How can I restore my hard drive partitions

hardware Restore formatted hard drive - here's how


If you've accidentally formatted the wrong hard drive or deleted partitions, the shock is usually great - but unnecessary. We will show you how to recover files from formatted partitions and deleted partitions.

Partitions and formatting

First of all, a few terms need to be clear. We always talk about formatted hard drives, but hard drives are actually partitioned and partitions are formatted. So there are two possible sources of problems here. Formatting a partition is usually done under Windows by right-clicking on the drive and selecting the "Format" option from the context menu - you can quickly find yourself wrong if there are many hard disks and partitions in the system. To delete a partition, you have to go through a partition manager or the depths of the Windows Control Panel - but that can happen too. A partition manager does not necessarily look clear, especially for laypeople.

In most cases, deleted partitions can be restored. The status is then as before - the partition is, for example, drive "D:" in the system and the files and folders are there again. After formatting a partition, all files can usually be restored - but not always with the correct file names and folder structures. So your rescued photos may simply be named 000001.jpg, 000002.jpg, and so on.

There are many tools that can do these things - and we suggest one without a graphical user interface. Strictly speaking, there are actually two tools that come together: TestDisk and PhotoRec. Don't put too much emphasis on the name, TestDisk will restore partitions and PhotoRec will restore pretty much anything you want in files. Both tools run in the terminal, i.e. the Windows command prompt, are menu-driven, very simple but above all extremely reliable. PhotoRec now even has a small GUI. As I said, there are also "more modern" programs with fancier graphical interfaces, but experience has shown that you always end up with these two tools if you have problems. You can also get to know the right tools right away.

Nevertheless: You can also carry out a first attempt with the freeware Recuva from Piriform (known for the Ccleaner): Start the program and simply use the assistant or enter the drive in the main window and click on "Scan" - often enough that already and you can save yourself further effort.

Recover files after formatting

The more common case is restoring files after formatting. Most of the time you will use the Windows default "Quick format"Use - that makes rescuing files quick and easy. If you uncheck the box, the attempt to rescue will take hours - and usually be unsuccessful. With old 32-bit operating systems up to Windows Vista it looked even better So first download the two programs:
- TestDisk
- PhotoRec

Unzip the archive and switch to the folder.

You can use the graphic version of PhotoRec via "gphotorec_win.exe"start: just choose the one you want drive, one folder for the rescued files (PhotoRec never writes to the data carrier from which it is rescued!) and start the search.

Unfortunately, file recovery is something that happens again and again when the system no longer runs properly, or the Windows logon may even fail completely. Then you might end up in Microsoft's rescue console or even have to use live Linux. Therefore, in the following, the rescue on the command line step by step:

Recover deleted partitions

Basically, TestDisk works in the same way as PhotoRec: Call the command prompt and start the program via "testdisk_win.exe". In the first screen you confirm the given option"Create"to start a new analysis. In the second screen you have to be" creative "once, namely the one you want Select hard drive. If you are not sure which is the right one, a look at the "Computer Management" of Windows might help: Under "Disk management"all drives are listed with their names, drive letters and also the data carrier numbers used by TestDisk.


You simply confirm the next three menus: The Type of partition (Intel) that Type of job (Analysis) and ultimately the search is carried out using the option "Quick Search"is started. The actual search then takes some time. If the search is unsuccessful, you can use the"Deeper SearchIf everything goes well, you will eventually end up with a list of partitions - and you can then have this structure restored available on Linux.

If you really want to try it graphically: The EasUS Partition Master Free offers the function "Restore partition"directly via the context menu of unassigned areas. And here, too, there is a quick search and an exact sector-by-sector search (" Complete "). However, the otherwise very good partitioning tool has not been able to restore anything here in the test so far.

Whether partitions and entire partitions of hard disks can be found and restored, regardless of the program used, also depends on which program was originally used for partitioning and what exactly was written where - unfortunately there is no guarantee of success.