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Need help regarding formatted files

by duality88 / December 12, 2012 12:42 PM PST

Hi everyone,

Just finished formatting my laptop drive due to slowness possibly caused by spyware. Before doing said action I partitioned the main drive (C:) and created a 2nd backup drive (D:) using some tools in Windows 7's control panel.

Before formatting my drive I put all my important files (from the downloads folder, desktop, and the libraries) from there previous locations from C to new folders w/ the same name in D.

After re-formatting the drive and re-installation of Windows 7 all the files I had (important docs, pics, and mp3s/mp4s) in my library were gone. I've spent all day trying to retrieve the files ("free" software recovery programs, reading forums) however I can't seem to get them back.

Any suggestions, advices?

Thanks, Joseph Happy ps - sorry for the long post. had to detail my actions so it would be clear

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Re: C: & D: drives
by mchainmchain / December 12, 2012 5:52 PM PST

If you really want your old files back, stop!

Reason you must stop working on recovery of your personal data is because every time your run any recovery software, you are risking the possibility of never recovering the missing files you seek as hard drive operations will always overwrite what it thinks are empty data areas. These empty data areas may in fact, contain all or parts of the missing files, but overwriting operations will make them lost forever.

Best recourse and solution is to use It is not free, but routine data backup to other backup media is much cheaper. We cannot lose what we backup. Sad

What happened here appears to be that drive D: was on the same hard drive as drive C: Your strategy of saving your backup files would have worked only if:

-You used another separate hard drive and named that D:
-You used CD or DVD or Blu-Ray discs to backup your files.
-You used an USB flash drive to backup your files.

When you formatted your single and main drive containing both C: and D: on the same hard drive, the format did what it was told to do, and formatted both C: and D: and both partitions were lost. Result: All data on drive D: was lost. Re-installing Windows on the newly created partition did not help matters either.

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Re: formatted
by Kees_B Forum moderator / December 12, 2012 6:42 PM PST

In your subject line, you write about formatted FILES.
In your post, you write about formatting the DRIVE.

Both are wrong. You don't format a file, and you don't format a drive. You format a partition. That's c: or d:.

So it's quite unclear what you formatted and how you formatted it.
And it's unclear how you re-installed Windows 7.

All I can say: if you run the re-install of Windows 7 from the original Microsoft issued Windows 7 install DVD and you tell it you want to install it on the c:-partition and to format it before installing, it wouldn't touch the d:,even if it's on the same physical disk.

So maybe you did something wrong. But we can't tell, since you didn't detail what you did.


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Verify drive partitions
by tumbleweed_biff / December 12, 2012 7:26 PM PST

Hello Joseph,

Click "Start" --> Right click "Computer" --> Left Click "Manage" --> Click "Disk Management"

Look at "Disk 0". How many partitions does it show?
Normally, a clean install of Windows 7 on a bare drive will have 2 partitions: a "System Reserved" partition with no drive letter assigned and then a "C:" partition filling the rest of the space.

In your case, you are hoping to see 2 or 3 partitions: you may or may not have the "System Reserved" partition (basically 100 meg in size); the C: partition; and hopefully an additional partition to the right of the C:.

If you do not have a partition to the right of the C:, most likely you accidentally repartitioned the drive when you reinstalled windows, deleting the backup partition you created and all the data you stored there. The odds are not good of recovering the data at this point.

If you DO have a partition to the right of the C: partition, then you should be safe. Does it have a drive letter assigned? Also, what is its status? Is it a Primary partition? That may well be the problem. You can only see one primary partition at a time. If you do have this extra partition and it does not have a drive letter, try Right clicking on the partition. Does it offer the option to "Change Drive Letter or Path"? If not, I expect your best bet will be to take this drive and attach it to another machine as a slave so it is not booting from the C: partition. Then, using the same Computer Management app (Start --> Right click "Manage"), assign this partition a drive letter and then copy the files off of it to the second computer. Once you have copied all of your files from the partition, within the Disk Management, Right Click and delete this volume.

