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Data Recovery After Selecting Wrong Drive in Windows Media Creation Tool

December 7, 2023

The Windows Media Creation Tool is used to create backup installation media for Microsoft Windows systems. It’s intended for use with flash drives and DVDs with at least five gigabytes (5 GB) of available space.

Occasionally, Windows users will accidentally select the wrong storage device when using the Media Creation Tool — and if you’ve made that mistake, take a deep breath. While the Media Creation Tool overwrites some data, the chances of a successful data recovery are fairly high. 

Before taking any additional steps, disconnect the affected device from your system. Leave it powered off. Operating the flash drive (or other storage device) will raise the risk of permanent data loss. 

In particular, you should not reformat the drive, delete files, edit the partition table, or create new partitions. In other words: Don’t panic. 

What happens when I reformat a drive with the Windows Media Creation Tool? 

The creation tool reformats your device, then writes the files needed to install Windows. If you interrupt the process before it completes (by canceling or simply ejecting the storage media), or if your storage device has a large capacity, it’s highly likely that your files are at least partially recoverable — but the next steps are crucial. 

Professional data recovery providers will proceed by cloning your device (making an exact copy), then running appropriate data recovery processes. This involves specialized software that can identify the original file system despite the presence of the new partition created by the Windows Media Creation Tool. 

If the recovered files are badly corrupted, they may attempt additional repairs. After verifying the success of the recovery, they can transfer the files back to you on the return media of your choice (or through a secure internet download). 

Generally, data recovery for reformatted devices is less expensive than other types of data recovery services — for example, hard drives with failed actuator heads. The services are fairly straightforward as long as you stop using the device right away. The more you use the device, the lower the chances of a successful case result (and the higher the potential cost). 

If the data isn’t important enough to justify professional data recovery, you may be able to restore your files by cloning your media and using appropriate software tools. Here’s an overview of that process.

Only use data recovery software if you’re comfortable with the risks.

One more warning: If you decide to use data recovery software, make sure you understand the risks. You generally have one chance to recover the data, and if you make a mistake, you may overwrite your files permanently. We strongly recommend working from a clone of your original media (learn how to create a clone with ddrescue here). 

Research data recovery software carefully. While we do not recommend specific software (for good reasons), you can search through the /r/datarecoverysoftware subreddit to find reviews of different applications. 

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Clone your device before using (or even installing) software. 
  • When using software, make sure you’re restoring the files to another storage device — not the target device that contains the lost data. 
  • Research carefully, particularly if you’re paying for software. If a program shows a “preview” with the names of recoverable files, don’t assume that the files will be fully recoverable or usable — if the files have been partially overwritten, corruption will occur.

Remember, if the data is important, the best practice is to trust a reputable data recovery provider. Look for a company that operates real laboratories at each location and ask about their credentials.

Related: Before Using Data Recovery Software, Read This

Data Recovery Services from

With full support for every type of storage device, file system, and operating system, provides comprehensive solutions for data loss disasters. 

We provide risk-free evaluations for reformatted hard drives, solid-state drives, flash drives, and other devices. All cases are supported by our no data, no charge guarantee: If your target files aren’t recoverable, you don’t pay for the attempt. 

To learn more, call 1-800-237-4200 to speak with an expert or schedule a risk-free evaluation online.