How to format an external hard drive without losing everything

If you have problems with your external hard drive that you use for backup and need to reformat it, you can do so and recover your data later.

format, backup, recovery, data

The usual financial method of a backup is the storage of your data on one or more external hard drives. If they are not in a raid or if there is only one record then if it presents problems things get very serious.

In some cases of disk failure you may need to format it but with this action you will lose forever everything that is stored on it. So maybe you thought until now. But this is not the case.

format, backup, recovery, data

It is possible to format your hard drive without losing all your data. The process requires you to format your drive and then use data recovery tools to save your data.

The formatting methodology differs referring to a computer running Windows.

How to reformat a drive in Windows
1. Connect your external hard drive to your computer using a USB port. Wait for Windows to recognize the connected drive.

  1. Then open File Explorer, go to "This Computer" in the left column, and click the shortcut.

this pc

  1. In the "Devices and Drives" section of the main window, you should see your external hard drive. Right-click the drive icon to display the context menu, and then select "Format" from the list.
  2. Make sure the Quick Configuration box is selected, and leave all other settings the same.

  3. Finally, click the "Start" button and wait for the process to complete.

this pc quick format

ATTENTION: It is extremely important to make sure that the check box “Quick Configuration”Has a mark, ie it is checked. If you do not check it you will lose all your data.

Why is fast configuration important?
If you want to use data recovery software after formatting, you need to run the format in fast format. But why;

Think of your files as books on a shelf. The file system is like a directory that tells you where books are stored. Performing a quick configuration is like discarding the directory, but preserving the books themselves. After Format you can not find books so easily, but they are still there.

In more technical terms, a quick configuration only deletes the file system record. It does not replace the entire drive with binary zeros. The files remain, but File Explorer / Finder can no longer see them because it has no information on where to look. The files remain there until they are replaced with new data by the user.

Do not add more files
At this stage, it is imperative that you do not write new data to your hard drive.

As we just explained, any new data will immediately replace the old (now hidden) files. And the replacement will not be based on file for file but random. Uploading a new file to your external hard drive could corrupt hundreds of files that you need to recover.

Just move on to the next move, which is to use data recovery software directly.

Use of data recovery software
Now it's time to move on to a data recovery application. These softwares are specialized for finding files on the hard disk without the presence of a file system that tells them where to look.

Several data recovery applications are free. Sometimes, the free feature is limited to a certain number of files or storage space. If you are trying to recover a lot of data, you may have to pay for a license.

Do an internet search for this type of software and choose the one that suits you best. Do not hesitate to use two and three (not at the same time) as this can give you better results.

Such software is RStudio, Prosoft, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, Recuva, Windows File Recovery etc.

Avoid problems by making multiple backups
As mentioned at the beginning, all of these problems can be easily avoided by backing up your data multiple times.

At the very least, you should keep a backup inside and outside your workplace. In a dream world, you have a backup on a NAS drive, and a second one on a cloud storage provider.

For fixed data that does not change after a while, then there is the solution instead of NAS to use optical storage units.

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