How to Recover Files from FAT32 Devices
In computing, a file system is used to control how data is stored and retrieved. Without a file system, information placed in a storage medium would be one large body of data with no way to tell where one piece of information stops and the next begins. By separating the data into pieces and giving each piece a name, the information is easily isolated and identified. The structure and logic rules used to manage the groups of information and their names is called a “file system”.
FAT, or File Allocation Table, is a kind of file system popular during the past few decades. Although NTFS Is the default file system used by Windows NT family, it does not mean that FAT32 is obsolete. Having been around for a really long time, FAT is universally supported on all operating systems, including your smart TV, game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, older computers, printers, etc. FAT32 remains your best choice when it comes to portability.
Most memory cards are running FAT32 file system. There are two types of file names in FAT32. FAT originally limited to an 8 letter name and a 3 letter extension, this is the classic DOS 8.3 name. All files will have an 8.3 name for backward compatibility, even if you’ve named it something longer. In the mid-90s MSFT tacked on additional features to allow longer file names and have longer extensions. The separated longer name is stored as an additional directory entry but is done so in a way that it is ignored by vintage systems. When a file is deleted, the first character of the 8.3 name is changed to a 0xE5. This has the permanent effect of getting rid of the first character of the file name forever. But the longer file name, if present, is not affected by the deletion and is usually recoverable. The same meta-data that defines the file name and the pointer to its first cluster also happens to give us the hierarchy, because it is the directory entry itself that is defining all of its file and sub-folder contents. The only difference between a file and a directory in FAT32 is a directory data cluster(s) simply contain a list of directory contents.
Basically speaking, files are stored into tracks of hard disk and allocated in accordance with clusters. One cluster can only save one file while one file could occupy several or many clusters. A catalogue-like structure, which includes a pointer directing the first cluster of files, is used in Windows to realize effective management of files.
As a result, under the condition that new file is not saved to the place where deleted file was located, we can recover deleted files from FAT32 drive correctly by modifying the corresponding location and searching for E5 deletion mark according to data storage structure and data link of deleted file. The condition is that many of the sectors that comprised the binary files and the file system’s metadata have not been permanently overwritten. Once a sector has been written to, you cannot undo that type of damage. If the directory entries and the actual FAT table entries have not been overwritten, you can use a good piece of FAT32 recovery software to recover deleted files from FAT32 devices.
Professional data recovery software such as H Data Recovery Software can be very helpful when recovering file from FAT32 devices. It includes 6 data recovery modules: Accidental Deletion Recovery, Damaged/Lost Partition Recovery, Flash Memory recovery, Recycle Bin Recovery, Formatted Drives Recovery and Universal Recovery. According to your data loss situation, you may choose from one of the 6 modules this software has to offer. These situations include accidental deletion, emptied recycle bin, deletion from flash drives like USB flash drives or SD cards, accidental formatting of drives, damaged or lost partitions, etc. When the scan is complete, view all found files listed and check the needed ones directly. Use “Find” or “Filter” function to quickly locate your desired files. Select a directory to save the files and click next to start the recovering process. Please save these files on another good partition or external drive in order to avoid potential overwriting issues.