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Recover data from formatted and reinstalled drive

by judgew / February 11, 2008 11:37 PM PST

I recently formatted a partition of my NTFS drive using windows xp setup and reinstalled XP Pro and all my software. What I failed to do was backup all my emails from Mozilla thunderbird and I really really need them. Through windows setup, I deleted the system partition, created a new one in its place and formatted it (slow format), and then reinstalled XP Pro and all my software.

I've tried using "Recover My Files" and "Get Data Back" but all it seems to recover are newly created matter which mode I use.

Is all hope lost for my emails or is there some way I can still retrieve them?


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All hope is lost.
by Kees Bakker / February 11, 2008 11:44 PM PST

Most people make a regular backup of everything they really really might need some time later, just to protect themselves from disk crashes, accidental deletes and overwrites, virus damage, files corrupted by program errors and things like that.
Not really difficult to copy data to an external hard disk, nowadays, as a basic precaution.

Those that don't risk losing data, as you noticed.


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It's gone
by Jimmy Greystone / February 11, 2008 11:44 PM PST

You might have some luck if you sent the drive off to recovery specialists, so you'll have to decide if those emails are worth about $2,000USD.

Whatever you decide, this should be an valuable lesson about creating backups of important data. Generally people only suffer some sort of major catastrophe like this once before they become almost religious about their backups.

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by judgew / February 12, 2008 12:59 AM PST
In reply to: It's gone

in my defense I did use MozBackup to backup my Thunderbird profiles and mail only it failed to backup my mail.

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Sorry to read that.
by Kees Bakker / February 13, 2008 6:28 PM PST
In reply to: thanks

Find a better backup tool!


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The Very BEST backup!
by thebug / February 16, 2008 7:57 AM PST
In reply to: Sorry to read that.

Install a second hard drive for your backups! I use one and have NEVER lost anything I have backed to it!!!! Also use Norton Ghost (the only thing Norton has that doesn't screw things up!) to create an Ghost image of my C: drive on occasion. A second drive is the ONLY real way to save your data.
Just my experience!

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We all hope that second drive ...
by Edward ODaniel / February 16, 2008 10:34 AM PST
In reply to: The Very BEST backup!

is not your ONLY backup because hard drives fail and often without any previous indication of problems.

If it is in or connected to your computer when lightning strikes or when someone breaks in and takes the computer or in event of fire or flood all your data is gone.

A hard drive is TEMPORARY storage (handy, but temporary) and should be backed up with WORM media such as DVD-/+ R or CD-R and if the data has any value to you additional copies should be kept off site.

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by thebug / May 9, 2008 9:30 PM PDT

Well after 10+ years backing up to my second drive I've never had a it fail ! I think it's because it's not used all the time , but it really works for me. And how would you backup 80Gb of data to a dvd?

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then you are lucky and I do ...
by Edward ODaniel / May 10, 2008 5:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Really

hope that when your backup hard drive does fail irreplacable data is not totally lost. I have, over the years, lost several hard drives to catastrophic failure and while most were a few years old, two Western Digital drives and a Quantum all died within a few months after installation. This is NOT unique, most serious, long time computer users will have had similar experiences.

A second drive is not a backup, it is a COPY of data and while admittedly handy in the event of an inadvertent deletion or file overwrite it is subject to data loss.

How does one back up 80 GB of data? I use both an online backup via FTP and incremental backups to DVDs. Incremental backups backup only that which has changed - it doesn't consume much space and the DVD backups are insurance against total server failure AND the server's backup too.

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Norton Ghost
by thebug / May 10, 2008 6:12 AM PDT

When I use this and it WORKS. I can backup a drive to another no problem. That is Norton Ghost 2003. I've had NO luck with newer versions! Also use High Compression in the options menu when asked.

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More info
by thebug / May 10, 2008 6:14 AM PDT

This is "Norton Ghost 2003" not Norton backup! Works WAY better!

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Norty ghost
by tedtks / February 16, 2008 4:50 PM PST
In reply to: The Very BEST backup!

funny u shud mention that, because I used it -once- and it would not
do its thing.
I wanted to copy the 10g c: patition to a second HD with an identical
10g patition and it told me there was not enuf space.
there is less than 7g on the c: partion. everything was cleaned out
before I started, and I only allow 2g for the pagefile.
go figure.
spent 2 days ininstalling and cleanup after norty's poor uninstaller.
I know lots of people seem to like it - but after 3 tries and a few
emails with no reasonable answers - its just one more reason it dont
do norty stuff.

