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Recover Data from a Formatted USB Drive – Detailed Steps

Formatting a USB drive will cause all data in it to get deleted suddenly. That can lead to a data disaster if you happen to have stored some important files in the drive. In a circumstance like this, you may wonder if you have a chance to recover a formatted flash drive. If the answer is affirmative, how do you recover data from a formatted USB drive?

What Will Occur after Formatting Your USB Drive?

In computing, drive formatting can be further divided into 2 types – quick format and full format. Both kinds of formatting will clean your existing data on the drive and write a boot sector & an empty file system table on the drive. But they are different. The former one usually takes less time than the latter one. Full formatting means it will overwrite all sectors with zero, besides, full formatting can find and mark bad sectors to not use henceforth. Generally, a quick format is more recommended if you do not have very advanced needs.

After performing a quick format, the files in your storage devices are not overwritten, all you have to do is using data recovery software/tools to recover files from a formatted USB drive, the sooner, the better. Nevertheless, if your files get lost due to the full format, the data recovery process will become tougher. Anyway, do not give up, do your utmost to recover data from your USB drive.

Technically, only if the files are not overwritten by new data can the file recovery tools get back the data. To ensure the success rate of data recovery, you should stop transferring any new documents to the formatted USB drive and do not re-partition it. Otherwise, the files on your device will become unrecoverable.

How to Recover Data from a Formatted USB Drive – [Proven Method]?

Take MiniTool Power Data Recovery as an example, this professional-level data recovery software can be used to recover files from a formatted USB drive. This tool has 4 recovery modules tailored for your different needs, including This PC, Removable Disk Drive, Hard Disk Drive, and CD/DVD Drive.

This program scans for deleted files using deterministic and heuristic algorithms to get back lost/deleted files from all kinds of data storage drives like HDD, external hard drives, SSDs, USB flash drives, memory cards, SD cards, and more. You can rely on it to recover many types of files like images, music files, videos, documents, and more.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery is a lifesaver when you meet data loss disasters. Imagine that you can’t read your USB drive because it suddenly becomes inaccessible, or the SD card is dead, you can first use this data recovery tool to retrieve the files as much as you can, and then take measures to solve the device issue. More importantly, when your computer fails to boot, you can mitigate the data risk by rescuing data from the machine with the help of the bootable edition of MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

Using the free edition, you can first scan the formatted USB drive and check whether the tool can find all the files you need, then you can recover up to 1 GB of data free of charge. Assuming that you unintentionally performed a full format on your USB drive, you can also try this program and see if it can scan for your important files and folders. 

Use MiniTool Software to Recover Files from a Formatted USB Drive

It is not difficult to perform a formatted USB drive data recovery with MiniTool Power Data Recovery. The software is user-friendly and easy to understand. 

  • Download the software from the developer’s official website and install the program on your computer.
  • Connect the formatted USB drive to your PC, make sure it is well connected.
  • Launch the program, you will automatically enter This PC module (see image below). You can see all drives on your computer are listed there, including the target USB drive. Now you are supposed to select the USB drive you want to recover data from, after that, click the Scan button in the lower part.

How to Recover Data from a Formatted USB Drive

  • The scanning process will last for a few minutes or half an hour, depending on your device.
  • When the scanning process is done, you can see the complete scan results. You can expand each file path to find the files that you want to recover. Moreover, you can go to Type to let the software display the files by type. If you remember the name of the file you want to recover, you can click the Find feature to locate a specific file more quickly (see image below).


  • Now you could tick the checkbox for your needed files in the same folder or in different folders, at last, click the Save button. Soon, see a pop-up interface will ask you where to save your selected files. To prevent the formatted files from getting overwritten, you must NOT use your formatted USB drive to save the recovered files.

When all the above steps are done, you can open the recovered files one by one and check whether they are usable. 

Remember to Back up Your USB Drive on a Regular Basis

Data loss disaster can happen anytime, due to many reasons like virus attacks, power outages, drive theft, physical damage, etc. The best way to protect your data security is to make a regular backup for your files. You can try the cloud backup solutions that need a network connection or use desktop data backup utilities like MiniTool ShadowMaker to provide you with the ability to restore data if the original files get lost.


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