How to unformat hard drive?

In today’s digital world, our computers store a vast amount of data, ranging from personal files to important work documents. However, accidents happen, and one wrong click can lead to the accidental formatting of a hard drive, wiping out all the valuable data stored within. The good news is that there are ways to recover this formatted data, and this article will guide you through the process, step by step.

Understanding the Impact of Formatting

When you format a hard drive, whether accidentally or intentionally, you are essentially erasing the file system that organizes and keeps track of the data on your drive. However, the actual data itself remains intact until it is overwritten by new data. This means that with proper tools and techniques, you have a high chance of recovering your formatted hard drive.

1. Stop Using the Drive

The moment you realize that you have accidentally formatted your hard drive, it’s crucial to stop using it immediately. Continued use of the drive can lead to new data overwriting the old data, making it harder (or even impossible) to recover.

2. Use Data Recovery Software

The most effective way to unformat a hard drive is by using data recovery software. These programs are specifically designed to scan your drive for traces of the old data and recover it. Some popular options include Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and Stellar Data Recovery.

3. Connect the Affected Drive to Another Computer

If possible, disconnect the formatted hard drive from your current computer and connect it to another computer as a secondary drive. This will prevent any further data from being written to the formatted drive and increase your chances of successful data recovery.

4. Install and Run Data Recovery Software

After connecting the formatted drive to another computer, install the data recovery software you have chosen and run it. The software will begin scanning the drive, searching for any recoverable files.

5. Select the Drive and File Types to Recover

Once the software recognizes the formatted drive, select it as the target for the recovery. You may also choose the specific file types you want to recover, such as photos, documents, or videos, to make the scanning process faster.

6. Start the Recovery Process

Begin the recovery process by clicking on the designated button in the software. The software will then scan the formatted drive thoroughly, searching for any recoverable files.

7. Preview and Recover the Data

After the scanning process is complete, the software will display a list of recoverable files. Take some time to preview the files to ensure they are intact and recoverable. Once satisfied, select the files you wish to recover and proceed to the recovery options.

8. Save the Recovered Data to Another Drive

To prevent any potential data loss, it’s crucial to save the recovered data to a different drive. This can be an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, or cloud storage. Avoid saving the recovered data back to the same drive from which it was recovered.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Is there a guarantee that I will be able to recover all my formatted data?

A1: Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in data recovery. However, if you stop using the drive immediately and use appropriate data recovery software, your chances of successful recovery are significantly higher.

Q2: Are there any free data recovery software available?

A2: Yes, there are free data recovery software options available, such as Recuva, which offer basic recovery features and can be suitable for simple situations.

Q3: Can I recover data from a drive that has been formatted multiple times?

A3: Yes, it is possible to recover data from a drive that has been formatted multiple times, especially if the same data has not been overwritten.

Q4: Can I use data recovery software to unformat an external hard drive?

A4: Absolutely! Data recovery software is effective for unformatting external hard drives, internal drives, solid-state drives (SSD), and other storage devices.

Q5: Can I recover data from a partially formatted drive?

A5: Yes, data recovery software can help recover data from a partially formatted drive, but the chances of successful recovery may depend on the extent of formatting.

Q6: How long does the data recovery process take?

A6: The time required for data recovery varies depending on factors such as the size of the drive, the speed of the computer, and the extent of formatting. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

Q7: Can I recover data from a formatted drive that has been encrypted?

A7: Yes, you can recover data from a formatted and encrypted drive. However, the encryption process may complicate the recovery process, and you may require additional steps to decrypt the data.

Q8: Can I recover data from a drive that has physical damage?

A8: Data recovery from physically damaged drives requires professional assistance. It’s recommended to contact a data recovery service provider for such scenarios.

Q9: Do I need to be a tech expert to use data recovery software?

A9: No, most data recovery software comes with user-friendly interfaces and step-by-step guides, making it accessible to users of all technical skill levels.

Q10: Is there any risk of further data loss during the recovery process?

A10: There is a minimal risk of further data loss during the recovery process if you follow the recommended steps, stop using the drive, and avoid saving recovered data back to the same drive.

Q11: Can data recovery software recover files from a formatted SSD?

A11: Yes, data recovery software is capable of recovering files from a formatted solid-state drive (SSD) just like any other type of formatted drive.

Q12: Can I recover software programs and applications from a formatted drive?

A12: While it is possible to recover some software programs and applications, successful recovery depends on various factors, including the complexity of the program and the extent of formatting. It’s generally easier to recover documents, photos, videos, and other file types.


Accidental formatting of a hard drive can be a stressful experience, but with the right approach and data recovery software, you have a good chance of recovering your lost data. Remember to stop using the drive immediately, connect it to another computer, and run data recovery software. With patience and thorough scanning, you’ll be able to reclaim your invaluable files and documents.

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