How to Recover Data from External Hard Drive after Formatting?

March 6, 2019

Partitions or volumes on external storage can be formatted or deleted by accident sometimes. It won’t be a mess if you know how to recover files from external hard drive after formatting. Come and have a look.

The issue: accidentally formatted external hard drive how to recover?

“Help. I have quick formatted my external hard drive on my computer and all partitions including stored data are gone. Regret to do so. But how could I recover data from the external drive I just formatted in Windows 10? I have not used the drive for any purpose after formatting.”

You may confront the trouble, format a partition or drive unexpectedly in some operations. What’s worse, there is no backup or duplication for the drive. The data on that drive is the only copy. Also, the problem can happen on Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows XP that is running on a desktop or laptop.

Except for external hard drive, partitions on many other devices such as flash drive, internal disk and portable hard drive are likely to get deleted or formatted due to human error. Surely, some users do not format the drive mistakenly but just find they are important after a while or a couple of days later. Well, what should you do to get data back from the formatted disk?

Attention: do not re-write data to the formatted partition or drive

In the very first place, do not use the formatted drive or partition for a second use after the operation. As a matter of fact, formatting does not mean the data on the drive is really wiped, even if you find it is blank in Windows Disk Management. As long as you do not write new data to the block or sector, there is a chance to perform external hard drive recovery after formatting. Then, how to do the recovery exactly?

Professional tool: recover formatted partition on external drive easily

To recover data from formatted, deleted or lost partition on external hard drive, it is recommended to try a powerful tool, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. With its feature “Partition Recovery Wizard”, one can easily recover data from formatted or deleted partitions. For a partition or drive that gets lost without a reason can also have the chance to recover.

It has a graphical user friendly interface that is suitable for users who even has less computer experience. It works well on Windows 10/8.1/7/Vista/XP (both 32 bit & 64 bit) on desktops and laptops. Now, let’s get to know how to use it specifically.

Step by step: how to recover data from external hard drive after formatting

1. Connect the external hard drive to your computer and make sure it can be detected. If not detected, please refer to external drive not detected for solutions.

2. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant on the same computer. Click on “Partition Recovery Wizard” on the left side and then select the external hard drive you’ve formatted in the pop-up window.

Partition Recovery Wizard

3. Select the lost partition(s) from the list to recover. 

Select lost partition

4. Select the search method, Fast Search or Full Search. Click “Next” and wait for the recover process to complete.

Select search method

5. Click “Finish” to exit if you get a “Congratulations” window. Then, you can check files in the recovered partition in File Explorer.


Tips: if files are not found by Fast Search, it is suggested to use Full Search and try again.

Recover lost partition using CMD

If the partition on the external hard drive gets lost without a sign, you can get the partition back by simply re-assign a drive letter to the drive. Here are the steps you can follow.

Notice: you’ll need to know information about the lost partition in Disk Management. Remember its partition size and which disk it locates, for example, to help you distinguish it later.

1. Open an elevated Command Prompt by running it with administrator. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

2. Input these commands in turn and press Enter after each.

  • list disk

  • select disk n (where n is the disk number of the external drive)

  • list volume

  • select volume m (where m is the volume number of the lost partition)

  • assign letter=# (replace # with any letter that is not in use)

  • exit (leave diskpart)

  • exit (leave CMD)

3. Find the lost drive in File Explorer or Disk Management.

Foster backup habit to avoid data loss in the future

Indeed, it is quite easy to recover data from external hard drive after formatting with the help of professional recover tool. But it would be better to recover if there is a backup. Meanwhile, the chance to recover all formatted data is greater. As a result, fostering a good habit of backup is quite necessary.

You can do backups with Windows built-in Backup and Restore (Windows 7/10) or File History (Windows 8/10). Or, you can do set-and-forget backup tasks with free backup software, AOMEI Backupper Standard, another powerful tool in AOMEI family products.

File backup, system backup, disk backup, automatic backup, incremental backup, etc. are all embedded with the free utility. To learn specific steps with screenshots, please refer to backup external hard drive to another.


Format a drive by accident? Don’t worry. You can learn how to recover files after formatting on the external hard drive by professional recover tool or command prompt from this article.

Keep the software installed on your computer because it is able to extend system drive when it is out of space, migrate OS to SSD when you upgrade disk, rebuild MBR when Windows has boot error, etc.