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Firstly, I am terribly sorry if this is a duplicate, but I couldn't find a similar issue to mine, so here goes.

I have a 1TB hdd bought around 8 months ago used as backup hard drive. I have not used the drive for a period of time whatsoever, and when I was trying to get back to some files on it, it was completely wiped just like that. At first it would not boot I tried everything from command line chkdsk and filesystem recovery software to rebuilt it.

After a few attempts I managed to initialize it, at that time it was an achievement. The problems started when I tried to recover the data inside, I have used A LOT of software free and commercial software on both Mac and Windows, with the help of cmd or Terminal commands, however no data of any kind was recovered, even after leaving it thoroughly scan for around 9-10 hours all night sometimes longer, with no results at all.

I am somewhat desperate, I am usually good at retrieving data from corrupt hard drives, but this is not the case. Call me paranoid, but I do not want to give it to someone to fix it for me, as I have a lot of photos and personal stuff that I do not want anyone to see.

EDIT: Hello again, I have investigated my HD issue further and it is looking more and more like a corrup MFT and MFT Mirror, tried using TestDisk and no luck, as it seems that my MFT is overwritten when I formatted last and couldn't find or construct an older one. I've been looking online for a way to retrieve the old MFT back, again no luck. Any ideas? Thanks

  • "a lot of" might not help much - is this drive internal or external? What files system? What tools specifically have you used so far? – Journeyman Geek Aug 23 '14 at 3:57
  • oh sorry forgot to mention that, its an external WD Elements 1TB with NTFS filesystem, thank you for replying quickly :) – Hippy-Head Aug 23 '14 at 4:00
  • one sec let me list them, Active@ Partition Recovery, Data Rescue3 for Mac, TestDisk win n mac and Recuva, those are the one I can remember and didnt uninstall – Hippy-Head Aug 23 '14 at 4:04
  • You mentioned that you've used TestDisk. Did you follow the step-by-step guide to the letter? Did you perform a Deeper search? – Vinayak Aug 23 '14 at 4:44
  • I have tried, but guess I didnt understand them fully plus it took super long to finish a deep search took more than 24 hour. I could always try again :) – Hippy-Head Aug 23 '14 at 5:14
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I have investigated my HD issue further and it is looking more and more like a corrup MFT and MFT Mirror, tried using TestDisk and no luck, as it seems that my MFT is overwritten when I formatted last and couldn't find or construct an older one. I've been looking online for a way to retrieve the old MFT back, again no luck. Any ideas? Thanks

Unfortunately, if the MFTs are gone (as they would be after reformatting) and recovery tools are failing to uncover anything, you are likely to be out of luck. The first rule of hard disk drive data recovery is to never overwrite the original; always make a copy (sector-level) before you start attempting recovery, and work with that copy, not touching the original. That way, if you screw up, you can just make a new copy and start over from scratch.

That is even more true if you do not want to hire someone knowledgable to do the work for you. Note that any serious data recovery service company is going to be working under strict confidentiality terms and may very well be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement with you if you feel your data is sensitive enough to warrant that. If it's just a regular photos collection then the people doing the work are likely to just pass over it without much of a second thought. Do note that professional data recovery services are not cheap, but if you care about your data and this is your only copy (as would seem to be implied by your working quite hard to recover it), that may be your best option at this point.

That's a point I find a bit curious, too, actually. You say that the drive in question has been "used as a backup drive"; I take it those are your backups (otherwise, the comment doesn't make a lot of sense). A backup by definition is not the only copy of something. So what stops you from just making a fresh copy of the working copy, perhaps to a new drive?

I have tried, but guess I didnt understand them fully plus it took super long to finish a deep search took more than 24 hour. I could always try again :)

Over 24 hours to finish a deep scan sounds long but not extreme. At 100 MB/s sequential read throughput (which is what most 7200 rpm drives can manage) it'll take a few hours to just have the drive read 1 TB of data from the platters. I'd hazard a guess that the drive might be connected over USB 2.0 which further limits the attainable throughput to something like half that (USB 2.0 can do 480 Mbit/s on the wire, so you might see something like 40 MB/s throughput tops in practice), doubling that time. Say eight to ten hours just to read the data sequentially off the platter. I'd also hazard a guess that a deep scan does more than a simple sequential read, which further reduces attainable performance due to IOPS constraints of the drive (which are primarily driven by seek and rotational latency).

  • Thank you for your reply. Well, the only reason I formatted was because I was trying to get the hard drive to initialize and haven't overwritten it with any file yet, hoping I could salvage my data. But now realising how much of a mistake I made by not cloning the hard drive and work with the copy. My data are not top secret tbh, they are mainly collection of stuff I have over the years, photos, uni work, anime, music and such. I was looking forward to restore the uni stuff as these are the most important right now, the rest is available somewhere else. by Backup I meant these stuff. :( – Hippy-Head Aug 27 '14 at 7:53

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