Today I was trying to copy some files from my external hard drive (1TB) to a flash drive (4GB) on Ubuntu 12.10. My flash drive contained an operating system, so I decided to format it using the disk management tool that comes with Ubuntu.

Unfortunately I ended up formating my external hard drive, and it was mounted. I formated it to FAT, and in the beginning it was NTFS. An error occurred (since it was mounted) and the label on the Hard Drive vanished, but I could still copy files from and to it. In the disk management tool the partition appeared as “unknown”.

When I saw the label was gone and that the partition was acknowledged as unknown, I knew that probably my computer wouldn't be able to recognize my hard drive partition once I disconnect it from my computer. Unfortunately I didn't have enough space to save all data from the hard drive to the computer it was connected to, so I did had to remove the hard drive to another computer: and what I expected happen – my partition is no longer recognized by Ubuntu.

Since I was able to copy files between the computer and the hard drive (I actually copied the files I wanted to my flash drive) before I remove it from my computer, I think there may be a way to recover my partition to its original state, and that's why I am creating this question. I have some data on the hard drive I REALLY NEED and that I don't have anywhere else. Any help would be appreciated.


Hi there, try the following link:


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  • I'll wait and see if someone comes with a good old command line solution, if don't I'll try that :P – joelalmeidaptg Nov 30 '12 at 14:45
  • And it worked! I used the tool to restore the boot sector of my hard drive. My hard drive was automatically recognised by the operating system. THANK YOU!! – joelalmeidaptg Nov 30 '12 at 21:55
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    Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – fossfreedom Dec 1 '12 at 10:23
  • While Testdisk really is the best solution to this, this answer should contain more than just a download link in order to be a good answer. – thomasrutter Jan 14 '15 at 3:38

You seem to have deleted your partition table. The partition table informs Linux of how your drives are structured and what filesystem each partition is using.

You will need to recreate your partition table, the below link is a good place to start, specifically the Lost Partition section: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/DataRecovery

Further reading and more of a tutorial can be found at the following link: http://www.simplified.guide/linux/recover-lost-partition-table

I would recommend you recreate the scenario with a spare drive/usb you have available. You can configure the drive with exactly the same partition structure and filesystem and follow the steps on the test drive that got you into this scenario to practice getting it right before doing it on the actual drive you need recovered.

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