Urgent Help Needed, Data Recovery and OS Issues, I keep screwing up :(

I currently can’t boot into windows, and have somehow removed a partition containing 4TB of backups and un-backed-up files I’m currently working on.

I was planning on reinstalling windows due to system instability caused by corrupted system files. I was going to use the system reset feature but it failed repeatedly and no amount of troubleshooting worked so I decided to create a new partition with some spare space to use as a bootdisk (I didn’t have a USB stick or CD), load windows onto that and boot from there.

In the process, without realising it I deleted grub (I dual boot with Elemental). I kinda copped that I had done that and sighed and shook my head but no biggie. The problem being when I was using diskpart I cleaned the volume that I thought was just my partition for installing windows onto but disk unmounted.

Panicked and tired, I then restarted my PC. I was unable to get back up and running with grub rescue, so I took my elemental install media and figured that I’d format C:/, install elemental on one of the few free partitions on my 4TB disk, and continue getting a bootable windows installer ready on another partition in elemental

Only, when I got into elemental it read my 4TB disk as completely empty.

There was absolutely not enough time between me pressing “clean” on that volume and the operation completing/me restarting to format that disk, so I’m convinced the data is retrievable, but I have no idea how and I’m out of my depth and making mistakes.

Looking for any help at all, very tired and overworked rn and keep making mistakes.

Unfortunately Data recovery is not my strong suit, I’ll let the experts handle that. I am sure someone comes by.
My recommendations:

  • Don’t do further recovery attempts in the stressed/frustrated condition you are in now. Catch a few minutes of fresh air.
  • Use some kind of life medium (USB or CD) with Knoppix or some other recovery tool, If you don’t have a CD or flash drive to do that I would recommend to go out and buy one now or ask the neighbours to lend you one.
  • Don’t change/make partitions for the moment, look at it from a live medium.

Sorry, for not being of much help here. I hope your problem get’s resolved.


Not at all, thank you very much for responding.

You’re right, at the moment my priorities are: Tea, walk, food. In that order. I’m giving my brain a rest and having a change of clothes. I’ll re-approach this in an hour or two :slight_smile:

Definitely valid advice the rest of it as well, basically going to wait until somebody who knows more than I do sheds some light on the issue to avoid making it any worse.

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TestDisk is pretty straightforward for recovering partitions. If you can get a Linux CD/DVD/USB with your distro of choice to boot in to a live environment then it can fix your problem. It has been written about in other threads on here by myself and others, so it might be beneficial to read those older posts.

I would strongly advise two things:

1 - If you have data you need to recover from the original OS drive, find another storage device (HDD, SSD, USB etc.) to copy over important data before doing anything else to the drive. If the partition information is lost then TestDisk can fix it, any attempts to write data or install an OS could overwrite any data you want to save, so back it up and test that backup to be certain it is in a usable state before overwriting the original drive just to be safe.

2 - Don’t use the 4TB storage drive to install Windows or any other operating system, unless you have offloaded all of the important data on that drive and can afford to lose all of the data on it. Recovering deleted partitions is easy enough, but once you start overwriting things it may be impossible to salvage the data you need.

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caine version 7’ the viking iso (bjornvold.com forums) or cyborg hawk.
These are forensic distros with powerful recovery tools.
but as kleerkut stated above do not make any more partitions until you’ve had chance to recover data.
also never use a large volume disk for your os
keep them as your storage drives and set up an ssd as your os drive.
you can span your installation over multiple drives if you are judicious in placing your partions (linux)
for instance in my server the os is primarily on the ssd with exception of the swap, var, temp. These are on the second hdd due to multiple read/writes, and home partition is on the raid1

with windows partitioning will be a different scenario but a matter of file redirection processes.