Formatted Data Recovery: What You Should Know Before You Buy

by Rod Dunne on August 6, 2010

in Articles, Data Recovery

  • Share
  • Share

There are dozens of formatted data recovery software utilities available online with the capability to recover hard drive data. However, the success rate of these products can vary greatly based on three key factors.

Here, we’ll look into how it is technically possible to recover formatted data and the 3 critical success factors.

#1: Choice of Formatted Data Recovery Software

The software you use can be a big determinant of formatted data recovery success. Formatting a hard drive will in some cases only leave the data clusters on the disk for the software to piece back together into recognizable documents.

The better applications can handle these low-level computer forensics to re-assemble clusters. Many freeware applications however will be dependent on a full file allocation table (FAT) as this details each file/document and how it is then represented as data clusters dispersed around the disk.

The best post format data recovery option is to try out a few applications (using trial/free scans) to test which recover formatted files the best.

If you observe exceptions stating that the file system has reverted back to the raw format, then you should read our article on raw data recovery as you will require specialist software to retrieve the files in this instance.

Recommended Tools:

  • Remo Undelete: Popular deleted/formatted data recovery software for home users. Supports both FAT & NTFS. Comes with a free trial scan.

#2: Ongoing Computer Usage

The chance of being able to recover formatted files steadily declines as the computer is used. Formatting a drive may not clear data clusters off of the disk drive, but it does declare these clusters as available for re-use. Even using the computer to browse online will write system and temp files to disk, potentially using those clusters marked as available.

For this reason, try to recover formatted data as promptly as possible. Our article on external hard drive data recovery lists 5 common mistakes that can impact your chances of finding lost data.

#3: Evidence Wiping/Hard Drive Erasers

Finally, a post format data recovery may be futile if evidence wiping/clearing tools have been used. Some commercial hard drive eraser applications offer these types of features that repeatedly run a sweep of the disk writing files to any available data clusters.

While these tools may not succeed in clearing 100% of the data clusters, your formatted data recovery software may be only able to recover formatted data fragments. The area of computer forensics and data recovery services will have additional expertize (tools & software) that may be able to retrieve more data than regular commercial tools.

Previous post:

Next post: