Help me save my data!
August 10, 2015 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I need help restoring data from a hard drive I accidentally wiped

I was trying to create system recovery media for my PC (windows 10 in case that matters). Instead of selecting the flash drive I'd connected specifically for that purpose, I selected my external hard drive when it asked me to select a disk on which to create recovery media. It warned me that this would erase all data on the drive, to which I clicked "Yes", only to realize within about half a second that I'd selected the wrong drive and hit cancel immediately.

Unfortunately, despite there being literally less than 2 seconds between when I hit ok and cancel, when I connect the drive to my PC it no longer is recognized in my file browser.

However, it does show up when I look in device manager under devices installed, but shows that it has no volumes on it when I look at the details. I am given the option to "populate" a volume, but I haven't done that yet for fear of causing further damage.

Given the less than 2 seconds before I hit cancel, I highly doubt that all of the 300 or so gigabytes of data was completely erased - at least that's what I'm hoping.

I need to know how to get this drive to be visible to my computer, so that I can then get file recovery software to look at it to try to recover what files are left.

What steps should I take to try to make this happen?
posted by tokaidanshi to Technology (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You're right; your data is still there. You'll need a program that can scan the drive and find the files. Best case, only the partition map was erased and things should be relatively easy to recover. Somewhat worse would be if the beginning of the partition was erased. Some of your files would be lost, and recovering the intact ones won't be so easy. But it is doable. There are several programs that can do the recovery. I've used Isobuster In the past with good results. There is also PhotoRec, which is free, but it isn't as straightforward to use.
posted by zsazsa at 8:01 PM on August 10, 2015

I've had good results from ZAR after this kind of disaster.

And of course, once you've got most of your stuff back, you'll be backing it up from this day forward, yes?
posted by flabdablet at 9:26 PM on August 10, 2015

testdisk, every time.

watch out, it's dense, and the instructions are byzantine... but it works GREAT.
posted by emptythought at 12:35 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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