I've done the following (stupid) thing: I had to format a SD card on Vista. So I right clicked, then selected quick format.

Just a second afterwards I noticed that it was my USB HDD so I hit Cancel.

At the beginning the drive had its contents still intact or so it seemed. Vista said: "There could be errors on drive g: shall I check" and I hit faithfully pushed Yes. After the check it doesn't mount.

Is there anything I can do?

  • 2
    And did God give you an answer? I think the answer is "nothing". – pavium Nov 25 '09 at 10:33
  • Well, somethimes a reformat isn't a the end of the world. One can always try ;p – Journeyman Geek Dec 27 '09 at 10:04

The files are still there and can be recovered. Below are listed some utilities to recover files. Just remember when recuperating the files to copy them to another drive than the formatted one, since this will destroy the data.

Free utilities you can try are:


Recovery from damaged or formatted disks
Even if you've formatted a drive so that it looks blank, Recuva can still find your files on it.


DiskDigger can even scan reformatted or badly formatted disks (disks to which Windows can’t assign a drive letter), and even disks with bad sectors. It bypasses the Windows file system drivers and scans your disk directly.

PC INSPECTOR File Recovery 4

  • Finds partitions automatically, even if the boot sector or FAT has been erased or damaged
  • Recovers files with the original time and date stamp
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To the best of my knowledge, quick format only "resets" filesystem - that is, files and directories no longer "exist", but they are still on the disk.

I had some experience working with OnTrack data recovery utilities (back in the days of W2K to WinXP transition), and they seem to be highly capable. You could try a specialized utility to recover your data. The most important thing is to not perform any write-operations on that drive now. I believe some trial versions will let you see what is to be recovered before you buy the software.

Or, you could contact a specialized HDD data recovery center - these mostly exist for laptop HDDs, but they will be able to give you a definitive answer as to whether your data is still recoverable. Those services are not cheap, though.

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There are many data recovery applications available for download, either as trial versions, free, or paid. You might try some of those?

If you have a spare drive, you should consider doing a complete copy of the disk before you try anything else. Use a disk or partition management tool for that.

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In the exact same situation testdisk saved my bacon (and my data)

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