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Retrieve data from Formatted Disk

Posted on 2004-10-25
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-01-09

I have installed windows XP on my pc.
Before i had Win98. Now by installing windows XP i lost all my pictures
that were on windows 98.
Is it possible to retrieve those pictures??
I had FAT32 partition in WIN98 but now it is NTFS.
Is it possible to find FAT32 files when the harddisk is now NTFS??
Thank you for you're reply

Kind regards
Question by:winklerrobert
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Expert Comment

ID: 12398679

If you re-formatted the disk, which involves writiing to all of the blocks on the disk, in a word, NO.

When you formatted the disk, and then you installed Windows XP, you probably wrote a good percentage of the disk twice:

- Once when it was formatted
- The second time when you installed XP.

Since XP is significantly larger than 98, it is unlikely that anything survived.

This is not an iron-clad statement, however. If you also re-partitioned the disk, and the new partition is in a different region of the disk than the old one, the bits may still be there, but it will be a difficult file retrieval process, with no guarantee of success.

Sorry for the very high probabilty of unwelcome news.

- Bob (aka RLGSC)
LVL 15

Accepted Solution

Cyber-Dude earned 600 total points
ID: 12398700
Try using the following:
Restoration (Freeware):

Or Active Undelete (a very powerful software but not free of charge):

Good luck...

LVL 18

Assisted Solution

luv2smile earned 200 total points
ID: 12399826
The basic behind data restoration is this: All data remains on a drive until it is written over. So doing a format does not completely erase a drive. The data is still there scattered across the hard drive in bits until it is written over piece by piece.

But the problem is (as others have stated) that you installed xp whcih writes over much of the drive and the fact that you have used the computer as well....every thing you do on the computer from starting it up to saving a file, etc...writes over pieces of data. So keep in mind that the more you use the computer, the less you'll be able to recover. Now the chance you have of actually recoverning full images off of the computer I would agree with the others and say it is very slim. There are probably bits of data across the drive that have not been written over, but if even a complete image could be recovered from all those bits is very uncertain.

You can use the programs mentioned above or search online for many others to try. But remember, even installing them onto the same computer will overwrite data on that comptuer. So I would say try and see if you can get anything, but realize that there is a good chance you won't.
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LVL 15

Assisted Solution

Cyber-Dude earned 600 total points
ID: 12400071
If the drive is large than the capacity of the OS wont take much in direct relation to the drive's capacity. Formatting will not take place for the entier drive but only within its inner part where the FS is located thus leaving all information readable through any FS reconstruction software.


Expert Comment

ID: 12404750
I have a lot a luck with "Get Data Back" GDB - you can download a trial version at:


Expert Comment

ID: 12406604
I find that even after several formats, data can still be recovered. My present rescue tool is Active@Undelete V5.1, which can handle hard drives up to 400 gb. I usually put problem hard drive in an external USB 2.0 case and recover files to my own computer. In several cases, I have recovered more then the rated capacity as it finds data from previous installs/formats. I have found it best to convert hard drive to one NTFS partition as then I can find data over entire drive. Recovering music & picture files has proven much easier then system files. I use wildcards to copy those files I am looking for as you can end up with many thousands of folders. Undelete recovers all copies of same files, but it renumbers each, so you can check each copy to get one you are looking for. The money was best investment I ever made as I have recovered over a dozen systems using it. Time and a large amount of free space are all that are required. Just my 2 cents worth.

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