Hard Drive Recovery Tools – How to Recover Cleaned Hard Drives
My friend tells me to clean my hard drives before I donate my old laptop. How exactly do I do that? Is formatting the hard drives sufficient to ensure all my personal data are beyond recovery? How do I recover files from cleaned hard drives if I ever need to?
In data storage area, clean has more to it than merely removing all the files. There are many ways in which you can clear a hard drive of its contents, such as deleting, formatting, erasing…but not all of these methods can be counted as cleaning. The strict sense of “cleaning a hard disk drive” would be that you wipe every bit of original data on that hard disk, either overwriting with new data or applying physical degaussing. To understand this, let’s first take a look at how data recovery works on files that have been deleted.
Data recovery software takes advantage of the mechanism of deletion. When we delete a file, the file system only removes the address pointer to that file. But the file as clusters of binary data is still physically in existence. The computer just regards the file as “deleted” and the space it takes as “available”. If we create new files, there are chances that the computer notices the newly freed space and cram the whole or part of the new file there (which also explains file fragmentations). By doing so, the data of the old file, the combination of ones and zeros, will be re-arranged to form the new file data. That’s why overwritten files can hardly be recovered.
The same goes to format, or to be more specific, quick format. When we quick format a memory card or hard disk, the file system only clears the address table to all files. The operating system will not locate any files without their index so when you look at the hard drive you would not see any data and assume the drive is erased. In fact, the files as raw data are still there but they no longer exist as files. They are hidden from users and will be freely overwritten when needed.
Delete and quick format are useful when we need to get rid of the old files quickly and refresh the hard drive for new uses, but they are not good enough, sometimes even dangerous for the safe disposal of sensitive data such as business documents or personal information. Professional data recovery software can scan and restore these files with little effort.
How to Cleaned Your Hard Disk Drive
As is mentioned above, data would be unlikely to recover if they are overwritten. That is why most safe cleaning methods involve overwriting.
Various software is available, such as DBAN, for the secure erasing of files from hard disk drives. This kind of software is designed to overwrite the hard disk drives with random ones and zeros repeatedly. Its purpose is to blur the residual pattern so that even the most advanced lab-level recovery tools can only recover negligible fragments, if not none, of data from previous files.
You can also achieve this effect by full formatting your hard disk drive. Unlike quick format, a full format will zero-fill your hard drive several passes so that all the files would be erased and permanently gone. You can perform a full format by using the command line format /p in your Windows Command Console. As a perk, a full format will also check your hard drive for bad sectors, which will be actively avoided in the future when writing new data to prevent potential file corruption.
Also, if you are resetting your computer with Windows 10 system, choosing the option “Remove files and clean the drive” will wipe your hard drive clean.
Hard disk drives (HDD) use billions of small magnetic domains to store data. These domains make up the writable surface of hard disk drives with magnetized cells represent “1”, while demagnetized cells represent “0”. The degaussing method uses a powerful magnetic field that demagnetizes all of the cells, neutralizing the data stored. When handling the data disposal of a large bulk of HDDs, degaussing is often the preferred choice.
These are the most common methods to truly clean hard disk drives without the physical destruction of them. Files lost in a cleaning process are not likely to be recovered. That is why these methods are also widely applied when disposing of sensitive data and personal information. If your cleaning process doesn’t involve the overwriting or degaussing mentioned above, you can surely restore your lost files with professional data recovery utilities, such as H Data Recovery Software. H Data Recovery Software works effectively in situations like quick formatted hard drives or SD cards, crashed partitions or deleted volumes, accidental deletion of files, removing all files during the resetting of Windows computers, emptied Recycle Bin… As long as your files are not overwritten or physically destroyed, H Data Recovery Software will be sufficient to scan, search and reconstitute these files and restore them.