I'm trying to help a friend retrieving QGIS data from a formatted drive.

Finding the .qgs project that was saved on the desktop is no problem, but it seems that there is no actual data located in that file. When trying to load it in QGIS the following error occurs: "error occurred while parsing element on line 1 column 1 for file C:/Users/H..."

I have browsed the directories for some time now without finding finding the actual database, and I have absolutely no experience with this software or it's structure. So I'm hoping that someone can guide me a little in the dark.


There is no data stored in the QGIS project file itself. It is just a XML file with information about where to find the layers, how to style them, what projection the map is in, etc.

The project file will tell you where the data lived but that is all.

If the drive is formatted there isn't much you can do apart from use one of the data recovery tools but even then you might be out of luck.

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  • Exactly as I was expecting - unfortunately! :) I have successfully recovered all data from the drive but I can't seem to find the directory where the actual QGIS data is stored (the data that the project file should be loading). Do you know if there is a default directory for that, or a specific file extension that would make it easier to search for? – Henrik Dec 16 '13 at 23:50
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    Like I said, you just have to open the project file in a text editor and look at all the <datasource> entries. They will list the paths to the data. The project file is just a pointer to a file, or service, and it can come from a range of sources. – Nathan W Dec 17 '13 at 0:00
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    If the paths are saved relatively in the XML file, it is a bit painful to get the exact location. – AndreJ Dec 17 '13 at 5:09
  • They might be. I have spent about an hour today trawling through the .gis project file without finding anything. Everything above the lines where applets are checked is nothing but unreadable signs - at least to me. No references to internal or external directories. – Henrik Dec 17 '13 at 21:02

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