Recover files from HFS disk accidentally formatted to NTFS

Daniele Brunengo
Daniele Brunengo used Ask the Experts™
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So a customer accidentally formatted a 2TB hard drive to NTFS. I used the usual techniques to try a recovery but nothing worked (Testdisk, Ontrack).
After discussing with him it looks like the drive was previously HFS.

I was wondering if this new information can help me? I never tried a recovery from HFS but I don't think it should be very different with Testdisk.
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WakeupSpecialist 1

Commented:
You normally cannot read Mac-formatted drives and files on Windows computers. Usually, Windows will just erase and format the drive. That does not mean you cannot recover HFS partitions in Windows. You just need a third-party HFS disk recovery.

Try Paragon also to allow for the drive to be accessed/read as HFS or HFS+:
https://www.paragon-software.com/home/hfs-windows/?tracking=cj&x-aff=cj&x-cjevent=95bc0156d17c11e8832900b60a1c0e0e

They have a free trial period, I haven't used it in a long while, but at least you can see if you are able to see and acquire any data.
Also be aware that anything you do to this drive now, (repartition reformat copy data etc onto it) will give you less opportunity to recover any data.  So I would definitely not do anything to that drive but recover until you are satisfied you got everything or satisfied you have exhausted all options to recover and don't feel it necessary to continue.

Also focus on recovering the data you need.  Not everything might be wise.  Like you probably don't care about installed apps/programs/OS etc.  Data is priceless however apps and programs can be reinstalled or repurchased.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web Designer

Author

Commented:
Actually the drive is currently NTFS formatted. It was formatted by mistake. I have software allowing me to read MAC partitions on Windows, but what I need now is a software to recover data from a deleted HFS partition. Right now all I see is an empty NTFS partition.
Specialist 1
Commented:
I see.  Ok so you need software that will be able to search for HFS/HFS+ partitions on the drive.

https://www.r-studio.com/DataRecoverySoftware-Review/

To be honest it has been a good 8+ years since I have had to do any Recovery for anyone in a while.  HFS/HFS+ has been at a minimal for more than that.

But I do know that there used to be software that would search for various partition formats.

See my link for some reviews of various software and maybe try some of the demo ones so you can see if they detect the erased partition and able to see some files.
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Have you tried HFSExplorer?

http://www.catacombae.org/hfsexplorer/

If you are able to mount the drive, you might be able to recover files.

Can't try since I don't have any HFS drives.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
is that an external drive??  if possible, try connecting it directly to sata cable for recovery
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web Designer

Author

Commented:
It was external, but I've connected it via sata cable. Right now I'm scanning with Testdisk for HFS+ lost partitions. It's going to take ages.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
yes - depending on disk size and the existing problems it finds
WakeupSpecialist 1

Commented:
Yes unfortunately data recovery can take days and maybe even weeks depending on how extensive your scan is to detect the erased/formatted HFS partition.  If it wasn't a 'long' format, it could be sooner rather than later.  But in any case it does take time.  

Keep us informed on your progress.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web Designer

Author

Commented:
Ok. I'm at 25% after about 16 hours.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
that's not too bad to start with (i have run recovery on a 500 GB disk for 2-3weeks....)
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web Designer

Author

Commented:
Did the whole bit, managed to recover some files but not the photos and stuff. Guess there's nothing more I can do. Thanks guys.
WakeupSpecialist 1

Commented:
Sorry you were unable to get everything back.  If you are still interested in trying other software you may have other opportunities to find stuff that is missing.   Obviously don't do anything to the drive until you are satisfied that you can't get anything else or your client is satisfied.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web Designer

Author

Commented:
I tried 4 different softwares, they all gave basically the same results. So I guess that's it.
WakeupSpecialist 1

Commented:
Of course the other alternative is to send it off for data recovery if everything you've done has been exhausted.  If the customer is dissatisfied with what has been acquired.  If they understand and are satisfied (for the amount of time and money it will cost them), then yep, that's it.

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