Is It Possible to Recover Data from a Formatted Hard Drive?

It is quite frustrating that you format your hard drive by accident and find all data lost. You will try to recover the data by all means. This article will discuss about the possibility of successful data recovery from a formatted hard drive.

Many people think that it is impossible to recover lost data from a formatted hard drive. To be honest, in most situations, this is a wrong idea. The formatting done by us users is usually logical formatting, which will leave users a chance for data recovery, like PST recovery. Nevertheless, there is another kind of formatting – physical formatting. If you send your hard drive to the manufactures for this kind of formatting, data will be gone permanently. So in the followings, we will delve into the two kinds of formatting in depth and detail.

Possibility for Data Recovery on a Formatted Hard Drive

Physical Formatting

Physical formatting is also called as low-level formatting. In brief, this formatting is actually an initialization operation performed to a hard drive, which is usually done by hard drive manufacturers. In the early time, this kind of disk formatting was only aimed to divide the tracks, sectors, parts and cylinders of the drive. But today, it also refers to the zero-fill operation of drive.

Such formatting is usually performed by manufacturers when leaving the factory. Such formatting will erase and wipe the data on the drive forever, so will surely cause data loss. Hence, it is not suggested for users to perform such formatting unless encountering the following serious cases. For instance, your hard drive has gotten corrupted seriously that all other means cannot repair it or you want to hide any bad sectors or you want to entirely get rid of viruses, damaged drive partitions alike.

Logical Formatting

Unlike physical formatting, logical formatting (known as high-level formatting) is usually performed by users. Such formatting is done for purpose of initializing the drive partition or deleting file. More specifically, it’ll remove the data on the drive, create boot sector information, initialize file system and marking out the logical bad sectors. However, such formatting actually doesn’t erase the data on the drive, only the data on the address tables. So it is still possible to recover data after logical disk formatting. In general, users usually perform logical formatting for the following aims

  1. In order to restore their drive to a new drive for storing and managing data, to kill virus on the hard drive
  2. In order to kill the viruses on the drive. You may find that virus still existing on the drive after using antivirus software. In this case, logically formatting the drive may a good choice.
  3. In order to change the file system. As usual, a hard drive file system has been determined when it leaves the factory. Thus, if you want to change it, the only way is to reformat the drive.
  4. In order to resize the drive partition. Like changing file system, to change the drive partition size demand disk formatting as well.
  5. In order to regain access to the drive. Actually, drive getting inaccessible is pretty common. If you want to gain further access to the drive and its data, it is an advisable choice to format it.

In general, after logically formatting a hard drive, it is still possible to recover the data simply by any third party data recovery tools. However, it doesn’t refer to a 100% guaranteed matter. Therefore, you have to make sufficient precautions in prior to disk formatting, such as making a full and intact data backup.

Author Introduction:

Shirley Zhang is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including damaged mdf and outlook repair software products. For more information visit

Comments are closed.