How To Recover Lost Data From a Formatted Drive in 7 Steps

September 07, 2017 Khadizatul Kubra 0 Comments

Today, we’ll take it one step further and look at the steps involved in recovering lost data from a formatted drive. Then, we’ll discuss what to do to keep yourself out of these predicaments to begin with. Before we can begin, there are a few basics we need to go over.The Basics That You Need to Know When Using Data Recovery Software

  • If possible do a back-up before you try the recovery
  • Don’t install the software on the drive that has the problem
  • Be sure to save the recovered files someplace other than the problem drive

Installing the recovery software on the unstable drive could write on top of your files. This is a no-brainer if you are trying to recover removable storage like the below example.

In this case you don’t have to do anything special. However, there is an extra step if you want to recover an internal drive. 
When recovering an internal drive, you will have to remove the unstable hard drive and connect to a stable computer with a stable operating system. I have dealt with this in the past and had decided to purchase a case that turns my hard drive into an USB connected external hard drive.
This is the cleanest and easiest way but has an additional cost (approximate $10-30depending on quality and appearance of the case) and slows down the scan because it is running through USB. Buying this is unavoidable in most instances when you are trying to recover a laptop hard drive. 
If it is a tower you are attempting to recover, you can bust open a second tower and plug in the unstable hard drive. Then you should see the unstable drive show up in (My) Computer or in Disk Management.
You may, or may not, be able to see some of the files you are looking for without any recovery software at all.
A Step-by-Step Example of How to Use a Data Recovery Product
If you remember from my last article, all the files were absent from my frantic mother-in-law’s USB flash drive.I am still not sure exactly what happened to it, but my theory is that a coworker had inadvertently done a quick format, perhaps when hastily clicking through prompts. The actual name of the drive was changed to “public”, along with the fact that all of her files had gone missing, hinted me to this conclusion.I knew right away that using a data recovery program was the route for me. There was no physical damage, and system restore was not an option. 

As mentioned last time, I already had GetDataBack for NTFS from a previous mishap. I decided to use their FAT version too because I was familiar with the software.

If I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have chosen that product. The reason is not that it is a bad product; actually it worked quite well and was rather intuitive. I just wish I had paid for one product that did both file systems.

Now let’s get started. I have recreated the problem and will take you step by step through recovering the files.
I decided to try out a different program this time. They have very different GUIs, but the results were the same. Here are the steps I took using Recover My Files on a USB flash drive from a computer runningVista Professional.

Have the drive you want to recover attached to a computer with an operating system. In my case I simply had to plug the USB flash drive into my computer.

Step 2

Download and install the free version of Recover My Files. Don’t forget that you need to install it someplace other than the drive that you want to recover.

Step 3

Start Recover My Files. You have 4 general options.
The first two are for files that you accidentally deleted. Use the second two if you want to recover after a format. I chose Complete Format Recover and then clicked next.

Step 4

Next an information box comes up that tells you when to choose a physical drive and when to pick a logical one. The program tells you to choose a physical drive if you have simply reformatted, and choose a logical one if you have already installed something on the drive.
The logical version of the drives will show up with their normal names. The physical version will be numbered.
I chose physical number 1. You should never be choosing number 0 because that would mean you are trying to recover the main (boot) drive that you are running the program from. Click next.

Step 5

The next window asks you for the main types of files that you want to recover. It seems like the point of this step is simply to confuse you or worry you unnecessarily.

GetDataBack didn’t have a step like this. I’m sure it is for a very important super efficient algorithm. You don’t need to rack your brain trying to remember all of the file types you had on the disk. It assures you that all of your files will be recovered even if you don’t select all your file types.

Allow for about an hour to scan 50 GB of space or even longer if you are scanning via USB. The program will maintain a list of how many files found so far in the small window, and break down the list by file type in the left pane of the main window under the file type view.

Step 6

When the scan is done you see a list of all your recovered files.
In my case the files lost their names, but they open fine. You can preview them in the lower right part of the window. Click the check box on the files you want to save, or click the box next to the name of the drive to select all the files.

Step 7

Next, click the save button. If you only have a trial version, this will be the time when you will need to obtain and enter your license key.
Direct the program to save the files anywhere other than the drive you recovered. Once your files are saved you can close the Recover My Files Program.

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