What’s Best Unformat Tool to Recover Formatted Drive for Lost Data?

hard disk drive

So you just formatted a disk without realizing that you had some precious files in it, and wondered if it is possible to perform "unformat" so you can recover the data? Whether you use an external hard drive, a memory card or a USB flash, it doesn't matter.

Question answer is - no, there is no such unformat tool or function on any digital device, not to that I am aware of at least so far. Once you reformat a disk drive, it will be cleaned and you'll see more free space available immediately.

BUT, your data doesn't have to be lost for good. What do I mean?

Keep reading and you'll understand why. And most importantly I'm going to show you how to get back the "missing" files step by step.

Note: if you are using an SSD (solid-state drive), once you format it or delete something out of it, the data will be permanently gone instantly. This is due to the way how SSDs organize files. Sadly you can't recover the data unless you have backups.

What happens when you format a drive?

For a standard hard disk drive (HDD) or flash card which was originally initiated with FAT or NTFS file system. When you perform a quick format or complete format via your computer or a digital device e.g. camera, those formatted data are still stored on the disk — but become "invisible" or inaccessible.

What happens is that only the header information related to these files are removed by the file system, and the system indicates the space those files took are now set free to be written over (by new files). However, the data contained in your formatted files are still intact unless you keep generating new files.

Important! — Stop what you are doing

See? The key to whether the files are recoverable or not relies on if the "space" is overwritten. So, it's critical that should immediately stop using the computer or device the moment you format the drive. The more you use, the higher chances you're generating new data that could occupy the "space". Next, follow the guide below to "unformat" (aka, recover) your data.

Recovering formatted drive: a step by step guide

  • Step 1: Connect your external drive (HDD, USB, memory card, etc.) to your PC or Mac. Make sure it can be recognized by your computer.
  • Step 2: Get a data recovery software that's capable of handling format recovery. For Windows PC, I recommend Stellar Windows Data Recovery. For Macs, try Remo Recover Mac. Download and install the program correctly on your computer.
  • Step 3: Now open the software, read the instructions on the interface. Follow them and have a scan of your formatted drive. It can take some time if your disk has a large volume (e.g. it may take a few hours for a 500GB external HDD). So be patient.
  • Step 4: Once the scan is complete, navigate through the found file list to check if your lost items are there. Then recover and save them.


I hope you find this guide helpful. It's frustrating and angry if you have accidentally formatted a disk drive (or you have to because of some weird formatting errors) and lost precious data. Though there is no such unformat or reverse option, it's often possible to get the data back as long as you act quickly and take proper steps.

Once again, before you use data recovery software, DO NOT attempt to save more files to the formatted drive in case you significantly decrease chances of recovery due to data overwriting.

Jessica Carrell

Jessica is a senior editor at AnySoftwareTools. She is based out of the Silicon Valley and keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS based startups.

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