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Have you "lost" a hard drive or partition in your computer?

If there is a (hidden) recovery partition on the drive you should start a thread asking for advice before trying TestDisk.

The situation with a "lost" hard drive typically arises after Windows has been reinstalled or when a slave/external drive is moved to another computer.
If the drive/partition shows up in Device Manager and Disk management, but NOT in "My Computer", chances are that it is "only" the partition table that is missing or corrupt.

You can use a freeware program called TestDisk to repair the partition table and get access to your data again.
TestDisk will not change or delete any of your data if you follow the instructions below.

This guide is written for Windows, but you can use TestDisk with Linux and Mac as well.

Try this to repair the partition table:

The newest version of Test-Disk, 6.11 is available here
Download the Windows version of TestDisk.
Unzip the downloaded file to your C: drive.
Open C:\testdisk-6.10\win > double click the "testdisk_win" icon.

The program runs in a command window and doesn't have to be installed.

Each of the steps (A, B, C etc) below corresponds to a new TestDisk window.
Use the keyboard's arrow keys to navigate.

A. At the first window, select “No Log” and press the <Enter> key.

B. Select which drive to analyse, choose “Proceed” and <Enter>.

C. Select partition type – Intel if it’s a PC then <Enter>.

D. Select “Analyse” then <Enter>. The drive will be analysed.

E. Select “Quick Search” at the next screen, then <Enter>.

F. Press “Y” if the partitions were created under Vista – “N” if not.

G. TestDisk should say “Structure OK”. If so, press <Enter>.

H. Select “Write” and press <Enter>.

I. Press “Y” to confirm.

J. Press <Enter>.

Close TestDisk and RESTART the computer.
The drive/partition should now be fixed and your data available again.


If you want to run TestDisk from a bootable CD:
Please download and burn the ISO image of Parted Magic.
Boot the computer with the CD. When Parted Magic has loaded click the arrow next to the Utilities icon and choose TestDisk.

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If the drive still won't work after the steps described above - have a look here:

23,001 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
How to recover lost files using Photorec.

With Photorec you can retrieve files that have been deleted - I have got files back from a drive after it was formatted.
The program detects and retrieves all kinds of files, not just photo formats.

Download the TestDisk & Photorec zip file.
Unzip the file to a drive/partition with enough free space for the files you expect to recover - preferably more.
Do NOT place the TestDisk folder on the drive/partition you want to retrieve files from.

Open X:\testdisk-6.9\win (X is the drive where you placed the TestDisk folder) and click the photorec_win icon.

The program runs in a command window and doesn't have to be installed.
Each of the steps (A, B, C etc) below corresponds to a new PhotoRec window.
Use the keyboard's arrow keys to navigate.

A. At the first window you choose the drive you want to scan for lost files.
Then select "Proceed" and press the <Enter> key.

B. Choose Intel if it's a PC, press <Enter>.

C. If you want to scan a single partition - highlight it.
To scan all partitions - highlight [Whole Disk].

(You can choose to exclude certain file types from the scan by selecting "File Opt" >> to exclude a file type: highlight it, then press "-". When finished - press <Enter> to return to the previous window.)

Select "Search", then press <Enter> to confirm.

D. For a Windows computer - choose "Other".
If the drive/partition was formatted in Linux - choose EXT2/EXT3.
Press <Enter> to confirm.

E. You can choose to scan the whole drive/partition or free space only.
A free space scan might be enough if you deleted files by mistake and haven't used the drive/partition since.
Press <Enter> to confirm.

F. To save the recovered files in the X:\testdisk-6.9\win folder - press "Y".
If you press "N" PhotoRec will jump back to screen C.

G. The program will start recovering files.
The progress is shown in the program window.
When the "Estimated time for achievement" = 0h00m00, press <Enter> and quit PhotoRec.

All the retrieved files will (unfortunately) be renamed and saved in X:\testdisk-6.9\win\recup_dir.1 (2, 3 etc).
An easy way to sort them is to use Windows search function.
Using the search function you can find, for example, all jpeg files with a size less than 100 KB on drive I:
Click Start >> Search >> For files or folders... >> New window - choose "All files and folders" >> Another window:

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