This article shows you how to recover formatted data from hard disk partitions using readily available software solutions. It also details a major problem affecting file retrieval on formatted disks.
The steps involved to recover USB data or hard drive data are the same no matter what type of memory device or formatting was done. Proceed as follows:
- Download a suitable data recovery application. A recommended and popular tool for use on internal hard drives and USB flash devices is Remo Undelete.
- Install the program on any partition except the one that was formatted. The reason for doing this is in order to ensure that the installation files do not begin to overwrite any of your original data (from before the formatting).
- Launch the application. You will be prompted to select a drive for analysis. At this point you should choose the formatted disk/partition.
- The software application will attempt to recover formatted data by analyzing data clusters on the disk. Each document is represented by several clusters located around the drive. The formatting process will clear the file allocation table which has details of how these clusters can be pieced back together to form your original file. For this reason, your data recovery application will try to piece them back together using its own logic.
- When the scan is complete, review the list of found files and clone whichever ones you need back onto an external hard drive or separate partition. Again, do not use the formatted partition copy the files onto as this could overwrite documents.
Recommended Data Recovery Software
Remo Undelete: Works on IDE / ATA / SATA / SCSI hard disk drives, SD Cards, Memory Sticks, Zip drives and USB hard drives, All Windows OS; Free trial scan.
Factors affecting success
The major factor affecting your ability to recover USB contents/hard disk files will be the nature of the formatting process that was used. If a formatting tool containing a data protection sweep was run then this can potentially overwrite data clusters repeatedly with blank data to ensure your data pretty. In this case, many read file retrieval applications will fail to find even fragments of your old files.
When reviewing the list of found files you may observe that filenames are not easily recognized. This is due to the fact that formatting clears down the file allocation table which contains the user-friendly filenames. The workaround for this is to copy/clone documents according to file type onto new disk/partition and then search through them in order to find any specific documents you wish to work on.