Accidently reformatted my external hard drive!! HELP!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jzdesigns, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. jzdesigns macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2007
    Accidently reformatted an external 500 gig hard drive, half was time machine, half was files. I'd prefer it all back but what I REALLY only need is one folder from it of my archived work. I contacted a few data recovery companies, they all charge quite a bit. Gillware seems reputable and the mostreasonable. I tried a demo of a recovery software named Phoenix, it found absolutely nothing.

    Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing?!:eek:
  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
  3. BrianKonarsMac macrumors 65816

    Apr 28, 2004
    did you zero out the disk (overwrite all data with zeros) or do a standard format?

    If you zero'd it out, I think you're boned. If not, you might find luck with a reputable data recovery site but they're quite expensive... do you have to live in the southern California area? I know a few computer guys who could recover it, if it can still be recovered.
  4. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    On another note... I can never understand how something like this can happen. I can see how someone might accidentally delete a folder or file, but to accidentally erase a whole hard drive?
  5. Leareth macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2004
  6. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
  7. Fishrrman macrumors Pentium


    Feb 20, 2009
    First thing -- turn off the external drive and disconnect it, RIGHT NOW.

    I would recommend either Data Rescue or Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery. I've only used Data Rescue, and can attest that it works well, but I have heard good reports about Stellar Phoenix as well.

    Next thing -- you need to buy ANOTHER hard drive, because ALL data recovery software applications require a second "empty" drive to which they recover the data.

    I would recommend that you buy a "bare" hard drive (I like Seagates, and I also like Then, get yourself one of these from

    Only $30 and it will become a very handy "tool" to have around.

    What to do when you have this stuff:
    - Connect the SATA dock to the Mac via the USB port
    - Put the bare drive into the dock, turn the dock on
    - The drive probably WILL NOT "mount up" yet, because it hasn't been initialized, so...
    - Open Disk Utility and initialize the new drive. Set it up for ONE partition, in the GUID partition format (assuming you have an intel-based Mac).
    - Now re-connect the problem drive. Let it mount on the desktop but DO NOT try to copy anything to it. The idea is to leave it "untouched"
    - Launch Data Rescue (or whatever recovery software you have) and choose the problem drive as the source, and the new "dock drive" as the target.
    - Be aware that it can take a L-O-N-G time for data recovery apps to do their thing. This is because they don't try to "repair" a bad drive. Instead, they "scavenge" it, block-by-block, and then try to re-assemble the chunks of data they find into meaningful files.
    - Also be aware that it might take more than one try to "get the hang of it". In my case, it was the third attempt that finally worked for me.
    - Be aware that you'll probably lose any "folder hierarchies" you previously had. This is because folder hierarchies are stored in a drive's directory, and you "wiped that out" when you re-initialized the drive by mistake.

    DO NOT expect this to "go like a snap". It will take some time and some learning effort on your part. Why do you think the data recovery companies can command such high prices?

    And again - if you are serious about getting those files back, you _MUST_ buy another drive to use as your recovery drive. And again I would recommend buying a SATA dock along with a bare drive - you will actually find the dock a useful piece of equipment for the future.

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