How is it Possible to Recover data from a Formatted Hard Drive or SSD?

It isn’t uncommon for experts to recover data from a physically damaged hard drive or SSD, even when it was previously formatted (CSI style). We are going to explain how they actually do that in this article, not because we think it is science fiction, but because it is a reality.

Hard drives do not need to be formatted in order to ensure content destruction. Only a low-level format (secure erase) will do this. A hard drive can still be recovered, even if it is physically destroyed (by scratching the platters by hand, for example).

Hard Drive Data Recovery after Formatting

The traditional format does not modify the track contents of hard drives or SSDs since it simply removes the data and the index without altering the actual tracks. In particular, a low-level format rewrites all the data on the disk, in contrast to the normal fast format, in order to ensure that no information is lost.

However, if the information is not rewritten, it remains in the disk storage, where it can be recovered using the appropriate methodology (as long as it has not been written back to the disk since it was formatted), in this situation you can go to hire data recovery services specialist. Moreover, you can do all of this by yourself from home, and you will only need special software to do so (you can find a variety of software on the Internet that promises to accomplish this task, and that works in most cases).

It scans each sector of the storage unit to determine what it contains. The process is slow due to the fact that no index is there since formatting removes it. What are the differences between them? Join them together (this is much faster in an SSD than it is on a mechanical disk, especially if the information on the disk is fragmented). So you won’t be able to restore each file where it used to be, but you will simply get a list of the files that have been recovered by the program (or you could copy these files to another medium if you are recovering raw files without a location).

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Obviously, this method of recovering data from a formatted hard drive (or simply files that you accidentally deleted and would like to restore) is not worth a chapter in CSI, as anyone can do it by paying for the software license. In this case, it clearly works as long as the hard drive is in good condition and that the type of formatting it is in accordance with its specifications, not low-level, but how do you go about recovering data from a physically damaged hard drive or after a low-level formatting?

Is it Possible to Recover Files from a Physically Damaged Hard Drive?

Most people try to destroy their hard drives before throwing them away because they are concerned about the privacy of their data (let’s not discuss the cases of criminals who destroy their hard drives before a police investigation is foreseeable). Advanced technical knowledge may even allow low-level formatting of the drive, but lost or destroyed data can still be recovered.

This kind of work is generally impossible without specialized equipment; therefore, it cannot be done at home and we should be looking for specialized companies whose rates are relatively high (about 1,200 euros per TB of information).

By manually and one by one examining each sector for a one or a zero, a “pizza” of information is “put together,” and then the “puzzle” of information along with the files is put together. Science fiction in the CSI-type series has something to do with inserting the disc into a machine and having it do all the work for you, since the real world is much more complicated and can take days to complete.

Unrecoverable Data can Occur

SSDs and hard disks can be destroyed physically, leaving at least part of the content inaccessible and unrecoverable. It is more likely that a hard disk can be recovered than an SSD. Because NAND chips (which use peaks and valleys to show the ones and zeros) rather than a disk drive store information, they are more likely to be damaged than SSDs.

Data stored on modern computer hard drives includes the operating system and applications, in addition to user data (which in most cases is what you are trying to recover). The drives also store directory entries, file attributes, and allocation tables from a running operating system, so recovering data is extremely unlikely.

Unrecoverable data can be caused in a variety of ways:

  • A method of destroying the SSD by removing the NAND chips with a screwdriver or sanding the plates.
  • Randomizes the magnetic domains of a mechanical hard drive by degaussing it (bringing it closer to powerful magnets, essentially).
  • Repeat multiple times overwriting every bit of the drive (including low-level formatting, specifically).
  • The methods listed earlier in this article can almost always be used to recover data from the hard drive or SSD.

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