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Due to some problems, I tried installing Ubuntu in my machine. But accidentally I installed it in the same partition where my earlier installation was. My data was inside the home directory in the same partition. So all got wiped. Is there any way to recover the data? I am trying to use Testdisk. It is analyzing the disk for several hours. I am not sure how to use it properly. Is it the right tool? Or should I try any other tool?

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TestDisk is a much better tool than PhotoRec. However, the only problem with TestDisk is that it doesn't always recover all the deleted files. So, if you accidentally reformat a partition, TestDisk can recover thousands of files without missing a single file, but if you deleted a file by sending it to the Recycle Bin (Trash), and then emptying the Trash, TestDisk might not be able to recover it for you in all the cases.

So use TestDisk first, and if you recovered all of the deleted files with TestDisk, then great, else you can recover the rest of the files using PhotoRec.

PhotoRec can selectively recover files based on their filetype(s), but PhotoRec / TestDisk can't selectively scan an individual directory for lost files unless you had mounted a whole hard drive partition as this directory. In some cases, the filename is stored in the file itself. PhotoRec tries to recover the filename in this case, but most of the time PhotoRec can't recover the filenames.

Here are the steps to recover files based on filetype using PhotoRec:

  • Install Test disk: sudo apt-get install testdisk

  • Launch PhotoRec. Open a terminal and launch photorec (as root): sudo photorec

  • Select Hard Disk

  • Select the partition type. If your hard disk has Linux partitions, then select [Intel]

  • Select filetype option

Move to [File Opt] and press the Enter key. Here you can disable all file types by pressing s key. Use space to toggle the check button. Select filetype(s) to recover.

  • Select options

Photorec also has a list of different options. Under normal circumstances, you don’t need to modify them.

  • Select partition

Move the selector up or down to the partition from which you have removed the file(s). Then select [Search] and press the Enter key

  • Select filesystem type

If you are using Linux, it's going to be ext2/ext3/ext4, so the default selection is ext2/ext3. Otherwise, if you are recovering files from a partition formatted as FAT or NTFS select Other

  • Select space for analysis.

Select Free if you didn’t write to that partition after removing the particular file, otherwise select Whole

  • Select a directory for the recovered files

Select the path where the recovered files will be stored. Then press Y key

Once done, Photorec will show how many files it has recovered.

Note: Another Forum thread [closed], but it might be able to help you: Recovering Data

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. I ran TestDisc after starting the machine. The analysis took 6/7 hours, but I couldn't proceed from there. I mean I couldn't find anything that can recover the file. It was just showing start and end blocks. Do I need to use it with a bootable USB drive running Ubuntu for trial? – cryptexcode Mar 14 at 7:58
  • Your welcome @cryptexcode. If the answer helps you, kindly mark it as correct, so that even other users can take help from it. – Manu Mathur Mar 14 at 7:59
  • Can you please answer the issue in my comment? Thanks. – cryptexcode Mar 14 at 8:04
  • Yes, the TestDisk surely takes time. For me, it took more than 10 hours in total. The concept with Formatting says: if you accidentally delete data on a partition and then perform new operations on it, then your chances of recovering previously deleted data reduces gradually. Still, if you can try using PhotoRec, maybe you do get something out of it. – Manu Mathur Mar 14 at 8:09

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