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Accidental Reformat? Where did my Windows go?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by SherriAnne, May 31, 2010.

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  1. SherriAnne

    SherriAnne Thread Starter

    May 31, 2010
    I posted this question in Ubuntu's forum, after being unable to find Windows XP after installing Ubuntu. My intent was to have dual OS's, just so I could try out Ubuntu, and if I didn't like it, revert back to Windows only. Well, I must've done something I wasn't supposed to do! The tech who tried to asked me to type "sudo -l" in the terminal of Ubuntu. This was the output:

    Model: ATA ST3160815A (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sda: 160GB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: msdos

    Number Start End Size Type File system Flags
    1 1049kB 158GB 158GB primary ext4 boot
    2 158GB 160GB 1520MB extended
    5 158GB 160GB 1520MB logical linux-swap(v1)

    He stated that I reformatted my disk, and needed to remove hard drive and use a forensic tool to retrieve lost files (whatever that is). I was told the apps TestDisk and/or PhotoRec wouldn't help because they are unix-based, and I need windows-based tools.

    First of all, can anyone tell me based on the above if I reformatted? Or just deleted? And is removing the hard disk my only option?

    I am a complete novice and have no idea how to retrieve my lost files from Windows. I'm afraid to touch anything now for fear of screwing it up even more. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. Gavlar


    Jun 8, 2009
    Yes, you have no Windows partition any more.

    The first partition is in the ext4 file-system so that is used for your Ubuntu boot.
    The second partition is not formatted, it is used as a container for the logical third partition
    The third partition is a swap partition. This is used in Linux when the RAM is low and extra memory is needed.

    Therefore, you no longer have a Windows boot partition.

    Im sorry, I don't know enough about data recovery to tell you how to recover data from a reformatted hard drive. Ive heard its a pretty hard procedure. Unless you have any really critical data on your Windows partition I would just reinstall it.

    If your sure you want to forget trying to recover the data do this:

    As far as I remember, you should go to: system -> administrator -> partition editor -> then click on the ext4 partition and click edit/resize -> then drag a suitable volume off, say 75GBs -> then choice NTFS for the new partition -> hit ok a few times -> then let it work.

    This could take a few hours to complete so be patient. What ever you do, DO NOT stop it mid resizing; this is very likely to cause further damage.

    Once completed, stick in your Windows installation media and restart. Upon startup hit F8 and select boot from CD/DVD. Run through the installation making sure to hit custom installation this time. Then you can select the new NTFS partition and install Windows to that.

    Im not sure how the boatload will turn out as installing Windows will probably reset the Masterboot Record and therefore remover GRUB (the Ubuntu boatloader) and I don't think the Windows Boatloader will work with Ubuntu (at least not by default). Post back if you cant boot into Ubuntu anymore.

    If you NEED some data on your Windows partition, wait until a more knowledgeable member of TSG comes along :)

    Hope this helped
  3. SherriAnne

    SherriAnne Thread Starter

    May 31, 2010
    Gavlar, thanks so much for your input, and for taking the time to explain the partitions and reinstallation of Windows. I think I will still try to see if anyone can advise on recovery data..from what I understand my only chance is to make the hard drive a slave drive (hopefully I can use my laptop as the master drive?)..but if anyone knows of another solution that would be awesome. :) My understanding is I have to buy some sort of casing after removing the hard drive, so it may take me a while to do this as I'm pretty strapped right now.

    I will try to reinstall Windows after trying this.. Thank you for explaining how to do that in a way that even a newbie like me should be able to understand!
  4. 1002richards

    1002richards Retired Trusted Advisor

    Jan 29, 2006
  5. DaveBurnett

    DaveBurnett Account Closed

    Nov 11, 2002
    There are versions of TESTDISK for Windows, DOS, Linux, and BSD. see http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk
    They all do exactly the same thing so it wouldn't matter which you used. TESTDISK may be able to recover some of your data.
    Whatever you use, do NOT try to install/write anything on that disk until you have done your recovery.
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