http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

  • I have used Testdisk ... even from the beginning while trying to solve the first problem with my OS. Did a Deep Scan but didn't really find what I was looking for. I actually did find a partition on the same sector but what I wanted to know is, if I only select that partition to recover, would it overwrite all the others? Like would I loose all of other partitions?
    – Wandyer
    Dec 15, 2012 at 14:25
  • There is no easy answer to this. Testdisk does propose to recover partitions and tells you where the recovered partition will begin and end. Check carefully, whether there is some overlapping with existing stuff or not. From experience, it should not destroy other partitions, but it is absolutely not a "save" operation. If you have the chance, backup the data from your complete hard drive before you perform any further steps. EDIT: You could post the diagnostics output of testdisk and what it proposes into your initial question here for analysis.
    – s-m-e
    Dec 15, 2012 at 14:50
  • I've done a deeper search and it found 2 partitions on the same sectors but both were still as ext2. Data Recovery Softwares will show, I believe, all of my files but the only problem is that they are not with their original directories, just as RAW files. I will try to upload more picture of what Testdisk shows.
    – Wandyer
    Dec 17, 2012 at 22:35

Background—every partition in a partition table has a number that identifies its contents, whether the table is MBR or GPT format or others:

This allows tools to quickly identify what is supposed to be on the partition without a lengthy heuristic inspection process. You can quickly change this type to be correct (or incorrect) with a partitioning/disk editor tool. It's only a number.

Somewhat obviously, this is a separate concern as to what the actual on-partition filesystem format is.

Change the type number, reboot, and you'll find out quickly if your OS is happy with the result or not.

  • "This tool"? What tool? Sep 22 at 21:00
  • 1
    Every tool. I've never seen a partitioning tool without the ability to set the partition type. Well, probably early versions of DOS fdisk in ancient times didn't. Sep 23 at 0:37

Nov 2023. Linux Support

There exists a tool exfatprogs that can be used with Linux to fix exFat filesystem natively!

## Example for ubuntu 22.04 LTS
# install 
sudo apt-get install exfatprogs

# run command to fix filesystem errors
fsck.exfat -r /dev/sda1

# Note: /dev/sda1 should be replaced by your device identifier

Reference for a complete list of available options Hope that helps!

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