hard drive unformat after Time Machine format

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by iDjaq, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. iDjaq macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2008
    Hi. I've recently got a new alu MacBook, and was setting up Time Machine on a 500 gb external hard drive that had about 60 gb of data from my old PC. I thought I'd selected for Time Machine to create a partition in the 400 gb of empty space on the drive for backups. Turns out I was wrong, and it's reformatted the whole drive.

    Is there an easy way to get this PC data back (standard documents, MP3s etc)? I didn't let Time Machine start backing up my Mac data once I'd realised what it had done, so the data should still be there, minus the index on the drive which showed where everything was.

    The alternative is that I go back to my creaking Windows PC and copy the data off it -- this would probably take 2-3 hours (it's in boxes at the moment), so if there's a quicker way I'd appreciate it.

    If not, is there something obvious I missed to get Time Machine to play nicely with my data and drive next time?

  2. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Well it may be more complicated than you have imagined I am sorry to say. :(

    Time Machine only formats the drive if it finds that it is currently formatted in a PC format (FAT32 or NTFS) when it runs since it needs a drive to be in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format to use for backups. I would be willing to bet that your drive had never been formatted for Macs (particularly since you said you had PC data on it), and was still in the format that external drives normally come with which is FAT32. FAT32 can be read from and written to fine by Macs, so you would not have necessarily even known that it was still in a PC format, but Time Machine will not work with it.

    If a drive is already formatted as a Mac drive when TM first sees it, it will only ask if you want to use it with TM, and will not format it.

    So because of that, it did not just "erase" the drive- it literally rewrote the format (including the partition map table) thus making data recovery questionable.

    I would suggest first to download the demo of Data Rescue II (since your drive in now in a Mac format) since you can do a trial run to see what it can find and what it would be capable of recovering. I really don't think you will have any luck with trying to retrieve the files with your PC sorry to say, again since the drive is now in a Mac format and I doubt the PC will even "see" it, but it is certainly worth a shot if DR II gives no joy. :(

    Good luck- and maybe someone else can share better news!
  3. iDjaq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2008
    Thanks for your reply -- I'll give the program you mentioned a try, but it looks like I'll have to go back to the original drives where the files on that hard drive came from.

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