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Recently, my 120 GB iPod classic was not being recognised by my MacBook and kept prompting to reformat. I have done this many times before but make it a conscious effort to back up my files before I do so. I genuinely forgot about the folder I had saved on my iPod classic (when using it as a hard disk) and went ahead to reformat it. A week later I realised I forgot to back up my files but it was too late. I want to retrieve the files really badly as they were pictures/memories!

Is it possible to retrieve without paying for those softwares?

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If you are comfortable with the command line, try TestDisk

It's fairly intuitive for a command line program.

The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Download from above link.
  2. Extract download.
  3. Navigate to extracted folder in Terminal.
  4. Run ./testdisk
  5. Follow the onscreen instructions.

Note: You may want to read the documentation before you do anything. The documentation links are about halfway down the page I linked previously. The instructions are for NTFS, but I imagine it will be a similar process for HFS.

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