Though FAT is not popular than before, there are still cases in which people prefer to choose FAT over NTFS or more advanced file systems. So, it's still necessary to talk about FAT32 data recovery even today.

As computer users, especially advanced users, you can’t be unfamiliar with file system. It is used in operating system to define the file organizing methods/data structure of disk or disk partitions. Basically, file system is made up of three parts: file system interface, software collections used for object manipulation & management and objects & attributes.

You might be wondering whether FAT32 is a safe file system, how’s it performance and is it possible to recover files from FAT32 partition after useful files were lost. Taking all of those aspects into consideration, I decide to guide you through the solution to FAT32 file recovery (taking advantage of a green data recovery software), including the causes of file loss.

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FAT32 file recovery

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The following content is quite useful for not only users who want to recover FAT32 partition, but also those who need to recover files from other common partition types, such as NTFS.

Why FAT32 File Recovery Can Be Done

As you’re about to see, lost files can be recovered completely some times, while in other cases, missing files will be gone for good. Why? This really depends on the actual situation of how data are lost and what users have done squarely after data loss disaster.

Basically speaking, files are stored into tracks of hard disk and allocated in accordance with cluster. 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.

Only when the FAT table and FDT are working together, can the management of files on the entire disk be unified and can the exact location of deleted files be accurately located.

Here is how a file is deleted under Windows OS (operating system):

No matter a file is deleted by users on purpose or unintentionally, the first character of this file in FDT will be changed to "E5", which indicating deletion; the corresponding information saved in the second sector of boot sector and showing the disk space occupied by certain partition, on which the deleted file is stored, will be changed.

As a result, under the condition that new file is not saved to the place where deleted file was located, you can recover deleted files from FAT32 drive correctly by modifying corresponding location and searching for E5 deletion mark according to data storage structure and data link of deleted file .

Recover Files from FAT32 Partition

Before the recovery, you should get a powerful recovery tool. You know, having a useful tool always greases the wheels.

Believe it or not, MiniTool Power Data Recovery V8.1 is one of the best FAT recovery software, which enjoys high reputation among people who have used it.

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3 Steps to Recover FAT32 files

Now, let’s dive right in starting FAT32 undelete.

Step 1: run the recommended software to see its main window. Choose the target FAT32 drive here.

You may click on the “Settings” button to show certain types of files during the scan; it will help you go from “zero” to “hero”.

choose the target FAT32 drive to scan

2 situations for the first step:

  • If only useful files are deleted by you or virus attack (partitions are working well), you should just choose “This PC” or “Removable Disk Drive” to recover deleted data.
  • If partitions are deleted by you/virus attack or the entire disk suddenly become RAW, uninitialized or unallocated, you may need to choose “Removable Disk Drive” or “Hard Disk Drive”.

Step 2: click on the “Scan” button at the bottom right corner of the main window and then wait for the completion of the scan on certain FAT32 partition.

wait for the completion of the scan

Step 3: look through all found files at the end of the scan to check the needed ones directly by clicking mouse. And then, you ought to click on the “Save” button and choose a new storage path for the files waiting to be recovered.

click on Save and choose a new storage path

Of course, you’re allowed to use “Find” or “Filter” function to locate desired files quickly.

Tip: Wait until all checked files are recovered to specified place, you can close the data recovery tool to end FAT32 file recovery process.

For the FAT32 data recovery on Mac, you should use MiniTool Mac Data Recovery instead.

Now, please take actions immediately to give it a shot yourself.

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4 Reasons for FAT32 File Loss

Files saved on a FAT32 partition may be lost due to lots of reasons. But no matter what the reason is, you will need to take actions at once to recover files from FAT32 partition (unless all of them are of no use).

Now, I’m focusing on telling you how the files are lost, hoping each of you will never be put in such terrible situation.

Reason 1: Files Are Lost During Conversion from FAT32 to NTFS

To break through the limit of FAT32 and achieve better performance, an increasing number of people decide to replace their old fashioned FAT32 partition with new advanced NTFS partition. And the most direct way that most of them could think of is reformatting the FAT32 partition.

reformat the FAT32 partition

During this process, you can change it to NTFS without any trouble. But the difficulty lies in formatting action will destroy all data on this drive.

So if you have important files here, you must transfer them out or back them up. Then, you could start the reformatting with no worries. And at the end of reformatting or backup, you can transfer data back to this partition.

As for partition conversion, my advice is to make use of a safe file system conversion tool to convert from FAT32 to NTFS without losing data and skipping the troublesome work of data transferring. You can turn to “Convert FAT to NTFS” of MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Convert FAT to NTFS in Partition Wizard

Reason 2: Users’ Accidental Deletion

Accidental deletion forms a major part of file loss reasons. People tend to make mistakes now and then. This often happens in a flash, leaving no room for you to regret.

