A quick search online will bring up hundreds of file recovery utilities that try to retrieve your documents from formatted drives. However, the chance of a post format data recovery being successful depends on three main things. This article runs through these 3 key factors Affecting a Post Format Data Recovery and explains what formatting a disk actually does to your data.
3 Key Factors Affecting a Post Format Data Recovery
Formatting data on a hard drive may not actually completely clear your files.
Invariably, the process will only remove indexes or references to your files (usually in the file allocation table, FAT, system file) but leave the associated data clusters on the hard disk. This omission is done to speed up the process and leaves the data clusters free to be reused when other files/data needs to be saved.
The first factor affecting successful post format data recovery will be how promptly you attempt the retrieval.
If the computer is continually being used then even tasks like browsing online or running a virus scan will begin writing temporary files to the disk overwriting the original data clusters.
The second point, which will halt you post format data recovery efforts entirely, is if evidence clearance processes where used when formatting. Some data clearing tools will repeatedly write random documents to disk just in order to overwrite the data clusters. They may not manage to wipe clear all the clusters, but these tools will generally clear a high percentage of data forever.
Finally, the data recovery software you use will play a part in how many files will be found.
Some low-end tools require a file allocation table with document indexes in order to piece back together the data clusters. Higher end commercial tools are more sophisticated in their approach, not requiring the FAT for document information and can scan the hard disk for clusters that can be pieced back together to form recognizable documents.