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I have recently accidentally deleted the partition table on a Seagate BarraCuda 1TB HDD, and rebuilt MBR then created a new partition and (quick) formatted it, how did I do it?

I recently bought a Samsung 870 QVO 1TB SSD and during the process to partition it using DiskGenius I mistakenly chose the HDD (they have the same size)...

I have installed a working Windows 10 OS to it, and installed many programs, and I downloaded and stored many installers on it, its filesystem is NTFS and it spans entire HDD (minus a few megabytes occupied by EFI system partition) I wanted to migrate the installation to the SSD but now...

There wasn't filesystem corruptions, and the HDD contains no bad sectors, the HDD hadn't been written to since, so the data shouldn't have been overwritten, however the partition table and master boot record are gone, increases the difficulty of data recovery.

But I understand erasing the MBR and Partition Table only erase the index of the data, not the data itself, and quick format doesn't overwrite data, so theoretically and practically the data shouldn't be lost.

But of course, this process often costs a lot money, and I don't want to spend money just yet, and I don't know the reliability of the free programs I can find on the web, so what free (and preferably open source) data recovery program I can try to recover data after formatting and repartitioning?

I am using Windows 10 x64 though I have also installed Fedora 33 x64 to another disk.


In fact all the data stored in the partition are downloadable from the internet, however I don't remember fully what I have downloaded to the HDD, so I don't actually need to recover the files, but I need to view the list of the files.

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I used early versions of this tool a long time ago:

GetDataBack for NTFS

It always worked well on quick-formatted media. However, back then it was not cheap.

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I have had success with photorec (https://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec). It is free as in freedom (and as in beer). It will recover files - it cannot restore the disk.

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  • I had researched photorec, and it looks like that photorec automatically recovers all files without giving you ability to choose which files to be recovered, which isn't what I wanted; Thanks to your answer anyway. – Xeнεi Ξэnвϵς Mar 21 at 2:44
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If all that happened was partition deletion or damage to partition table then:

Things look bright. You are correct in this case nothing happened to your data or even the file system. If you like living on the edge you can even attempt to undelete the partition although that's a big no-no in data recovery.

Or, extract all data and copy it to another drive.

To undelete partition in-place easiest is probably a tool like DMDE, the free version can do this.

Pay the $20 license fee and it will allow you to copy your data to safety instead.

If you quick-formatted the drive then it depends:

  • HDD or SSD. If HDD you can attempt recovery. If SSD your data is probably 'trimmed' and unrecoverable (by end user software).
  • File system matters too! If for example NTFS you can probably recover all data including folder structure and filenames. NTFS allows recovery of fragmented files too. With FAT32 or exFAT fragmented files are a problem. Some other (Linux) file systems may only allow for raw recovery which means filenames and folder structure are lost.

Again a tool like DMDE may be all you need as it supports most common file systems. The free version allows you to try: you can recover 4000 files each time you run it as long as these are in one folder.

Some final remarks

A true data recovery technician will always first clone a drive even if his only intention is to extract data from the patient drive. Cloning is certainly recommended if you plan on undeleting partitions in-place although DMDE allows you to undo.

DMDE can be intimidating to 'beginners' and it can write to patient drive, and this is something you need to consider. For example ReclaiMe and R-Studio are more expensive, but are much easier to use (specially ReclaiMe).

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