Common data recovery scenarios

Common scenarios of a data loss.

  1. You got out an external hard drive or USB thumbdrive not using a "safely remove hardware" option first. Usually it leads to damage of the original file system which turns to RAW. If you connect such a storage device to the computer again it is possible that you will receive the message "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it". Never format the storage device until you have recovered data off it. Typically, it is easy enough to recover data from RAW file system device regardless of the original file system type.
  2. Another common scenario - you have formatted a disk accidentally or deleted a wrong partition. The success of the recovery depends on
    • format type you used - complete or quick. In case of Quick format or deletion of the partition the data can usually be recovered. If you applied "complete" format in Windows 7 or Vista it is impossible to recover data.
    • original filesystem type. Typically, you have a great chance to recover data from the NTFS filesystem and a worse chance for the FAT filesystem.
  3. You have accidentally deleted a single file. Quality of recovery depends on how fast you stopped using the disk after you have deleted the file. The rule is - the sooner the better. And here as well as in the previous item the chance of data recovery from the NTFS filesystem is usually high while it is not possible to predict data recovery result for the FAT filesystem.
  4. You have used a laptop recovery disc to restore the operating system and then you realized that there were some important data stored on the laptop. The data recovery result depends on implementation of that particular recovery disc - in some cases you can recover some small pieces of data in the other nothing can be retrieved at all.
  5. You have reinstalled Windows and then realized that valuable data was on the drive. Data recovery success is determined by the following:
    • what format type was used during the reinstallation. If it was Quick format then you can still recover data; Complete format in Windows 7 or Vista erases all the data irreversibly and so you can recover nothing.
    • how long you have been working with the new installation. The more you use the disk the less chance to recover data.
  6. You have accidentally deployed the disk image to the wrong disk for example using Norton Ghost. Generally it is impossible to recover data.

Continue to Types of data recovery.