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USB drive erased by Fedora media writer without asking. How to recover data?

asked 2016-12-03 09:12:41 -0600

Wingman gravatar image

Hello everyone. Unluckily I wanted to try fedora 25, and to do so I used a USB drive onto which I had very important data. I wasn't expecting fedora media writer to erase the entire drive, as the previous official tool "fedora liveusb creator" didn't erase the content of the drive! I believe I have neither be warned about it, correct me if I'm wrong.

I wonder now how I can undo the process and recover the data on the drive which hasn't been overwritten. I've heard about testdisk. Is there any better solution, considering that apart of the live image nothing has been written yet on the drive?

Any help appreciated. I will also report this dangerous user case to the developers!

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answered 2016-12-03 15:51:36 -0600

Benjamin Doron gravatar image

updated 2019-04-10 19:57:00 -0600

If you can access a Windows machine (either through dual-booting, a friend or a second PC) download and run a tool called Recuva by Piriform. It will scan your drive for deleted files, and allow you to easily recover them. If you don't have access to a Windows machine, you can use Test Disk (as you said) or you can use PhotoRec (it recovers more than photos).

I will caution you to not write any data to the USB until you have taken care of the problem, but this may not be necessary. You said that you haven't written anything else to it.

Deleting data and formatting drives is a common practice when setting up bootable drives. The media writer was meant to warn you about this, but if it did, I expect the Fedora devs to sympathise with you, but tell you the same that I did. This isn't something that will change.

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Sure, using an empty drive is a good practice which I always used too. Until the previous USB creator tool actually began to allow me to preserve my original data. Since it worked perfectly, I would expect the same to happen with the NEW tool. Or at least to warn me that it is not.

Wingman gravatar imageWingman ( 2017-03-03 11:07:51 -0600 )edit

answered 2017-03-03 11:06:02 -0600

Wingman gravatar image

Thanks for the answers! Today I put my hands on the problem, and by using Testdisk (or better, Photorec. There's a Windows version as well) I managed to recover more than 90% of my documents and pictures. I might try to recreate the bug later, if a warning was meant to be displayed. I just hope that this isn't the meant behavior of the tool.

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answered 2016-12-03 15:53:07 -0600

sideburns gravatar image

Welcome to ask.fedora. Yes, testdisk may be able to help if it didn't just reformat the drive, but in general, gone is gone. You should certainly file a bug report at Bugzilla, especially if there was ample free space on the drive. (e.g., 3GB of personal data on a 64GB drive) You may need to open an account there first, but it's both free and safe. If you do, include a request that the program asks permission before taking such a drastic step, and add a comment including a link to the report so that others here can either add their own comments or follow the report's progress. (You can only give one answer per question, and shouldn't waste it on something like this.)

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Data is not actually deleted on FAT and NTFS drives, merely marked as deletable. Therefore, if the OP recovers their data quickly and does not overwrite their original data, it is all recoverable. Although Fedora is funded by Red Hat, they aren't responsible for everything, and Fedora has their own support page. I expect that the media writer did warn about formatting the drive. If it didn't, it needs to be corrected.

Benjamin Doron gravatar imageBenjamin Doron ( 2016-12-03 15:58:02 -0600 )edit

That's why I mentioned reformatting. Recovering data after you've reformatted the media is much more problematic.

sideburns gravatar imagesideburns ( 2016-12-03 17:43:43 -0600 )edit

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Asked: 2016-12-03 09:12:41 -0600

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Last updated: Apr 10 '19