Recover Formatted Data: Top 3 Blockers to Retrieving All Your Documents

by Rod Dunne on December 13, 2010

in Data Recovery

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There are plenty of software utilities out there to help you recover formatted data. However, the chances of a post format data recovery successfully retrieving all your files is blocked by 3 factors. Here, we’ll look at these factors and how they reduce the chance of you being able to recover lost data.

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1: The Choice Of Recovery Software

To recover data from a formatted hard drive will always require software to find your lost documents. If you are fortunate enough that the formatting process has not over-written the data clusters on the hard drive then tools like Remo Undelete are capable of scanning the drive, finding these clusters and reassembling them back into documents that you can copy back onto your computer.

The clusters can be dispersed around the hard drive so each software vendor has to use different approaches and algorithms for identifying which clusters are meant to go together. The more advanced tools put a lot of coding/analysis work into recovering formatted data when all you have to work on is the jumble of data clusters on the disk. You can often recover formatted files once after the hard drive has been cleared especially if the disk is not being used too often.

Whereas, freeware options are often depending on the file allocation table (FAT) being relatively unchanged in order to identify clusters on your disk.

Be sure to also get the right software for the purpose/file system. Most general tools support the FAT32 file system so will work with internal drives, flash memory devices and many external drives. However, Zip disk data recovery requires specialist software that is useless on any other format.

Data recovery services will have high-end (i.e. expensive) applications for formatted data recovery that can work solely with partial data clusters – though these tools are more regularly used for computer forensics and legal proceedings.

Note: The FAT keeps an index of files/documents on your computer and associates a document name with the multiple data clusters on the hard drive which store the file contents.

2: Data/Evidence Wiping

Most formatting processes do not completely wipe the drive of information. It is only when evidence wiping sweeps are used by the process are the FAT and data clusters over-written, making recovering formatted data impossible.

Some formatting processes will only reset the FAT index to show that documents do not have a designated directory/folder, so your Windows data recovery software can easily read the FAT and identify the clusters that make up your files.

You can still recover formatted data if the FAT has been wiped clean of document references, just so long as the data clusters have been left on the hard drive untouched. In this case, your format recovery software has to work a little harder to recover data from formatted devices as it can only analyze the clusters to find recognizable documents.

3: Continued Usage Of The Formatted Hard Drive

The success rate of a post format data recovery tapers off the more the formatted device is being used.

By formatting a device, the majority of data clusters on the disk drive are flagged as being available to be reused for writing files to. Over time, the operating system (OS) will write to these clusters and your documents will be lost forever.

The best time to recover data from a formatted hard drive is straight after formatting has occurred. Be aware that reinstalling Windows on the drive will over-write huge amounts of files on the drive in an instant.

Recommended Software

Remo Undelete: FAT/NTFS support, All Windows OS; Now comes with a FREE trial scan.

Remo Undelete | PC Maintenance Software | Click Here For A Free Scan

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