Tech Tips: How to Recover Data Lost from Your Hard Drive


Hard drives are store for information or data, so losing data might be a bit frustrating. Interestingly, losing data or documents in your hard drive might be due to hard disk failure, mistakenly deleting the file, or intentional disk wipe/formatting.

If you mistakenly deleted a file from your hard drive, it will be moved to your Recycle Bin. So simply open your Recycle Bin and restore, easy, right? The issue with this, is that the Recycle Bin has a size limit, so when certain large file are deleted, they do not go there; they are permanently deleted.

However, if you follow these steps below, you’ll still be able to recover lost data from your hard drive, no matter how large.

Restore Previous Versions

If the hard disk from which the file was deleted from is still functional or being used in your laptop, navigate to the folder that used to contain the file or folder, right-click it, and then click on Restore Previous Versions. Here, you’ll see a list of available previous versions of the deleted files or folders with different times and dates. Choose the version you like and click Restore to recover deleted files back.

This might not be applicable to all versions of windows, but the Restore Previous Version command can be found on all versions of windows when you get to folder that has the deleted file.

If this doesn’t work, then you will need to use a software. It’s vital to note what windows really does, when it deletes a file (permanently), is that it wipes out the information about where it was stored on the hard disk and marks the areas of the disk occupied by the file as available for re-use. It will eventually overwrite them with new files, if you don’t move early to recover lost files. Once that happens, your data is gone for good.

If the file lost was due to a crash on the hard disk, you may need to use another computer and use the third party software to recover your files using the following steps:

Use Third Party Software

If the hard disk fails and stops to work, you can start by putting it in a freezer. Though this works, but not all the time and only for certain hard disk faults.

Having established that data lost was due to a problem with your hard Disk, proceed to carrying out the following steps:

Step 1. Download the third party data recovery software (Recuva, Puran File Recovery, Disk Drill). You might not need to install some of them; just follow the instructions given, depending on the one you use. Simply extract the contents of the .zip archive and run the .exe file.

Remember, if you’ve accidentally deleted some files, it is advisable you do this using a separate laptop from the one you intend to recover. insert the disk as an external disk, because installing directly on the disk might lead to permanent loss of some of your already missing files.

Step 2. Start the third party software. The opening screen shows all the disks, so select the one containing your deleted files and click on ‘Next’. The disk will now be scanned and any deleted files will be listed – this could take some time. If the missing files are listed, continue to the next step. If not, you could try altering some of the options in the earlier screens.

Step 3. The third party software might not show the correct filenames. So to help identify lost files, a preview option is provided. Select a file in the list at the left and choose either the ‘Preview’ (for photos) or the ‘First few bytes’ tag. Also useful for photographs is the ‘Thumbnail’ option in the ‘View’ menu, which will show small images in the list.

Step 4. When you’ve identified your lost file(s), select them in the list at the left and click on ‘Recover Selected Files’. Next, select the device and folder where you want your files to be restored to (this must not be on the same hard drive as the lost file) and click on OK. The missing file(s) will be saved automatically with generated file names, so you’ll need to rename them.

To avoid the the trouble of recovering data lost from your hard drive, the trick is to use cloud storage for important files and always back up your files, especially when your hard disks starts to give you warning signs.

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