How To Recover Formatted Hard Drive Data

by Rod Dunne on October 28, 2010

in Data Recovery

Recover Formatted Hard Drive | Steps, Tips And Software Used For Recovering Files After Formatting A Disk Drive
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By using file recovery tools, it is possible for even novices to recover formatted hard drive data. However, as with many home PC repairs, there is no guarantee of being able to successfully recover all your files. In this article, we’ll show how to recover hard drive contents after a disk is being formatted, along with detailing the main factors affecting a full and complete data recovery.

When a hard drive is formatted, your data is not wiped from the disk memory. Technically, it is only the document index references in the file allocation table which are cleared away. The actual contents of your files are still on the hard drive memory (stored as data clusters). Hard drive recovery software can be used to read the drive and identify these clusters.

Suggested hard drive recovery software

The following Windows-based utilities can be used to recover formatted hard drive contents from FAT/NTFS based hard drives. They can also be used on many different types of external storage device (e.g. external hard drives, USB Flash memory devices, et cetera). Both presently provide a free trial scan.

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

Steps for hard drive data recovery

The steps for hard drive data recovery are the same no matter which application you use. The steps are as follows:

  1. Install and run your data recovery tool.
  2. Pick the option to scan a chosen hard drive for analysis by the program. Choose the drive that you formatted and begin the scan.
  3. The file recovery tool will read the hard drive memory to try to identify and recover hard drive data clusters that belong to complete documents.
  4. Once the scan completes, review the list of found files and choose whichever documents you need to copy to a new folder/directory.

Factors affecting hard drive recovery

Most hard drive recovery software can be quite successful if it is run directly after a drive has been formatted. However, the ability to find data can depend on a number of key factors:

  • Ongoing usage: If you continue to use the hard drive for storing data then this will gradually begin to overwrite your formatted files (i.e. the data clusters). Even running applications will result in temporary files being created that are stored to disk. Your best chance of being able to recover formatted hard drive contents is right before any new applications or operating system programs are installed, or any new documents are stored to the disk.
  • Choice of formatting tool: Most standard formatting utilities will simply clear down the file application table making it possible to read the data clusters. However, if you use a more specialist data cleaning/formatting utility which attempts to wipe all evidence of personal data from the drive (by overwriting the data clusters) then using data recovery software will be completely ineffective as your data will thoroughly lost for good.
  • Choice of software: Data recovery tools need to reassemble the clusters into complete documents in a manner which would resemble piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Some tools have been developed with more specialist forensic techniques and algorithms which specialize in piecing together your lost data clusters. As a result, you may find that some tools will be better able to recover formatted hard drive data than others.

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