Is it Possible to Recover Data from a Formatted USB Drive?

While reselling or handing over a USB drive, we format it multiple times to remove our data to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. We also do the same while discarding an old and non-functioning USB drive.

Formatting is of two types – Quick Format and Full Format. While formatting a USB drive, if we checkmark the Quick Format option, it simply removes the files from the partition and rebuilds the partition table. However, in the case of a full format, when the Quick Format option is not selected, files are eliminated, and the drive is scanned for bad sectors.

Sometimes, we accidentally format our drives, which causes us to lose data and important files. In such a scenario, the data can easily be recovered using specialized data recovery software.

However, data recovery mainly depends upon the type of formatting done. If Quick formatting was done and the drive has not been used since then, there are chances of data recovery. However, if you have used the drive after a quick format, chances for data recovery fall significantly.

In case of a Full format, there are no chances of data recovery, and your data is lost forever.

Therefore, you should format a USB drive or a storage drive very carefully.

Why Do We Format a Storage Drive?

As mentioned earlier, there are many reasons why we format a USB drive. Some of these are –

  • To sell or hand it over
  • To remove viruses
  • To free space
  • To remove errors
  • To discard it

How to Recover Data from a Formatted USB Drive?

If you have accidentally formatted a USB drive using the Quick Format option, there are chances of recovering files from it.

NoteEnsure to cease its usage right after formatting as any overwriting can lower the chances of data recovery.

To recover data from a formatted USB drive, use a powerful file recovery software like Stellar Data Recovery. This software allows easy file retrieval from a formatted USB drive or hard drive. It is also capable of recovering files lost in various other data loss scenarios, such as deletion, corruption, and more.

Thanks to its clean UI, the software is simple to use. This makes it an ideal software for even a novice user. Finally, its support for a vast and ever-expanding range of file types makes it an ideal universal file recovery software.

Here’s how to use it –

  • Purchase and install Stellar Data Recovery from its official website.
  • Launch Stellar Data Recovery software.
  • On the first screen, choose the file type of the missing file/s. By default, the All Data option is selected. Click Next.
  • On the next screen, select the location from where the file/s were lost.
  • Click Scan.

The software will scan for the lost files in the selected directory.

Once the scan is over, it will display all the recoverable files. You can check the files by selecting the desired file and clicking the Preview button.

If you are satisfied with the results, click Recover and select the save location. Your files will be recovered in no time.

NoteMake sure to use another drive to store recovered files.

Other Methods to Recover Files from a Formatted USB Drive

The above-explained method is a sure-shot way to recover lost or deleted files. However, there are some other methods you can use to find missing files in case you don’t have access to Windows file recovery software. These are –

  1. Cloud backup – A cloud backup acts as a safe location for your data as it is not confined to a piece of hardware. You can easily access it anywhere & anytime to download and recover missing or deleted files.
  2. External backup – A data backup created on an external drive is very helpful as it gives immediate access to a copy of files stored on it over time. It is very beneficial as it is easy to use, fast, and doesn’t require an active internet connection.
  3. Email attachments – Some people prefer creating data backups on their email accounts. While this is an old way of creating backups, it is very effective for someone who regularly maintains it. If you have made a backup of your important files in your email, look for them there.


Formatting a drive is a natural process that we do under various circumstances. In case of an accidentally formatted USB drive, we become anxious because we tend to relate formatting with permanent deletion. However, that is not the case, as formatting depends on the type of format done. Performing a quick format leaves room for data recovery, but a full format doesn’t.

Therefore, if you have accidentally formatted a drive, do not fret. Use a powerful file recovery software to get your data back.

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