If you were to use a command line FDisk-type utility, you would have to create an Extended partition and then create a Logical partition within the Extended partition. I believe that the DiskManagement Wizard does this automatically when you create a "New Simple Volume". On the now unallocated space, Right-Click and choose "New Simple Volume". Follow the rest of the wizard. Most likely you want to use all the free space, format NTFS, give the volume some name (like "Data") and assign a drive letter (like D:). Once formatted, it will get a drive letter. You should then be able to copy the files back onto the new simple/logical partition, put your drive back into the original machine, boot as normal, and you should now have a D: drive with your files as you wanted them.

Alternatively, you could, after copying the files from to the temporary machine and deleting the partition, you could extend the C: partition of the drive to fill the unallocated space, making it one partition again, and then copy the files back to the drive in their original places.

Let us know what you find using DiskManagement (also accessible by entering diskmgmt.msc in the "Run" window.)

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Need help on how to retrieve files deleted by formatting
by duality88 / December 12, 2012 11:07 PM PST

Thanks for the replies! I wanted to change the title and make edits however it looks like it is not allowed. Well anyway, to make things more clear:

I had 1 hard drive (C:) on my laptop. Most of my important files were located in the "Libraries" folder. However, due to a virus that I couldn't remove I decided to format my laptop's drive and reinstall windows.

Before doing so I made a new partition (D:) which would be the destination of my files. After doing so I copied the Libraries folder as well as the contents of the "Downloads" and "Desktop" folder from C: to D: then double checked if they were copied. Then afterwards I formatted C:. To my surprise the contents of the Libraries folder in D: were empty, the other 2 (Desktop and Downloads) were fine though.

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by duality88 / December 12, 2012 11:16 PM PST

Forgot to add that I think my files got erased when I partitioned C: because I just copied the "libraries" folder from C: to D: instead of copying files from the sub-folders (Documents, Music, Pictures, etc.). Was told of the confusing nature of the Libraries folder.

Also, was told about the potential risk of "free" recovery softwares so I will stop them now. They're also too complicated to use. Don't want to pay for data recovery at least as of now.

Will look for other options.

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My guess:
by Kees_B Forum moderator / December 12, 2012 11:41 PM PST
In reply to: addtl

Libraries just contain pointers to something else (folders). No files, no data. So if you copy a library, you copy just the pointers, not the files. So if you delete the folders they point to, they have nothing to show anymore. The originals are gone. You lost them. A library isn't a folder.

I'll try it later. Copy a library that 'contains' a few GB of data to a smaller USB-stick. If that works, it proves that the data isn't copied.

Is that what you have been told about the confusing nature of the Libraries folder? Then they were right.

Nothing better to keep your data than a good backup. Copying the library seems not a backup at all. Another interesting lesson to learn about backups.


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Seems on target
by tumbleweed_biff / December 13, 2012 6:52 AM PST
In reply to: My guess:

I expect Kees_B is correct, that you didn't actually copy the files but rather, essentially, made a shortcut to the files/folders on your D: drive which was simply pointing back at the C: drive.

There are a couple of ways to avoid this type of problem in the future:
a) ALWAYS make a backup. Not only are flash drives big and cheap these days (32 gig for around $20) but HDD's are pretty cheap too. For less than a tank of gas, you can buy a multi-hundred to 1TB HDD and an external USB/eSATA caddy and copy all of your data over pretty easily.

b) Keep a 2nd drive on hand which you use to either store a complete image of the drive you are about to rebuild or, simply install the 2nd drive and perform your clean install, keeping your original drive completely intact until you have confirmed that everything has installed completely/correctly and you have all your data.

c) Instead of copying, do a move->cut/paste. It doesn't get deleted from the source until it has been successfully copied to the destination.

d) In my book, nothing beats a command prompt where you get to see any error messages ...
XCOPY <SOURCE Directory>\*.* <TARGET Directory> /E /V /H
/E copies subdirectories, including empty ones
/V performs a verify
/H copies hidden and system files

(The newer version is ROBOCOPY ...)

Xcopy has yet to fail me in over 20 years ...

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I have Libraries but in a My Document Folder
by DChrisL / December 17, 2012 11:52 AM PST
My Music, Pictures, Zoned Out, and setups for Light Scribe. I saved that in a flashdrive, that way I can reinstall it after formatting. when I reinstall using Recovery Media from HP, I would have 3 drives; C:, D: and one for the card reader.
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