But it really doesn’t matter if you have made a mistake in deleting wrong files and partitions. In both cases, you don’t need to throw in the towel. The reasons is simple, FAT32 file recovery after unintentional deletion is all too easy.

delete partition by mistake

If you are careful enough, you could find much FAT recovery software on the internet, which provides functions like FAT32 undelete. Just take a glance at them and choose a reliable one to get prepared to recover deleted files from FAT32 partition as soon as you can.

To be honest, MiniTool Power Data Recovery is an excellent choice; it has been developed by a company which has devoted itself to this filed more than 10 years and it owns over 2,000,000 users.

The difference lies in:

  • If you have deleted only useful files from a FAT32 partition, all you need to do is choosing a powerful FAT32 recovery tool or hiring a data recovery agency to finish recovering deleted files for them.
  • If you deleted a partition (partitions) from disk, you’ll have 2 choices. The first one is adopting great partition recovery software to recover FAT32 partition directly, regardless of lost data; the second choice is completing FAT32 file recovery firstly with file recovery software and then creating a new partition and transferring data back into it.

Reason 3: Virus Attack

When a computer becomes victim of network virus, there’s a large possibility that files or even partitions on the hard drive will be damaged (the whole partition may become RAW). You will be put in a tight spot once virus is detected on computer since in general, a good chunk of crucial working data, studying material and personal files are saved here in the local drive.

whole partition become RAW

In such case, how to recover FAT files or NTFS files must jump to the first on one’s priority list. And what’s bothering people a lot is what they need to do first – killing virus or recovering lost files or partitions.

My suggestion is:

  • If you care more about the partitions than files saved here, just choose a reliable FAT32 partition recovery tool to restore all partitions.
  • If the lost files are of great importance to you, you’ll need to recover them firstly from FAT32 partition to other devices, maybe removable disks. And after that, please create new partitions and transfer recovered files back there according to needs.

Reason 4: Improper Disk Management

This type of reason includes 2 aspects:

  • One is that you choose defective management tool to solve disk problems and enhance performance.
  • The other is that though a proper tool is chosen for good management, your impropriate operations still lead to data loss of different degrees.

Noting this, I advise you to choose MiniTool Partition Wizard as your intelligent disk management tool.

A Better Understanding of FAT32

FAT, acronym of File Allocation Table, is a popular file system among the past few decades. FAT operating system includes 5 types: FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32. Both of previous two file systems (FAT12 and FAT16) are basically eliminated now, while the last one (FAT32) is still using on many of users’ drives.

FAT32 file system

Adopting 32-bit file allocation table, FAT32 is greatly enhanced in the aspect of disk management. Windows 2000 and Windows XP are able to read and write FAT32 file system of any size. However, formatters on those platforms could only create a FAT32 file system with a maximum capacity of 32GB. Compared to the so-called more advanced file system – NTFS, FAT32 is better on this point: FAT32 partition can be accessed directly under DOS system, while NTFS cannot.

Features of FAT32

With the improvement of computer hardware and applications, FAT16 is not able to well meet the requirements of operating system any longer. FAT32 is developed and released based on those points. Compared to FAT16, FAT32 has following features:

  • The size of drive supported by FAT32 can reach up to 32GB, but it can’t be smaller than 512MB.
  • Adopting smaller clusters, FAT32 can store information more efficiently. Generally, there’ll be a 15% increase in the storage efficiency.
  • FAT32 can relocate the root directory and use the backup copy of FAT. Besides, the boot record of FAT32 partitions is contained in a structure where critical data are saved, thus reducing the possibility of operating system crash.

Limitations of FAT32

At present, FAT32 is supported by almost all common operating systems, such as Win95, Win98, Win2000, Win2003, Win Vista, Win7, Win8, Windows Server OS and Mac OS. Though FAT32 is better than FAT16 in many aspects, it still has some defects.

  • The running speed of FAT32 is lower than that of FAT16 due to expansion of the file allocation table.
  • FAT will not organize files into complete fragment when new data are written into hard disk after previous files were deleted. After long-term use, those files will become increasingly dispersed, which continues resulting in an obvious decrease in read and write speed.
  • Hard disk defragmentation is a solution, but it must be performed frequently in order to maintain a high efficiency for FAT. One of the most annoying design flaws of FAT32 partition lies in that it fails to give support for a single file which has a capacity of more than 4GB.

For above reasons, FAT32 has gradually stepped down from the stage of history and been replaced by other more advanced file systems like NTFS in many cases.

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Verdict

FAT32 is not as popular as before, but it still can’t be replaced by NTFS or any other file systems completely. In some certain cases, FAT32 is still the best choice; for instance, for XBOX 360, FAT32 is a must-have. Thus, the FAT32 file recovery skills are very helpful under special circumstances. I hope you all can find back your lost files from FAT32 drive quickly!

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