Can you get files and data after a hard drive is reformatted?

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope
Computer hard drive

Formatting a hard drive using the formatting utility or the built-in format functionality in the operating system (Windows or macOS) technically erase all files from the computer.

However, in some situations you can restore data and files on a formatted hard drive as long as that information has not been overwritten by new data. Third-party software can recover deleted files, as well as companies that offer the service. If you need to recover files that were on your formatted hard drive, using a data recovery utility is a good way to go. If the data recovery utility does not work for you, you can pay a company that specializes in data recovery to recover your files. These companies, however, charge several hundred dollars or more for their services, whereas a data recovery utility costs less than a hundred dollars.

If you do not want any of your old data to be recoverable, writing over all the information is the safest solution without destroying the hard drive.

Another option, if you do not intend to use the hard drive ever again, is to drill a hole or two into and through the entire hard drive. This process destroys the magnetic disk platters inside the hard drive, rendering the drive inoperable and unreadable.

The hole-drilling method is usually desirable if the computer is being thrown away or recycled. However, if the computer is being donated, overwriting all information on the drive is the best solution.