How to Recover Files from Formatted Hard Drive (3 Ways)

Accidentally formatted hard drive in Windows 10? How to recover files from formatted hard drive in Windows 10 or 11? Read this article to get 3 effective methods and steps to perform data recovery.


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Can I recover files from formatted hard drive?

"I can't find any way to recover data from the formatted hard drive. I'm using WD Passport 2 TB external hard drive without facing any problems. But I pressed the quick format button by accident. Soon I realized that an important file was in it. What can I do?? How do I recover files from the formatted hard drive?"

- Question from Spiceworks Community

It’s frustrating to find your important files were in the drive after you format it. You lose access to it and want to recover files from formatted hard drive. I can tell you for sure that it is possible. Here are two popular ways, namely using prossional data recovery software and to restore from file backup.

But first? There are a few things you need to know.

  • You need to stop using this drive, for example, don’t add new items to the formatted hard disk, otherwise,your files will be overwritten.
  • The data recovery difficulty varies from disk types (HDDs and SSDs) and formatting types (Quick or Full format).

HDDs keep physical memories of your data when you format a disk, so you can easily recover files from it. However, SSDs lose all data if your format it. It uses a TRIM command to decide and it will wipe all the data blocks completely.

Quick format simply delete files from the drive and does not overwrite it, so you can easily recover files. But the full format method not only delete files, but also overwrite it with zeros. If you use this method, you cannot recover data from it.

How to recover data from formatted hard disk

Here we will introduce you to 3 effective methods to recover data from formatted hard disk in Windows 10 or 11. The most direct one is to use data recovery software. Also, you can recover data from formatted hard disk without software, such as, using cmd or backup image.

Method 1: Recover deleted files from formatted hard drive with MyRecover

MyRecover is a professional data recovery software to recover deleted files from formatted hard drive in Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc and Windows Server, up to 500MB for free in total.

  • Recovers data from formatted hard drives (eg: restores permanently deleted files from HDD), USB drive, SD card, etc. 
  • Automatically start a quick scan and deep scan to find all files in the accidentally formatted hard drive.
  • Recover lost Word documents, Excel files, photos, videos, audio, emails, and more than 200 file types.
  • Keep the original file name, format, and path after recovery.
  • Recover data from formatted hard disk with a high success rate and fast speed.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
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Step 1. Launch free data recovery software - MyRecover. Hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.


Step 2. The program runs the scanning process automatically and quickly to find files on the formatted disk partition. You can directly recover files, even if the process is not complete. you want. 


You can also use the Filter feature to search the Word files to locate deleted files faster. It has 3 options in the following:

  • Type: It will contain all the file types in the local drive, such as, images, videos, documents, mails, webpage, compressed files, etc.
  • Data Modified: It supports today, yesterday, last 7 days, last 30 days, and custom. To recover deleted files at a specific time period, try the last option.
  • Size: It allows you to filter file size from less than 128KB to 128KB ~1MB to 1MB ~ 512MB and above, or custom.

To recover files from formatted hard drive, Word document, for example, click Filter > Type and select Documents. Then, input DOCX in the Search for files or folders box. It will list all of the deleted Word documents in the following window.

Search for Word Files

Step 3. Select the files or the folders you want to recover from formatted hard disk and click "Recover files" to recover files from formatted hard drive partition. It will display the number of files and the total file size.



Method 2: Recover data from formatted hard disk with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

If you create a file backup in Windows 10 or 11 with Backup and Restore (Windows 7), you can restore files from it. All the backed up files will be included.

Step 1. Go to “Control Panel” > “System and Security”and select“Backup and Restore (Windows 7)”. Then, click “Restore my files”.

Restore My Files

Note: If you are using Windows 11, please go to “Settings” > “System” > “Storage” > “Advanced Storage options” > “Backup options”. Then, scroll down to “Looking for an older backup” and click “Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)”.

Step 2: Click “Search…”, “Browse for files”, and “Browse for folders” option to find your deleted files or folders.

  • Search: type part of the name of files and select the deleted files to restore.
  • Browse for files: navigate to the folder containing deleted files from Recycle Bin and select it. Then, click Add Files.
  • Browse for folders: select the entire folder with deleted files.  

Restore Files

Step 3. Select a location to restore deleted files from Recycle Bin. You can choose the original location or browse to a new location. Then, click Start Restore.

Note: If you still don’t have a file backup, you can create one after recovery. Please refer to backup files to external hard drive.

Method 3: Recover files from formatted hard drive free with Windows File Recovery

Windows File Recovery is a command-line app to help users recover files from local storage devices like hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, and memory cards. It requires users to learn its syntax, recovery mode and switches.

The syntax: 

winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]


The recovery mode corresponding to different file system and scenarios:

File system




Deleted recently



Deleted for a while



Formatted disk



corrupted disk


FAT and exFAT



The switches of winfr:



Supported mode(s)


Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc.



Recovers specific extension groups.



Recovers system files.

NTFS Segment​​​​​


Segment mode; recovers files under NTFS drives using file record segments.



Signature mode; recovers files under all file system types using file headers.



Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin.

