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How to retrieve files from a drive needed to be re-formatted?

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OH Smeg

Yes the drive doesn't need an active partition on it.

Though it must of at one stage had a Active Partition on it.

The reason you have been asked about the Partition Type is because it depends on what Software to Attack the Drive with.

Currently there are 2 type of Data Recovery Software the first type recovers Files from a HDD the second Type Rebuilds the File Structure on that HDD. To use the second type you don't need an active readable partition.