If you’ve just experienced severe data loss, don't panic! If you have just realized that you accidentally deleted a file weeks ago, don't panic! In most cases deleted files are still on the affected storage medium and data recovery applications can bring them back. So, simply put, yes, it is possible to recover the majority of lost files. However, we can't stress enough how important it is to follow some critical steps to increase your chances of success. And remember, don’t panic!
Stop Using the Failed Hard Drive
You don't have to be a tech guru to get the data back in the case of a logical failure but to increase the chances of getting those lost files back you will need to stop using or reduce the amount of times the faulty storage medium is used. This will prevent the operating system from writing data in the clusters containing the ‘lost’ data.
Download a Data Recovery App
Check out the reviews section and download the data recovery software that best suits your needs. The free versions of these apps will scour the failed drive for data via at least two recovery methods: quick scan and deep scan.
Run Quick Scan and Deep Scan
The scanning process itself is essentially the data recovery because it’s at this point that the software algorithm will check with the file system about the deleted files, which will check the logical addresses of the old file catalog for any lost data. If you act quickly enough after the files were deleted, then a quick scan will be sufficient to bring all of them back.
If not, a deep scan – sometimes called raw recovery – will be required, which will scour the whole drive for file signatures and rebuild the files based on what it finds. If the drive has had limited use meaning that the operating system hasn’t written too much new data on it, then the data recovery application will recover all the files. However, as more and more time passes, the old file catalog will become more and more vague and therefore reduce the chances of getting all the files back.
Scan a Disk Image Instead
Creating a disk image of a failed drive is often an added feature of some data recovery software, though there are other means of doing so. This essentially creates a copy of the entire contents of the disk drive, which can then be used to scan for whatever lost data you’re looking for.
This is beneficial because in doing so the process of scanning is quicker and the data will not be altered by the file system in any way. This means that there is no further risk of losing the lost data forever because it is a surrogate for the failed drive, meaning the latter is not being used and therefore won’t be at risk of taking further damage to the data or drive. This is more likely to work, of course, the sooner the disk image is created after the realization of lost data.
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