NTFS Segment

For details, go to how to use Windows File Recovery

Besides, you still need to check the file system of the formatted hard drive. Because different file system has different modes to use. It’s advised to choose extensive for the NTFS file system after formatting the disk.​

Right-click the hard drive and select “Properties”. Then, locate the file system option and confirm its NTFS or FAT32. 


Step 1. Download and install Windows File Recovery from Microsoft Store. Type “Windows File Recovery” in the Search box and select “Run as administrator”.


Step 2. Type command based on example and press “Enter” to recover files. To recover the folder “Test” from the formatted F: drive (NTFS) to E: drive, type:

winfr F: E: /extensive /n \Test\


  • The source and target drives must not be the same. 
  • The tool supports only Windows 10, version 2004 and above.
  • You can try Windows File Recovery, but it may not retrieve your deleted files every time. And you may encounter errors during the file recovery process, such as, “Winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command”, “WinFR requires admin privileges to run”, etc.

Classification of hard drive formatting 

In general, formatting is divided into low-level and high-level formatting. To securely format disk, you need to know them and the usage.

Low-level formatting is to reset a drive to its factory settings, just like erase a disk, and create new sectors and tracks on it. You need to use it when your drive is badly damaged, or it’s infected by viruses, etc. Here are 3 ways to perform it:

  • CMOS of motherboards. It is usually embeded in HDD Low Level option.
  • Tools from hard drive manufacturer.
  • Third-party software.

High-level formatting is also called quick formatting in layman’s terms and used to reset a used disk or set up a new hard drive, such as, initialize disk, change file system, partition size, format inaccessible drive, etc. It will remove data on the disk and marks bad sectors to fix them. Here are 3 ways to perform it:

  • The Format options in File Explorer or Disk Management.
  • The format command line.
  • Third-party software.

Why do you need to format hard drive?

Formatting is a process to delete the data currently on your hard drive, specify a file system compatible with your devices, assign drive letter, etc, and therefore readies it for storing new data. In most cases, it causes more harm than good, but that’s not really the case. Sometimes, You need to format your hard drive for reuse. Below are some common situations:

  • Use this drive on differen devices, especially those with different operating systems, it may has specific file systems requirement.
  • You are selling or getting rid of your hard drive. It helps prevent anyone from accessing your data or sensitive information on it.
  • You upgrade old disk to a new one and format the old one as extra storage device.
  • Your drive has problems, such as, performance issue, file access error, bad sectors, virus infection, etc.
  • Your drive is corrupted due to overheating, fluctuating power supply, mechanical failure, file corruption, firmware problems, etc. In this case, you can only format it to make it behave functional.

How to securely format disk in Windows 10 or 11

Formatting hard disk without data loss is tricky, but not impossible. You might need to format it if you cannot access data on it because of incorrect file system. Here are ways to securely format disk in Windows 10 or 11.

But first... You need to create a copy of your files on the disk to prevent data loss. The best way is to use a file backup software like Backup and Restore (Windows 7), File History or third-party software, such as AOMEI Backupper Standard. Usually, the last one is easier, more flexible and has rich features.

File Backup

Then, you could follow one of the methods below to format a disk without data loss.

Quick Format

Step 1. Connect the disk you want to format. Go to “File Explore”, locate and right-click it, select “Format”.

Step 2. Check the capacity, file system and be sure the “Quick Format” option is checked. Click Start to format your disk.

Windows Quick Format

Disk Management

Step 1. Connect the disk you want to format. Type “diskmgmt.msc” in the search box and press “Enter” to open Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click the newly connected drive and select “Format”.

Step 3. Confirm the file system and be sure you check the “Perform a quick format” option. Click “OK”.


After formatting, if you find you delete important files on it, please stop using this drive and recover files with data recovery software or backup image immediately.

How to prevent data loss on a hard disk

  • Take sufficient time before formatting to verify the disk types, format method and level.
  • Create a copy of your files automatically. Note single backup only includes data currently on the disk, to include changes make later, you’d better create a schedule backup task. AOMEI Backupper Standard is a great option.
  • Avoid browsing suspicious websites or downloading files on it.
  • After formatting, please stop using the drive losing data and don’t add new items to it. These operations will make it difficult to recover files from formatted hard drive.
  • Monitor the status pf your disk and move your files before it’s damaged.

FAQ about formatted hard drive recovery

✍ Can you undo a format?

Unlike deleting a file, the formatting process cannot be undone.However, you can recover files from a formatted disk if you don’t reformat the drive or add new data to it.

✍ Does quick format erase data?

In some ways, yes. It deletes file system metadata, making this storage available for overwriting. You can undo quick format with MyRecover easily.

✍ Is it possible to recover a formatted partition?

Yes, you need a data recovery tool to get files back. But it's hard to recover all formatted files if you have fully formatted partitions in most cases.

✍ When data is not recoverable?

Your data is not recoverable if your hard disk is a TRIM-enabled SSD, or it is physical damage, or you use secure erase method to wipe a disk.

✍ How to recover files from formatted hard drive on Mac?

If you did not select "secure erase," your old data will remain on your drive until it is overwritten. So formatting a hard drive on a Mac is still possible. You can restore formatted files easily if you have made regular backup via Time Machine. Otherwise, you'll need a reliable Mac data recovery tool to recover files from formatted mac hard drive.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.