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I recently rooted my nexus 5 phone and lost all of my photos :( I was wondering what rooting actually does. Is it like formatting the disk and updating file tables or is it like deleting all the sectors? In the former case is it possible to recover my photos?

I used chainfire for rooting the phone. For that, I turned off the phone and turned it on while pressing +- volume buttons. Then I ran the script contained in Later I realized that all of my apps, photos, etc are gone. I don't care about the apps because they were automatically installed after setup. Just need to recover my photos.

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Note that, I used chainfire. – Mohammad Moghimi Dec 18 '13 at 18:36
Please edit your question with any additional information. Nexus devices don't support SD Cards, so I'm assuming you're talking about the sdcard partition? Rooting alone won't clear anything. Unlocking your bootloader (a common step in gaining first-time root), on the other hand, will perform a factory reset. – dotVezz Dec 18 '13 at 18:47
Where did you find the link to that tool? There were probably many warnings saying that it would perform a factory reset. If not, then you should contact the link provider and ask them to provide said warnings, then check out our data-recovery tag-wiki. – dotVezz Dec 18 '13 at 21:27

The Official XDA Discussion for CF Auto-Root (The tool OP linked) includes the following line:

Note that if your device had not been unlocked before, this procedure will wipe all your data!

So to answer your question:

  1. Does rooting format the /sdcard/ partition?

    No, rooting alone will not format the partition mounted at /sdcard/.

  2. When I root for the first time, or root using a tool, could this happen?

    Yes. When using a tool provided by a third party (EG: Not you or Google), then you're following the steps their tool defines.

    When you first gain root, one of the steps involves unlocking the bootloader. This is really only necessary once, Unlocking the bootloader will perform a full factory reset, erasing everything.

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is it possible to recover files? – Mohammad Moghimi Dec 19 '13 at 0:40
As I mentioned in my comment, you should check out data-recovery tag-wiki and other questions tagged with data-recovery. It may be possible, but not necessarily easy. – dotVezz Dec 19 '13 at 3:54

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