Recover Formatted Data: Top 5 Barriers To Success

by Rod Dunne on April 26, 2011

in Data Recovery

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By using data recovery software it should be possible to recover formatted data in the majority of cases. However some factors which are often outside of your control may impede successful file retrieval. This post shows you what the top 5 issues affecting data recovery applications are.

Leaving a time delay between formatting and data recovery
If you try to recover USB flash drive contents or hard disk contents months after the drive was formatted then you will often find your data is gone. Any continued usage of hard drive memory for running applications or storing new files will gradually begin to overwrite your original data. Data clusters belonging to formatted files are not immediately deleted but left available for reuse for storing any new documents.

The choice of formatting tool used
Some formatting applications include data protection features to overwrite/cleanse your drive of personal information. This is done by writing random/blank information to the original data clusters which will completely clear your pre-formatted files. No software tool will be able to recover formatted data if these features have been enabled.

Using disk repair/defragmentation tools
Disk checking utilities (such as Microsoft’s) can attempt to repair bad sectors on your drive. Unfortunately, the repair process can cause the application to reuse any available disk space and may make use of data clusters belonging to files from the pre-formatted disk. Likewise, disk defragmentation utilities also make use of any empty space or data clusters marked available for use so can also accelerate the overwriting your original files.

Obfuscation of filenames
One slight hindrance when using data recovery tools is that the formatting process will clear down the file allocation table of your user-friendly filenames. The list of found files which these applications will identify with seem unrecognizable to you. The solution is to copy them to a new location and simply search them for specific files you want.

The choice of data recovery software
Finally, data recovery applications have to try and piece together various data clusters to form your files. They will not have the file allocation table to help them complete this process (it associates an individual file name with the several data clusters addresses representing the document contents on disk), so most use their own logic. Some applications are better at doing this than others so it is worth trying the free trial scans of several data recovery applications to find out which works best on your system.

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