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How to Recover Files from Formatted Hard Drive

How to Recover Files from Formatted Hard Drive

Losing important data from a formatted hard drive can be a distressing experience, especially when it includes precious memories or critical documents. However, with the right tools and techniques, it is possible to recover these lost files. In this article, we’ll explore how to recover files from a formatted hard drive using the reputable data recovery software.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Formatting

  • Opting for a quick format instead of a simple file deletion.
  • Error while creating or modifying partitions leads to unavoidable formatting.
  • Confusing external drives and formatting the wrong one.

Reinstallation Mishaps

  • Fresh OS installation requiring a disk format, without proper data backup beforehand.
  • Unintended format of a second internal drive during OS installation.

Drive Corruption Issues

  • Encountering a corrupted file system that prompts a format for further use.
  • Malware or virus infections leading to drive contents being formatted.


Step-by-Step Guide. Recovering Files From Formatted Hard Drive:

Method 1: Using Disk Drill

  • Download and install Disk Drill from Corporate website.
  • Launch Disk Drill and select the formatted hard drive from the list of available drives.
  • Click on the ‘Recover’ button to initiate the scanning process.
  • Preview and select the files you wish to recover from the scanning results.
  • Choose a recovery destination that is different from the source drive and recover your files.

Note: Avoid using the formatted hard drive for any new data to prevent overwriting the lost files.

Conclusion: Disk Drill provides a user-friendly interface and powerful scanning algorithms to recover files from formatted drives effectively.

Method 2: Restore from a Backup

  • Connected the external drive containing your backup.
  • Navigate to the backup folder and locate the files you need.
  • Copy the files back to your primary hard drive.

Note: This method depends on having an up-to-date backup prior to formatting.

Conclusion: Regular backups can save a lot of hassle and ensure data safety in case of accidental formatting.

Method 3: Using File History

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security > Backup on your Windows machine.
  • Select ‘More options’ under the ‘Back up using File History’ section.
  • Click on ‘Restore files from a current backup’.
  • Browse through the backups and select the files to restore.

Note: File History needs to be enabled prior to data loss to function as a recovery method.

Conclusion: Windows File History can serve as a great tool for recovering files if it’s been set up in advance.

Method 4: Using Previous Versions

  • Navigate to the folder that contained the now-formatted files.
  • Right-click and select ‘Restore previous versions’.
  • Choose a version before the hard drive was formatted.
  • Click on ‘Restore’ to get your files back.

Note: The ‘Previous Versions’ feature works best if system protection was enabled before the drive was formatted.

Conclusion: Utilizing ‘Previous Versions’ in Windows can be a viable option for recovering files without using third-party software.

Method 5: Contacting a Professional Data Recovery Service

  • Research and select a reputable data recovery service with good reviews.
  • Send your formatted hard drive to the service for assessment.
  • Get a quote for the recovery and decide if you want to proceed.
  • Wait for the recovery process to be completed and have your files returned.

Note: Professional services can be expensive, but they offer high success rates in complex recovery scenarios.

Conclusion: Though costly, professional data recovery services are a good last resort when software recovery methods fail.


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Precautions and Tips:

Stay Prepared

  • Maintain regular backups of your critical data to reduce the risk of permanent loss.
  • Keep your antivirus software updated to prevent malware and virus attacks that could lead to data corruption and subsequent formatting.
  • Avoid using your hard drive after formatting to prevent overwriting recoverable data.
  • Consider enabling system protection and file history features on Windows for easier recovery of previous file versions.


Data Protection Strategies

Ensuring the safety of your data involves a combination of good practices and the use of reliable tools. It’s crucial to develop a habit of creating regular backups, which can be through local storage devices like external hard drives or via cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive. The key is to have multiple copies of your data in case one becomes inaccessible.

Antivirus solutions, such as Norton Antivirus or Bitdefender, are essential for preventing malware that might damage or necessitate the formatting of your drive. Remember, prevention is better than cure.

Encryption tools, like VeraCrypt, can protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, even if your hard drive gets into the wrong hands. Moreover, understanding features like Windows’ system protection can provide a safeguard, enabling you to restore your system and files to a previous state.

It’s also wise to be acquainted with your operating system’s recovery options. For instance, Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) can help troubleshoot and repair common issues that might lead to data loss.

Lastly, stay informed about the latest data recovery technologies and software updates. Joining forums or following tech blogs can provide insights and tips from other users and industry professionals.


In summary, while the event of a formatted hard drive can certainly cause a wave of panic, there is hope. By utilizing tools like Disk Drill, maintaining regular backups, and following best practices for data protection, you can vastly improve the odds of a successful file recovery. Remember, the key to effective data recovery lies in immediate action and the use of reliable tools. If you’ve tried these methods and still struggle to retrieve your data, it might be time to consult with professional data recovery services.


Yes, it's possible to recover files from a formatted hard drive using specialized data recovery software, as long as the data hasn't been overwritten.

Immediately stop using the hard drive to avoid data overwriting. Then, use a reliable data recovery tool to scan for recoverable files.

There are various options such as Disk Drill and Recuva to help recover files from a formatted drive.

Recovery isn't guaranteed for all files as it depends on whether the data has been overwritten or not.

The success rate largely depends on how much new data was written to the drive post-format and the efficiency of the recovery software.

Sometimes they will, but often file names and directories might be lost or changed; it varies with the recovery method used.

Yes, most data recovery tools allow you to filter and recover specific file types.

Professional data recovery services may be better for complex recoveries, but they can be more expensive than using software.

Adding more data to the drive, attempting to reformat it again, or physical damage to the drive can all hinder data recovery.

Regularly back up your data, be careful with formatting operations, and use a good antivirus program to avoid the need for future data recovery.