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Data Protection Consulting: Can Files Be Recovered From a Formatted Unit?

Among the issues that SMEs and the self-employed usually raise with relative frequency to data protection consulting companies, many are related to the recovery of files from a storage unit that has been formatted. When a storage unit is formatted (internal or external hard disk, memory card, USB memory ...), all files and data that the unit may contain are deleted. Formatting allows you to quickly remove the contents of the memory unit that you want to reuse and is more efficient than manual deletion, since it also eliminates hidden files.

But, despite the efficiency of erasure achieved by formatting a unit, the truth is that you can recover the files (or at least a part of them) after they have been deleted. There are various software available to recover various data. For example, if you need to recover files from SD card, you can use RecoverIt that is specifically designed for that. Whatever software you use, make sure it really can help you at a cost that you can bear.

But why would you want to format a storage unit? In many cases, it is simply done to get rid of a large number of files that are no longer used or that have already been backed up. Free space on the disk or the memory unit allows reuse and not having to buy a new one. In the case of internal hard drives, it is also customary to format them to install software updates, reset the computer to its startup values or ensure the removal of viruses and malwares. On other occasions, we proceed to the erasure of information or formatting of a storage unit, to ensure the erasure of personal data that may contain.

It is a way to comply with the Data Protection Law (LOPD) and avoid possible sanctions for being in possession of files with personal data in an improper way. And why want to recover data that had been deleted? Most of the time, it is because the IT manager realizes that, by mistake, among the deleted files, there was valid information that has been lost and that had not previously been backed up.

Fortunately, the files that are deleted, after formatting a unit, do not disappear immediately, but remain temporarily stored on the disk (although out of sight) and are erased as new information is rewritten in the memory unit. So the first thing to do, after realizing that valid files have been removed by mistake, is not to use the disk, or record or install anything at all.

Then, you can resort to expert help, but you can also try to recover the information with the use of the appropriate software (there are several programs in the market to recover files from a formatted unit), which guides the steps to be taken until recover the files to rescue, before they have been permanently deleted.