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  1. #1
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    Full formatting question

    Does doing a full format on a drive pretty much guarantee that your data could not be retreived?

    rstew

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    rstew,

    In a word NO! As there are several UnFormat programs (e.g. EaseUS Unformat Utility) available. You need to use a wiper program (ccleaner or eraser for example) to insure anyone who doesn't have very deep pockets can retrieve your data. HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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    If doing a clean install I usually use a partitioning program such as GPARTED to delete any partitions first, can either format while booted to that CD or let the install do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rstew View Post
    Does doing a full format on a drive pretty much guarantee that your data could not be retreived?

    rstew
    Yes in Vista onward. Not even the NSA can recover your files (I'm betting). No, in XP or Win2k, it only reads the sectors not writes to them.
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/941961
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-05-10 at 23:58.

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    rstew,

    You might want to read this PC World article. HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    rstew,

    You might want to read this PC World article. HTH
    Or you could read this link below and go to my links on why the author [Gutmann] of this widely disseminated misinformation regarding passes on hard drives and THEORETICAL recovery admitted it was no longer an issue with pre-laid track ATA drives. That it was based upon research on floppy drives and extended to MFM drives.
    https://community.newegg.com/archive...42.aspx#676242

    While I cannot be certain that the NSA or other superfunded entity cannot read a single pass zeroed drive no court cases have occurred where the evidence came from a wiped drive. There is speculation based upon NSA job position announcements to run atomic force microscopes that they are reading platters that have been wiped, but this has been around for years and there is no hint of it actually occurring, nor have academic labs been able to achieve it.

    I can tell you that NO private recovery service can recover a single pass zero wipe drive. Ask them. They may hem and haw and say why don't you send it in to be checked, but if pressed they will tell you they cannot recover anything. There is a potential for recovering info in any caches...haven't seen it done but I can see the possibility. edit: I forgot there is a real possibility to recover data from any sector used that was later marked bad and taken out of service---Windows will attempt to recover and move the data but does not attempt to wipe the sector first so the data in that sector will still be there.
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-05-10 at 22:30.

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    F.N.,

    Looks like I'm out of date again! Thanks for the update. It ain't easy getting old.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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  9. #8
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    Apparently, most formats destroy what I have known earlier to be FAT and DIR tables. However, within any particular cluster - the information bytes are still here. Recovering such bytes is probably harder than any simple undelete [which consults the FAT & DIR tables for the first file cluster]. A zero-wipe should elminate any form of inexpensive recovery. I'm old school, I'm not sure how much of my post applies to NTFS and beyond
    Last edited by RolandJS; 2015-05-14 at 09:45.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

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    So if I am understanding the above correctly, for most practical purposes a full Windows format should render any previous data on a SATA drive as unrecoverable?

    rstew

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    That should be correct. The main thing is that a full formatting makes all the usable space available for new files to be written to the drive/partition while a quick formatting leaves things on it but not usually directly accessible. For better security using the process of writing zeroes fills up a partition which should overwrite anything that was on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berton View Post
    That should be correct. The main thing is that a full formatting makes all the usable space available for new files to be written to the drive/partition while a quick formatting leaves things on it but not usually directly accessible. For better security using the process of writing zeroes fills up a partition which should overwrite anything that was on it.
    OK good to know.
    Its not like I have any deathly sensitive information to hide, but its nice to know that if an old drive happened to find its way into recycling or something, no one could extract information off of it that would help them steal your identity or anything weird.

    Cheers,
    rstew

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berton View Post
    .... For better security using the process of writing zeroes fills up a partition which should overwrite anything that was on it.
    Which is what a full format does if using Windows Vista or later. XP or W2k all files recoverable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fascist Nation View Post
    Which is what a full format does if using Windows Vista or later. XP or W2k all files recoverable.
    Are they? Does full format not write to every sector?

    cheers, Paul

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    Are they? Does full format not write to every sector?

    cheers, Paul
    A "full format" for XP is actually a Quick Format (deletes entries from the MFT only and leaves the data structures of the files intact) + a quick check for bad sectors.

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    A quick check for bad sectors implies writing and reading each sector?

    cheers, Paul

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