Data recovery is a process that requires you to have to restore or retrieve data that is lost, damaged, deleted, or corrupted from a hard drive that may have failed. If the device has suffered a crash or is non-functional that prevents you from accessing the data by normal measures, it will require data recovery. The data recovery process will vary from device to device, but some basic procedures remain the same.

Data types may have been deleted or overwritten, requiring alteration of the recorded bits on a drive. The hardware data recovery processes typically apply to a situation where a system failure will prevent access to the data by normal means. You might need the help of a professional to repair the failed drive with replacement pieces physically.

This article will discuss a few different steps that you can take to recover your data in the instance of several different scenarios. Different types of processes will be applied based on each scenario. I’ll also share a few different tools to help recover your data.

1. Recycle Deleted Files

Windows recycle bin containing deleted data; concept of data recycling.
Windows has the recycle bin program which prevents accidental data deletion.

One of the most common ways that data is lost is file deletion. Usually, a deleted file is sent to a temporary storage area to keep it for a certain time before properly destroying it. Depending on the computer, one may have an SSD or HDD. The operating system knows that the file is no longer needed and that space will become available for use. The deleted file can be recycled back into the memory until no information is written over it.

When a file has been normally deleted, its references are typically removed rather than the file itself. The original data is left on the disk, making data recovery possible. You want to ensure that you stop writing data to the hard drive to make that file accessible and able to be restored. One of the simplest ways to recover a deleted file is from the recycle bin.

2. Mount The Primary Storage Drive Of Your Personal Computer On Another Computer

A black external hard disk drive (HDD) is connecte to a laptop and lies over th e keyboard of the laptop; concept of data recovery and data storage.
External HDDs are a lifesaver when you experience data loss.

Another way to recover your data is to mount the storage media (HDD or SSD) to another computer. A storage medium is an external device that will retain data for users and applications of a computer. The storage media can be installed internally, externally, or over a network. It is important to copy your files and data to the drive to be mounted before removing it from your computer. You can do this by opening the device manager in Computer Management and selecting the device you would like to uninstall. Be sure to check the backed-up data to ensure proper transfer. When you are ready, select the eject option to remove it from the computer without any error or damage.

3.Use PhotoRec For Forensics/Espionage Related Data Recovery

Forensic expert examines a hard disk drive with a magnifying glass for data recovery.
Digital forensic and espionage experts often carry out data recovery and restoration activities.

Data recovery is heavily used in computer forensics and espionage activities. In these instances, the data recovery by using external software helps find the files lost due to fragmentation, encryption, or hidden files due to a virus or other forms of hacking. 

File carving reassembles computer files from fragments and recovers the files without metadata. You can perform file carving using commercial services such as PhotoRec. PhotoRec is utility software for lost data recovery, and you can use it for data recovery or digital forensics. It includes a useful tool named TestDisk to recover damaged partitions of your hard disk. It is a multi-platform tool compatible with Linux, OSX, and Windows. PhotoRec checks the previous memory blocks for the fragmented file’s signature after recovering the file. It will attempt the process again if it finds fragments that weren’t successfully recovered. It will make some fragmented files successfully recover. You can download and install PhotoRec here.

4. Recovering Data With The Help Of RAID Tools.

Server under blue light and running the standard RAID architecture of hard disk drives.
Most HDDs or SSDs around the world use the RAID architecture in their construction

The RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) architecture combines those multiple magnetic disks in a hard drive into a single logical drive. RAID Data Recovery recovers and restores data from a RAID storage architecture or infrastructure. It uses a combination of manual and automated processes to extract and restore data. Usually, RAID will be used when overwritten data, reformatting, application or software, and a hard disk failure. The correct raid array is an important part of the raid recovery process. RAID provides data security with SSD drives as well.

TestDisk is a data recovery utility that helps recover lost partitions and repair corrupted drives and works well for different RAID variations. TestDisk can rewrite the MBR(Master Boot Record), recover deleted partitions, and rebuild partition tables. Testdisk can also locate partitions that have been deleted from a disk image. It will also recover deleted files if the clusters have not been used and the file wasn’t fragmented.

How Do I Ensure No Data Loss In The Future?

Golden colored 3D rendered lock lying with digital data background; concept of data security and data recovery.
Data security measures are a must if you spend a lot of time on computers and laptops

Remember that hard drive failure is one of the most common issues that will require data recovery. Be aware of the signs of hard drive failure, which include:

  • Overheating
  • Unusual sounds
  • Error messages
  • System Crashes
  • Files failing to open
  • Freezing

It is best not to use your computer when you experience hard drive failure, so you don’t damage any more data. If you somehow end up with a dead laptop/computer, get to know how to revive it by clicking here.

Data recovery is always a possibility in some form or another. It is a relief knowing that we have different tools available to retrieve our data and our data is not lost forever. However, the smallest of things can prevent a data loss situation.

Be sure to save and backup your data and files regularly. Do your best to keep your computer and laptop up to date. It is recommended that you have an image backup and cloud backup of your data. Image backups are usually saved to an external drive or USB. There are instances where physical damage and other situations can cause data loss on the storage media. Cloud backup is a great way to prevent data loss and quickly restore your data when necessary.