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While setting up Time Machine over network for a Mac in the Office, I accidentally picked Bootcamp drive instead of the network drive as backup disk (the Mac is entirely set in Chinese, I was guessing I was picking the right disk and clicking the right buttons -- stupid, I know).

Anyway, long story short, TM formatted the Bootcamp drive (I guess it just changed the partition table info from NTFS to HFS+?), but no data was written on it yet.

Is there a way to recover the data (or more preferably, to convert it back to NTFS/Bootcamp without having to reinstall everything)? Could I boot a Linux livecd and just change the table from HFS+ to NTFS?

Big thanks.

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Just setting the partition type will not work as the new filesystem was written to the disk and both are totally different. I guess you are out of luck and need to either restore a backup or reinstall. – Sven Jan 18 '11 at 18:04
No backups I'm afraid... That's the thing I wanted to set up, as he wasn't making any backups and using that device for his work as well. – Tuinslak Jan 18 '11 at 18:14
I don't think Time Machine backs up NTFS partitions. It would be effective either to capture images of the NTFS partition from the Mac side, or to run Windows backups using a Windows backup tool on the Windows side. – Skyhawk Jan 23 '11 at 22:47
No backups and simply guessing which drive to use? I hope you learned something out of this. – John Gardeniers Jan 24 '11 at 0:06
Time Machine doesn't back up NTFS no. But they are supposed to use a terminal (remote desktop) for Windows-related work. Most of the things he did in his Mac. However, for some reason he made some local changes on his Windows drive instead of the terminal and apparently didn't commit that work yet. That was what I was trying to recover. – Tuinslak Jan 24 '11 at 10:25
up vote 0 down vote accepted

What I would do:

  1. Remove the disk from the Mac and attach the disk to a separate machine. Or, boot the Mac in FireWire Target Disk Mode and mount it to a separate machine. Or, boot the Mac from an external USB or FireWare disk.

  2. Capture a complete offline image of the physical disk, to ensure that we cannot make the state of affairs any worse than it already is.

  3. Change the partition type back to NTFS.

  4. Experiment with data recovery tools. At least one tool purports to be able to recover an NTFS disk that has been quickformatted, but I cannot vouch for it personally.

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I tried to boot the Ubuntu rescue CD, and start with a mkfs.ntfs, but that started to write zeroes to the disk. So I just gave up due to time constraints. – Tuinslak Jan 24 '11 at 10:22
Definitely a strong argument in favor of capturing an image before attempting a fix, especially when the behavior of the tool at hand may be uncertain! – Skyhawk Jan 26 '11 at 3:07

use testdisk with linux. It will allow you to search for lost/corrupted/overwritten partition(s) (tables) and restore/recover them (and or their data) and even lets you dump raw data from ntfs formatted diskspace.

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