FAT Recovery - How to Recover Data from FAT16/FAT32/exFAT

The specific table that a computer’s operating system uses to find files on a hard drive is called FAT (File Allocation Table). The FAT is so clever that it keeps track of segments of a single file kept anywhere on the hard disk. Windows 95 used a FAT system called FAT16 while the latter versions used a system called FAT32. The first file system was founded in 1977 by Microsoft and has been used ever since. It is indeed the preferred file system for flash disk drives, solid-state memory cards (SD) and floppy drives.

Part 1: What is FAT

Today, the FAT file system is not the primary option; NTFS is. All the same, The File Allocation Table has been upgraded severally over the years so it can be able to support bigger hard drives and bigger file sizes. There are various versions of FAT, the earliest being FAT8 and then FAT12 that was discovered in 1980 when the initial DOS versions were released. The 12-bit only supported file names with no more than 8 characters and 3 others for extension. Due to limited use, FAT16 file system was founded in 1984 in DOS 3.0 PC and MS-DOS 3.0. An enhanced type, FAT16B, was introduced too and it became the primary file system for MS-DOS 4.0 all through to MS-DOS 6.22.

FAT16X was then made for MS-DOS 7.0 and Windows 95. FAT32 is currently the most advanced version and has been running since 1996. It accepts basic drives with up to 2TB and those with 16TB (with 64KB clusters) of space. An adjusted type of FAT32, FAT32+, can support up to 256GB of file size. Finally, there is the exFAT or Extended File Allocation Table that was discovered in 2006 by MS. It is not a better version of FAT32. The exFAT is just an edition meant for flash drives, SDXC cards and SDHC cards.

Part 2: How to Recover Data from FAT16/FAT32/exFAT Hard Drive

Wondershare Data Recovery is extremely secure recovery software for Windows operating system that accepts a FAT16 or FAT32 file system. Whether you are dealing with a logical Windows FAT 16/32 that has been deleted, formatted or corrupted, Wondershare Data Recovery tool is all you need. It does not matter whether your damaged or failed disks and storage media are used internally or externally.

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Step 1 Select the file type you want to recover. You can select the option of "All File Types" to start FAT recovery.

recover data from FAT

Step 2 Select the tartget location hard drive and click "Start" to scanning lost data.

recover data from FAT

Step 3 Go to deep scan if quick scan can't find your lost files, it will take a longer time.

recover data from FAT

Step 4 After deep scan you can go to previewed all recovered files and click "Recover" button to save.

FAT recovery

Part 3: Structure of a FAT Files System

The layout of the File Allocation Table looks like the diagram shown below. It has four sections: Boot Sector, FAT Table, Root Directory and Data Area.

structure FAT file system

Boot sector is situated at the sector 0 of the disk and it consists of a range of data, including the number of clusters available in a track. As well, it shows the number of sectors available on every cluster and defines the size of each sector. A cluster size is established by the volume size and can be as big as 64KB. Specified sizes must be listed in a FAT16 cluster sizes table or FAT32 cluster sizes table.

The main difference between FAT16 and FAT32 is the size of the logical partition. FAT 32 extends a single logical drive volume to 127GB or higher while FAT16 limits logical drive to 2-GB. Hence, if one has a 2-GB FAT16 logical drive, they must use a 32-KB cluster while if using a FAT32 drive, the level for a 4-KB cluster would include drive sizes 512MB to 8GB.

Part 4: FAT16/FAT32/exFAT hard drive data loss

Just like other types of hard drives, items using FAT16, FAT32 and exFAT hard drive can experience data loss. If using these, make sure you know how FAT recovery is done as early as now. You can accidentally lose your FAT data files in these ways.

As you have noted, FAT16, FAT32 and exFAT hard drive data loss is triggered by most of the factors that affect other physical hard drives. To avoid issues affecting the logical file systems of these disk drives, you would have to be extremely keen about things that could corrupt your files. This will particularly happen when you are installing a dual operating system or a multi-operating system. As well, corruption of data may happen due to errors committed when partitioning a hard drive or when you accidentally delete or format a partition. This calls for caution when handling files stored on your hard drive partitions. It is important to remove your external hard disks in the right manner to avoid abrupt stoppage of read/write requests. Power surges should be avoided with the right gadgets too. Finally, backup your data always to avoid stress that is triggered by data loss.

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