How to Unformat a Hard Drive?

Unformatting hard drive refers to undo a format. In other words, it is a process of recovering the data lost after the format command.


To know how to unformat a hard drive, let us first understand formatting.

Hard drive formatting is a process of defining or re-defining a file system database on the hard drive and preparing the hard drive for data storage. Usually, NTFS format is used for formatting traditional hard drives. NTFS defines a Master File Table (MFT) database that contains the address (pointer) of the files stored on the hard drive.

When you format a hard drive, containing data, deliberately or unintentionally – you redefine the file system database by overwriting the existing one. This erases the file information stored in the file system database on the hard drive. Thus, access to data and all the files stored on the formatted drive is permanently lost.

Now you may use the formatted drive to store data. However, that might destroy the potentially recoverable data beyond recovery.

Thus, if you wish to unformat your accidentally formatted hard drive, stop using it immediately or minimize the use of your system. Doing this will improve the chances of restoring data while unformatting the hard drive.

Steps to UnFormat a Hard Drive

Unlike formatting, unformatting a hard drive isn’t simple. You need specialized software such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional to unformat a hard drive.

Follow the steps given below to unformat a hard drive and get back all your lost data from the formatted hard drive:

Step 1: Download, install and run Stellar Data Recovery Professional software.

Free download

Step 2: Select which files you wish to recover. Choose ‘All Data’ or specific file type from the options or add your file type via ‘Settings>Add Header’ option and then click ‘Next.’

Step 3: Select the formatted hard drive volume listed under ‘Connected Drives.’

Step 4: Turn on ‘Deep Scan’ toggle switch located at the bottom left and then click the ‘Scan’ button.

Step 5: After the scan is finished, click ‘File Types’ in the left-pane to sort the scan results according to types.

Step 6: Click on a recovered file to see its preview. You can preview recovered photos, videos, documents, and audio files.

Step 7: Select the files you want to recover. Use the ‘Search’ bar to locate them quickly.

Step 8: Click the ‘Recover’ button, select location, and then click ‘Start Saving’.

The selected files will be saved at your desired location.

Tips to Prevent Accidental Formatting & Permanent Data Loss

  1. Stop using a formatted drive to prevent overwriting.
  2. Maintain regular backup on external hard drive and cloud storage.
  3. Always safely remove or eject USB drive before unplugging.
  4. Install a reliable antivirus and anti-malware software that offers web protection.
  5. Use Stellar Data Recovery software to quickly unformat a hard drive and recover your formatted files from a hard drive—when a backup isn’t available.


After a hard drive format, one loses access to all their data that was on the hard drive volume(s). To avoid permanent data loss due to accidental formatting and other errors, maintain regular backup of the data on an external USB storage, network drive, or cloud storage. And, use Stellar Data Recovery software in case the backup is obsolete or not available.

With Stellar Data Recovery software, one can quickly unformat a hard drive and recover data from a formatted hard drive. The software also lets you recover deleted files and data from corrupt or missing hard drive partitions.

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