Formatted Hard Drives and Data Recovery

Formatting refers to an operation performed on a disk to prepare it for data storage. But is data recovery possible on an accidentally formatted hard drive? The short answer is – it depends.

You must format a hard disk drive before you can use it; formatting erases all bookkeeping information on the disk, and tests the disk to make sure that all the sectors are reliable, then creates internal address tables that are used to locate information. When you format a disk, the data isn’t actually erased, only the data on the address tables is. So if you do accidentally format a drive, don’t panic – data recovery might still be viable.

The most important thing to remember, however, is not to write any data to the formatted hard drive if you want to get your old files back. While data is randomly written to the disk, if you overwrite it to the location of the data you want to recover, you’ll render it unrecoverable. It’s best to disconnect your hard disk drive from your machine, as data may still be written to the drive without you realising.

There are several tools you can use for data recovery in this instance, but we’d recommend trying EaseUS Data Recovery first. Upon launching the program, select the disk you want to recover data from and click the ‘Scan’ button. At this point, EaseUS will quickly scan your disk and try and identify files that can be recovered. It will then run a secondary, deeper scan to find more lost data. When the scan is finished, it will provide a list of files that are recoverable from your hard disk, which can be sorted according to size, date and file type. Click the ‘Recover’ button, and browse for a folder to save the files to. You should make sure that you don’t save your data to the disk in question, as you run the risk of overwriting information that you may want to get back in the future. Instead select another device, like a USB flash drive.

When you format a hard drive using a PC, it’s what’s known as high-level formatting, also known as logical formatting. This is required to initialise a drive so that it can be used to store data on, to kill a virus that has infected it or to change the file system/drive size. Low-level formatting, on the other hand, is performed by hard drive manufacturers before the devices leave the factory. A low-level format should be a last resort, in case of a badly damaged hard drive. Data recovery from a hard disk that has been through a low-level partition can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

Data Recovery