I was trying to install a hard drive by following the InstallingANewHardDrive guide on help.ubuntu.com, but I accidentally formatted my 2 TB external hard drive instead of my 1 TB internal hard drive.

I'm running Ubuntu 14.04 and I have 3 hard drives:

  1. 80gb Intel SSDSC2BW080A4 (DC22) master boot record

  2. ST1000DM003-1ER162 (CC43) GUID Partition Table (the one i wanted to install and mount)

  3. My 2 TB Segate external Hard Drive that now is inaccessible and formatted.

When i go to my disks tool and choose this hard drive it tells me that its 1.6% full, which sounds like good news to me.

I read a couple of different post look into some programs but I'm not really sure how to proceed.

results of the deep analysis with testdisk

Disk /dev/sdc - 2000 GB / 1863 GiB - CHS 243201 255 63

The harddisk (2000 GB / 1863 GiB) seems too small! (< 17833196 TB / 16219197 TiB Check the harddisk size: HD jumpers settings, BIOS detection...

The following partitions can't be recovered:

Partition Start End Size in sectors

VMFS 38417 201 39 3789016855 14 45 3924794316768135

SysV 4 49694 147 2 7723719 218 31 123283216128 [^\%^DK]

VMFS 138906 191 51 3432453218 29 16 34830459532972999

XFS 4 179830 196 24 1053386502 20 50 17956568663837018 [~[JR4

NTFS 243201 0 63 486402 0 62 3907024065

i probably should have mentioned that im very new to this. so cant really make sense of any of that.


2 Answers 2


Well, you could get some of the files back by scanning the drive with forensic tools. But other then this I think it's not possible that easy. The mkfs tools overwrite specific sections for file system information. without a backup of these blocks I believe its not possible to restore the structure of the old file system. What I like to do is not to install OS on hard-drive. Use a usb-thumb flash-drive. It's easy to do an image-backup then and in such situations you can simply do a dd back to the usb-thumb :) Sorry to not provide you a better solution.

  • Thank you. i think i did the damage with the gparted application not the mk command.
    – Jagsmr
    Aug 2, 2016 at 12:50
  • Well then it's easy as long you know the old partion configuration (address of the start block for each partition).
    – 0x0C4
    Aug 3, 2016 at 10:42
  • «scanning the drive with forensic tools» It would be much better to include instructions in the answer on how to do what you are suggesting. In the current form, the answer is basically "use tools to recover the data"... OK, what tools? How are they used? Aug 3, 2016 at 12:51
  • Well coming from " I accidentally formatted" to "I delete my partition table" makes it hard to say "use this tool and this is how it works". "A problem well stated is a problem half-solved." Charles Kettering
    – 0x0C4
    Aug 4, 2016 at 13:08
  • I formatted my whole external hard drive. i thought that was clear with the topic. Then again a lot of the stuff i have being reading talks about deleting a partition so am no sure if this is the same. Should i change something in thewayi wrote my post. Thanks for your time.
    – Jagsmr
    Aug 6, 2016 at 3:00

You can use forensic tools and try recover at least some of the data. My experience with those was very mixed as the results you will be getting will be a big pile of data, some of which will even be broken. Nonetheless they can really recover your important data. (And recover the data to a new disk and not the one you are about to examine)

More information on file recovery including many tools can be found in the Arch Linux Wiki

  • Thank you. I started following this post. <askubuntu.com/questions/171163/…> I'm not sure if is the same and the solutions will apply considering i formatted a whole drive not just deleted a partition. Am running a deep analysis with testdisk 6.14 and see what comes out. It looks like is going to be a long wait so ill read the link and try to learn something
    – Jagsmr
    Aug 3, 2016 at 3:42
  • Looks good and Testdisk surely is a good choice. If you didn't overwrite any of the data yet it could rediscover the partition and rescue most of the data. Keep me posted - I'm really interested if it works for your problem.
    – matt3o
    Aug 3, 2016 at 7:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.