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Accidental drive format when installing new XP OS


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#1
red_tina

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:) Hi - my husband is in the dog house, but maybe you can help get him out. He purchased a 2nd drive for the gateway and a new version of XP. He was going to set up a dual drive config, and put the OS on the new drive , keeping data and apps on the original drive.

He put in the XP OS cds and started the install. He got the prompt - do you want to format. He said yes, it then asked "Quick Format" or "Regular Format". He picked regular and formatted the drive with all our data and applications :tazz: He forgot to disconnect the drive and thought he was formatting the new 2nd drive. No we don't have backups.

My question is: does a regular format do a 'low level format'? I want to buy some off the shelf software and try to recover the files. I'm hoping we just wiped out the FAT tables, and didn't do a 'low level' format.

Does anyone know? And can anyone recommend good recovery software? We went to a recovery company and they want $1600 for the 80GB drive.

Thanks in advance!
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#2
computerwiz12890

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Hello and welcome to Geeks to Go.

I wince in pain for you :tazz: . I'm not sure what's classified as a "low-level format", but a regular format overwrites the data. A quick format erases the table-of-contents. So I assume your data is lost to conventional methods and it will be necessary to send your HD off for recovery.

However, if you'd like to try to recover your stuff anyway, here's 2 free programs you can use. The quicker one is first, but from personal experience it has a few issues. The second one would take longer to restore everything, but it works fine:

PC Inspector File Recovery
Restoration

Just cuz they're free doesn't mean they're not that good. You'll get almost the same results from a restoration program that you'd have to buy. And remember, don't install or put anything on the hard drive with the data you want recovered. This will decrease your chances of a successful recovery.

Let me know how it goes.

Edited by computerwiz12890, 30 November 2005 - 02:04 PM.

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#3
dsenette

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it's not possible to do a low level format at your home....without some heavy electronic equipmentEDIT: misuse of terms...sorry...a lowlevel format is also known as a zerofill...and is usually accomplished by...well..filling the drive with zeros.. ...and as compwiz said....the quick format basically removes all the pointers and allows the natural progression of refilling the drive, erase the data.....the full format....removes the pointers and overwrites the data

Edited by dsenette, 30 November 2005 - 03:32 PM.

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#4
Neil Jones

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A regular format is commonly known as a high-level format. You may be lucky and may be able to retrieve some stuff from it providing the XP installation hasn't already overwritten the sectors in question.

A low level format is ultimately not possible to do accidentally. Plus you'd know about it, because you'd have to format the drive twice - once for low level and again for high level to be able to store stuff on it.
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#5
red_tina

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On some recovery software sites, they say their products can recover from quick and standard formats, but not low level formats. Here is what I found

<snip>
Quick Format enables you to quickly format a disk, by simply initializing the directory entry information in the root directory area and the FAT information. The data area during this proves to be still intact.

On the other hand, Standard Format examines the data area, and maps the bad sectors. Since each sector head must be read to determine whether it is bad, the process takes a substantial amount of time. If a bad sector is detected, clusters in that sector are marked in the FAT to prevent them from future usage. However, just like quick format, full format does not overwrite the data area, and the data content is preserved.

Finally, Low-Level Format modifies the surface molecule arrangement, initializes the entire disk, and records sector identifiers to each track (creating addresses to identify sectors within each track). All of the data contained in the disk is initialized, preventing any future recovery attempts.
<Snip>

So I'm hoping (I'm trying to be optimistic here) we did a 'standard format' and I should go ahead and try to recover the data from home using software.
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#6
computerwiz12890

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Go ahead and try the two programs that I've suggested. Let us know how it goes.
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