Formatting the External Hard Drive: Will it Erase Everything?

Most of us have gone through the process of formatting the external hard drive from time to time. There are mainly two purposes of formatting an external hard drive, viz., freeing up space, and changing the file system format of the drive. Other issues that may be fixed by formatting the external hard drive are a corruption of files, bad sectors in the drive, etc. However, many users ask that if I format my external hard drive will it delete everything. They actually want to know whether there are chances of recovering the data after an external hard drive has been formatted. The generic answer is ‘Yes’, but we need to understand the extent to which recovery is possible and the remedy to this problem.

We have discussed the process of formatting and solution to permanently erase data from an external hard drive easily in this article. So, why wait? Let us begin.

Formatting an External Hard Drive

Let us first try to understand what happens if I format my external hard drive. Will it really delete everything, or is it going to erase everything on my hard drive? It would be best if you understood that while delete and erase might appear to be synonyms, they are actually two different processes in the world of Information Technology. Formatting an external hard drive or any other storage device using Windows File Explorer or Disk Management or Format command frees the space and prepares it for specific use. Following are the things that happen on formatting the drive:

  • It deletes all the data saved on the external hard drive.
  • It allows resetting the file system to NTFS, exFAT, FAT 32, etc.
  • Free the drive from some basic threats of viruses, malware, etc.

It should be understood that formatting the hard drive does not erase the data. Rather, it deletes the data so that its recovery becomes difficult compared to deletion by delete button or Shift + Delete command. Although a professional data recovery software like Stellar Data Recovery can still extract or recover most of the formatted data.

Erasing Data on External Drive

Erasing data on an external hard drive ensures that there is no possibility of data recovery, even by using professional data recovery software. Data on a hard drive is permanently erased using professional data eraser software. A data eraser software uses secure algorithms to overwrite the existing or deleted data with binary digits or random useless data multiple times, thus rendering the actual data irrecoverable. Therefore, it safeguards your personal data from falling into the wrong hands and being misused.

Formatting v. Erasing: Which one to choose?

Let us have a quick look at the basic differences between formatting and erasing an external hard drive:

ProcessData DestructionLogical ImpactRecovery Possibilities
FormattingDeletes DataAllows File System structure to be changed thus making the drive writableHigh
ErasurePermanently erases dataErases data by overwriting each part of the driveNone

If you want to empty your external hard drive and use it for further personal purposes, you can format the hard drive. Nevertheless, if you’re going to dispose-off or give away your hard drive, you must choose to erase your sensitive files and important data using BitRaser File Eraser with no scope of data recovery by even the professional data recovery software.

How to Permanently Erase Data from an External Hard Drive

If you want to permanently erase files from your external hard drive, you will need secure and foolproof file eraser software developed by professionals. To erase the files on an external hard drive, you can use BitRaser File Eraser software that overwrites the existing data on your drive multiple times using globally recognized and certified eraser algorithms that wipe the files beyond the scope of recovery. 

Using BitRaser File Eraser, you can not only wipe the existing files on your external hard drive, but you can use it to do the following tasks:

  • Wipe all internet activity traces like cookies, temporary files, etc.
  • Remove Application traces like skype conversations, News apps, etc.
  • Erases the deleted data using the Shift + Delete command or by emptying recycle bin.
  • Wipes system traces, i.e., temporary files accumulated due to routine usage.
  • It lets you search and erase a specific file by name or file extension.
  • Option to schedule erasure of files, folders, and traces at a frequency of once, daily, weekly, monthly, or on system boot.


From the above discussion and explanations, you can conclude that the real way to permanently get rid of the data on your external hard drive is to erase it using BitRaser file eraser software instead of formatting it. Formatting might help you delete the data on your drive but erasing it ensures no scope of data recovery whatsoever. We have used BitRaser file eraser to demonstrate the functioning and impact of an eraser software. It is one of the most trusted eraser software globally, equipped with multiple secure algorithms certified by renowned organizations like the US Department of Defense. Do share your thoughts in the comments and stay connected.

17 thoughts on “Formatting the External Hard Drive: Will it Erase Everything?

  1. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes which will make the most important changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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