Software to reover data on a formatted hard drive?

Posted on 2008-06-18
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I formatted a laptop yesterday, and even thought the person I was helping told me everything was backed up, it apparently was not all backed up.  I have software tools I have purchased in the past that recover deleted files (assuming they have not been over written), but I am pretty sure they don't work if the hard disk has been wiped clean...i.e. reformatted.  The laptop had Windows XP pro on it before, and I simply formatted and reloaded Windows XP pro again, but I need to see if there are any tools I can use to try and recover data.

Question by:jbobst
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Accepted Solution

torimar earned 500 total points
ID: 21815204
You may want to try out Runtime's GetDataBack (http://www.runtime.org) or Partition Recovery (http://www.partition-recovery.com).

Both I think have free demos.
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Assisted Solution

michko earned 500 total points
ID: 21816548
I've had good results with Restorer 2000 (www.restorer2000.com), and it's free (not a demo).
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Expert Comment

ID: 21816902
Sorry to say, michko, but I followed your link in order to check out Restorer 2000 and I can't see any version of it that would be free: http://www.bitmart.net/buy.shtml
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 21817796
I will be dipped in ..., well, let's leave that out.

They put out a new version, and as torimar pointed out - it's not free.  I know the earlier version worked great on NTFS machines, must have decided to charge when they made it Vista compatible.  

jbobst - my apologies for saying it was free - it's a demo just like the other suggestion.  I haven't used the new pay version, so couldn't really give an honest recommendation.

torimar - nice catch.


Author Comment

ID: 21818047
I already had an older version of Restorer 2000, but it can't find anything prior to the format.  I also tried the GetDataBack software, and it can't find anything either.  These programs are great if you just delete files or something like that, but actually removed the old partitions and formatted the hard disk from the Windows XP boot cd.  Doesn't appear that anything is left to be found.

Thanks for the help.
LVL 35

Expert Comment

ID: 21818311
Believe me, michko, I wasn't trying to get you, just trying to get myself a nice free recovery tool for my collection ;)

As to the problem at hand:
After carefully checking reviews and descriptions of most of the recovery and forensic software I can remember, I'm compelled to say that I don't expect anything to be that much better than what you already tested, jbobst. I recall having used Winternals Disk Commander many years ago with good success, but I'm not at all sure whether this was to retrieve data from a formatted drive. And even if it was: I now learned that Microsoft bought that firm in 2006 and the tools were ... discontinued.

Here's the only suggestion left for me to come up with: QueTek's "File Scavenger"

"File Scavenger® can also recover files from a reformatted or corrupted volume even when the volume has been deleted and its original position and size are unknown. File Scavenger® can scan an entire physical hard drive to look for traces of defunct volumes."

Good luck.

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