FAT Recovery: Get Data Back for FAT Drive Quickly

If you are experiencing FAT data loss, keep reading this article to get the most effective FAT recovery method and undelete FAT16, FAT32 or exFAT files quickly.


By Ivy / Updated on July 26, 2023

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What Is FAT?

FAT is a type of file system but not primary. Over the years, the File Allocation Table has undergone several upgrades to fit larger hard drives and file sizes. Throughout its evolution, various versions of FAT emerged, starting with FAT8, followed by FAT12 in 1980 alongside the initial releases of DOS.

Notably, FAT12 was limited to supporting file names with a maximum of 8 characters and 3 others for an extension. In response to increasing requirements, Windows introduced the FAT16, FAT16B, FAT16X, and FAT32 file systems.


Among them, FAT32 is the most advanced version, released in 1996, and can accommodate basic drives up to 2TB and those with 16TB (using 64KB clusters) of space. In addition, an adjusted version of FAT32, known as FAT32+, supports file sizes of up to 256GB.

Finally, there's the exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) file system, discovered by MS in 2006 and designed specifically for flash drives, SDXC cards, and SDHC cards instead of a better FAT32 file system.

The Structure of a FAT File System

The layout of the file allocation table consists of four sections: boot sector, FAT table, root directory, and the data area. The boot sector, located at sector 0 of the disk, contains the number of clusters & sectors and defines the size of each sector. The cluster size is determined by the volume size and can be as large as 64KB. Specified sizes must be listed in the FAT16 or FAT31 cluster sizes table.

The primary difference between FAT16 and FAT32 is the size of the logical partition. FAT32 extends a single logical drive volume to 127GB or higher, while FAT16 restricts logical drive to a maximum of 2GB. As a result, a 2GB FAT16 logical drive must use a 32KB cluster, whereas a FAT32 drive with a 4KB cluster range from 512MB to 8GB.

Reasons behind FAT Hard Drive Data Loss

Similar to other types of hard drives, those utilizing FAT16, FAT32, and exFAT file systems are susceptible to data loss. Below are some common reasons:

  • Accidental deletion: Mistakenly deleting FAT partitions or data on it may result in data loss. But Windows only deletes the references at first instead of sectors really contain your data.
  • Formatting: This often occurs when handling memory cards and USB drives, leading to data loss if these devices are abruptly formatted.
  • Partition data corruption: This can happen during attempts to build a multi-OS or dual-OS system.
  • Corrupted partition table: Abrupt power loss or removing FAT drives without closing ongoing read/write sessions may lead to a corrupted partition table.
  • ...

The Best Practice for FAT Recovery

MyRecover, one of top reliable data recovery software, is able to handle data loss in FAT16 or FAT32 drives effectively. With its two advanced scanning methods, you can find as many files as possible and undeleted FAT16/32 files completely, regardless of your data loss scenarios and storage devices.

Recover files lost in any scenario, such as accidental deletion, formatting, virus infection, corrupted disk, etc.
Support a wide range of file types, surpassing 200+ file formats. So you can use it to recover deleted X3F/HEIF/JPG images, X3D/MXF/MP4 videos, DOC/DOCX/TXT/XLS documents and any common file types.
File filtering: Its Filter feature helps you to quickly narrow down to different file types, such as images, videos, documents, audios, mails, compressed files, etc. You can also set the date modified and size.   
Multiple storage devices compatible, such as internal or external disk, flash drive, memory cards, etc.
No technical expertise required and novice friendly.  

Now please download and install this reliable Windows data recovery software. Compatible with all versions of Windows systems (32bit and 64bit), including Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc, and Windows Server.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect your FAT drive to a Windows PC. Launch this reliable data recovery software - MyRecover, select your device, and click Start Scan.

Select Partition to Scan

Step 2. It will run Quick Scan and Deep Scan automatically to search and display all the deleted or lost files there. To locate them quickly, use the Filter feature or go to the original location in the left panel.


Step 3. Then, select your desired files and click Recover x files to undelete FAT16/32 files. You will then be asked to select a location. Please select a new location instead of the original location to prevent potential data overwriting.



  • The restore button will display the number of selected files and their full size. You can use it to determine the integrity of the recovered files.
  • You can get data back from FAT16/32 drive for free, up to 30MB each time. To recover all files, please upgrade to the advanced editions.
  • In addition, you still can use this software to recover deleted files in Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019, etc.

Sometimes, you may fail to get data back for FAT drive using data recovery software. At this time, your drive may be severely damaged or has physical damage, you’d better seek assistance with data recovery services. They possess specialized tools and expertise to handle complex recovery situations.

Bonus Tips to Prevent FAT Drive Data Loss

As evident, data loss in FAT16, FAT32, and exFAT hard drives can arise from a variety of situations similar to other drives. To safeguard FAT drives, it’s necessary to do some precautions prior to data loss.

  • Backup Regularly: Employ a complete Windows backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard and create a scheduled backup task automatically. In addition, save these files to two different locations, one of which is offsite, such as external disk, share or NAS drive, cloud drive, etc.
  • Use a UPS: In fact, it is essentially a battery backup. In the event of a power outage, your Windows PC still can run for a short while. You can then save your unsaved work and shut down your Windows PC before it crashes.
  • Be particularly cautious during dual-operating system or multi-operating system installations.
  • Take your FAT drive carefully: Always use the safe eject option to remove your FAT drive physically. Don’t abrupt interruptions in read/write sessions. Don’t format the FAT drive if there are important data.


Fat recovery is necessary if you are experiencing data loss scenarios, such as accidental deletion, formatting, etc, which helps you get data back for FAT drive quickly. Speaking of the recovery method, you can find many, but the best practice is to use reliable data recovery software like MyRecover. Usually, it can recover as many files as possible, with a success rate of more than 95%. In addition, don’t forget to backup your files regularly.


1. Is it possible to undelete FAT files?

Yes! When you delete a file in FAT drive, Windows only delete the first character of the directory entry. The sectors actually include data are marked as “free” space. So before your data is overwritten, you are able to get data back for FAT drive. 

2. How to recover deleted files from FAT drive

Speaking of FAT recovery, the best method is to use the backup image. Unfortunately, most users do not have one. If so, try data recovery software like MyRecover.

3. How do I recover NTFS files?

Similar to FAT drive, the prior choice is to consider using backup images created by backup software, such as File History, Backup and Restore, etc. You can refer to restore files from backup. If there is no backup, try data recovery software or services, depending on the damage severity and data overwriting.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.