People I am looking for elegant and safe solution for situation like below:

  1. You have USB HDD formatted as ext3/ext4 (~2TB)

  2. You plugged in this disk to computer with Windows and by mistake do 'initiate as GPT disk' without formatting to any FS

initiate as GPT disk

  1. As result Linux system see empty not formatted disk

What is the best option recovery files with structure? If it's not safe what is the best software for low level recovery ext3/ext4 that you may recommend?


2 Answers 2


TestDisk (Windows/Mac/Linux) is a free open source partition scanner and data recovery tool. It is very useful in recovering lost partitions. TestDisk can:

  • Fix partition table, recover deleted partition
  • Recover FAT32 boot sector from its backup
  • Rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector
  • Fix FAT tables
  • Rebuild NTFS boot sector
  • Recover NTFS boot sector from its backup
  • Copy files from deleted FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2/ext3/ext4 partitions

If TestDisk is unable to recover the deleted partition, you will need another partition that has 2TB of available disk space, for example another 2TB hard drive.

When TestDisk is launched it will display an interactive procedure. To recover the files and the folder structure open TestDisk -> choose a hard drive to recover -> select the partition table type -> select Advanced -> select a drive partition -> select Undelete -> tell TestDisk where to copy the undeleted data to.

  • Karel, thank you for recommendation. I tried quick and deep search (with Intel partition type) that list me all partitions but most relative partition is empty and have lost+found folder only. Currently I'm analyzing HDD again as GPT partition type. Hope it will able to build correct structure. Jul 21, 2017 at 6:43
  • Unfortunately testdisk was not able to restore files from formatted ext4 partition. Jul 24, 2017 at 11:51

I was able to get my data back using UFS Explorer

  • Scan for partitions (~18h/2TB)
  • Get file list (~1h/2TB)
  • Restore process (~24h/2TB)

P.S.: In most cases Standard version will be more than enough.

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