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by Jimmy Greystone / February 13, 2008 11:41 PM PST
In reply to: thanks

Testing of your backups is just as important as making them in the first place. You ALWAYS want to test that your backups are good, especially if you're planning on doing something destructive, like formatting, shortly after.

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Closer to 26,000 bucks.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 11, 2008 11:55 PM PST

I can share that a hospital where a friend works paid 26K to recover files from such a disaster. In their case it was worth the effort due to test results and such they would have to repeat. The IT staffer responsible for this was put to dust bunny duty for a few years.


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by tproveau / February 15, 2008 10:01 AM PST
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out o' luck
by tedtks / February 15, 2008 10:09 AM PST

A quick delete, like MS uses during install, a flag is set in the FAT for the files. a thorough delete - deletes the name and
track info from the fat. in both cases the 'file' is still there'
it used to be easy to get to quick del files, and recovery programs
have no problem getting them back.
security deletes tho write over the area of the file anywhere from
2 to 7 times, thus obliterating the electronic signatures for the old data.
you also changed the partition table, thus relocateing the FAT tables. but this could still be used by an outside rescue company.
the biggest problem I see is that you reloaded the system and other
programs - which - overwrites the old FAT names and track data - and - will probably overwrite the areas where these files were.
I doubt if even spending the big bucks for recovery that an outside company could find your data without you haveing to refinance your
home to pay for it. and then it would probably not be complete.
sorry for the downer.

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by judgew / February 15, 2008 2:51 PM PST
In reply to: out o' luck

thanks for your advice and info. All's good though, I've learnt to let things go. It's kinda like dropping your keys in a river of molten lava...cos they're gone man.

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File Recovery
by brians221 / February 17, 2008 11:41 PM PST
In reply to: Shot.

There are a few programs out there like Stellar Phoenix File Recovery which do work - the only downside is they recover every file that has been on the disk previously and you need to sift out the needed from the unneeded. The warning though is anyone can recover your files from a disk you part ownership with so BEWARE

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Don't freak out yet..!
by BIGFRENCHGUY / February 15, 2008 10:31 PM PST

Spend $50 on getting QUETEK File Scavenger 3; it can get your stuff back. I quote "Maximum PC" magazine, March 2007 issue, page 38:
We've all experienced that gut-wrenching feeling that follows unexpected data loss, whether by accidental deletion, a hard drive crash, or some other unfortunate clamity. But all need not be lost, thanks to QueTek's File Scavenger, a nifty little utility capable of recovering files in even the direst circumstances. Already reformatted and partitioned your drive? No problem! File Scavenger can still recover those lost files, and it works with both FAT and FTFS file systems. Play the part of hard drive hero as you wade through a drive with bad sectors or reconstruct a broken RAID array (Raid 0 reconstruction requires an $85 version of the app).
I'm getting this today, myself.
Good luck!

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I bought File Scavenger about
by Mike7p / February 16, 2008 3:40 AM PST
In reply to: Don't freak out yet..!

1 year ago and can confirm thatI was able to recover some but not all lost data after a reformat. So it's definatley worth a try.
Good Luck!

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by DerfX / May 9, 2008 9:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Don't freak out yet..!

...that sounds like a commercial advertisement if ever heard one.

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by thebug / May 10, 2008 3:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Don't freak out yet..!

what if the drive won't spin up?

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Still toast.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 10, 2008 3:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Ok!

As we read the first post and now your added no spinning feature the data is doubly dead and gone.

Can you share with us if this is where you think most learn about backup?

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by thebug / May 10, 2008 4:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Still toast.

most people use norton and i've used it and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. not very reliable! when it works it's great!it always warns of backing up to more than one dvd that errors may happen.

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That's bad.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 10, 2008 5:30 AM PDT
In reply to: No

I asked "Can you share with us if this is where you think most learn about backup?" to which you said no.

Here's my next question. What events have to happen for most to start thinking that backup is something they really need to do?


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by thebug / May 10, 2008 6:17 AM PDT
In reply to: That's bad.

When they loose important info. Sorry I didn't understand before.

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Recover files from formatted drive
by Joeswift63 / February 7, 2011 2:47 PM PST

There are many software applications that are available in the market which claim that they can recover files intact, but choosing the appropriate software is the major problem that we usually encounter. So choose software that can recover files from formatted drive and can easily retrieve lost, deleted emails from hard drives and other storage devices.

Use the thorough scan or deep scan to recover all the lost emails and make sure that you don't use the drive that is formatted i.e. from which data is to be recovered.

download the software from

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