I was running Ubuntu 14.10 with 3 NTFS disks that I used for data storage. So I decided to change the operating system back to Windows 8 and 2 of the disks I was able to read however the third disk showed up as uninitialized in disk management which I for some stupid reason initialized.

I know now that if I had just booted with say Ubuntu live I could have accessed the data in that 3rd disk and copied the data over to one of the other disks alas that is now not an option. My question: is there any way to undo the initialization of the disk to fix the MBR/GPT back to it’s previous state or alternatively fix it in another way?

1 Answer 1


The short answer is, it depends.

If it was MBR based partitioning, and if by "initialize" you mean you only changed the partition table, and did not (re)create filesystems on the changed partitions, then it IS possible (but risky) to fix. I have had success with this in the past but you need precise record of the start cylinder, end cylinder, and partition type of all the partitions from before. If you recreate those exactly with fdisk, then the mount command with the correct filesystem type can work and you'd have no lost data.

If you (re)created filesystems on the changed partitions (i.e. formatted), then you've lost at least all your folder structure and filenames. You'll need some data recovery tools (from a live CD or moving the disk to a secondary computer) and they'll scan the "unused" portions (unused from the new filesystem's point of view) of the disk and try to piece together fragments of files from the old filesystem. You'll only get back some fraction of all your files but if you're lucky it'll include the most important ones.

If it was GPT based partitioning then I don't know the equivalent steps or if it is even possible.

I'd also be concerned as to why the third disk showed up as uninitialized in the first place.

  • The why of the drive showing uninitialized is because Windows, on seeing a partition in a format it can't read, tells the user it's blank.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 9, 2015 at 15:22
  • @ZeissIkon okay but the OP said all three disks were initially NTFS. Jan 9, 2015 at 15:44
  • Which doesn't prevent Windows being unable to read a partition.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 9, 2015 at 16:45
  • @MartinMoops I did not format the disk only initialized. And I think the reason as to why only this disk not being readable by windows was due to the way it was formatted in Ubuntu. I vaguely remember using a different method to format it to ntfs as opposed to the other 2 disks even though they were formatted to NTFS. I think I used both "Gparted" and "Disks" so probably why it only affected one drive. Anyway how would I fix it using fdsik (could I use diskpart since I'm running win 8.1)? And how would I get the precise record of the start and end cylinder.
    – Arben
    Jan 9, 2015 at 16:50
  • @ZeissIkon ya true but it is still concerning. Three disks described (initially) the same, why would the third behave differently. The OP has clarified that a little now, maybe the NTFS was put directly on the full disk without partitioning, or could be indicative of some other problem, disk beginning to fail, etc, which is why it is concerning. Jan 9, 2015 at 17:13

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