Does formatting an external drive erase files

I have an external drive, with lots of invaluaboe family pics on it. When I plugged it in this time it says that the disk needs it needs to be formatted before using it. Will this delete all my files and data?
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  1. Yes, formatting the drive will erase your data.

    Since it is a drive you have been using, it should not tell you to format the drive though. It seems your hard drive has developed some type of issue / error. Try sticking into a different USB port.
  2. A data recovery program like that from Iolo ought to be able to recover files from a formatted drive. The formatting process deletes the files yes. But doesn't overwrite them. Even after formatting the files should still be there, available for recovery.

    Yes? No?

    I'm trying to get my new PC to recognize and initialize the old drive with a damaged boot sector. I want to recover all the files on the old drive. So far so good but apparently Windows 7 won't initialize and recognize the old externalized drive until I partition it. (sigh)

    Yes I switched the jumper on the old drive from master to slave.

    I won't give up. The drive from my ten year old desktop has thousands of irreplaceable files. I must recover them.

    So far so good. The damaged drive came out of the old PC okay and was put into an external case in order to run it. It was connected to my new PC and the new computer detected it and it's listed in device manager by its original name. It's there.

    My research tells me I have to format it before Win 7 will initialize it, assign a drive letter, and allow me to see the files on it. (via a data recovery program. Heck. That's how law enforcement finds files on a PC the user thought he had deleted. Heh.)

    Does anyone have some knowledge or insight that might help me?

    Is there a way to recover my files without reformatting the old slave drive? (an old Maxtor ATA100 80 gb) It's operating well in its new external case connected with USB2. Win7 just says it's not initialized. That's where I'm stuck. I can't make it initialized.

    Best, Rob
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