What is the difference between restoring and formatting?

You have to choose between restoring or formatting a PC but you do not know what to do? Here we are to explain what is the difference between restoring and formatting.



In computer science, with the term restore, it refers to the operation that allows you to recover files from a specific backup device, such as from a hard disk, an SSD, a pen drive, or other storage media. However, depending on the context in which you are located, the restore operation involves some slight differences:

  • if referring to a file or a folder, the restore allows to recover that file or that folder using a backup copy previously saved by another party. In these cases, restoring individual files or entire folders is an operation that can be accomplished either through a backup program or, more simply, by copying the files or the folder in question from a copy previously saved to a certain memory support;
  • if referring to a hard disk or a computer, the restoration allows to restore the functional state of that hard disk or that computer. In these cases, the recovery operation is commonly accomplished through a copy of the entire hard disk, previously made either manually or through a backup program;
  • if referring to an operating system, the restore instead involves the total restoration of the original files of that operating system, thus removing all the files created, the installed programs and the customizations made. Depending on the case, however, it can also be given the possibility of doing only a partial restore, thus keeping all of its files (for example, by restoring the system configuration in the Windows environment). This type of recovery is usually done either through a special recovery CD/DVD, sold or not together with the computer, or via the so-called recovery partition.

It should also be said that, depending on the circumstances, the restore operation may also be called recoveryrestorereset to factory settingsresetfactory resethard reset or master reset.


In computing, the term format, and sometimes with the term Reset, means a particular operation that allows you to prepare a given storage medium of mass, such as a hard disk or a USB stick, in order to then be able to use for store all your data. In other words, through the formatting procedure, you “say” to a certain mass storage medium as this will now handle the files that will be created and/or subsequently housed.
If referring to a computer or an operating system, formatting allows you to completely erase the contents on the hard disk of the PC, and then reinstall or not the operating system, in an attempt to solve an anomalous behavior caused, in general, either by viruses and/or malware, or by particular software problems.

So at this point, you should finally have realized that there is a difference between restoring and formatting.

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