Instances where using a software program to recover data will work
- When files and folders have been deleted – eg. a folder has been moved to the recycle bin and then deleted
- Operating system upgrades
- Filesystem / Operating system corruption
…and those where it won’t
- Drives that are not recognised by the system and make a ticking noise when powered up – It’s extremely likely you have a mechanical fault – see the mechanical faults section
- Drives that are completely dead – they do not spin, are not recognised and appear to have no power going to them – In this case you probably have an electrical fault
- Drives that are recognised incorrectly by the computer &/or report the wrong capacity – eg. a 500GB Seagate drive is detected as having 0 bytes – your drive may well have a firmware failure
When Using Data Recovery Software There Are Two Important Rules
Do not install and run the data recovery program on the same disk you want to recover the data from.
This is very important! Installing a new program on the disk you wish to recover data from will frequently overwrite the data you are wanting to recover – Don’t do it !
If you have an external hard drive that you want to recover the data from (let’s call it drive F:\), all you need to do is to install the data recovery software on your computers main system drive (nearly always drive C:\). Once it’s installed, run the program and tell it to scan your external hard drive (F:\). It’ll take a few minutes (or sometimes hours) and will return the results of what it finds.
If you need to recover data from your system disk things are a little more involved. As discussed, you mustn’t install the recovery software on the drive you are wanting to recover data from as you’ll probably end up overwriting the data you want to recover, so you need to
- Remove the hard drive from your machine
- Connect the hard drive to another machine – typically hook it up to a USB cable and connect it as an external hard drive
- Install and run data recovery software on that machines main hard drive and get it to scan the external drive.
Do not recover your data to the hard disk you are recovering data from
It may cause your system to crash and you may overwrite the data you are trying to recover
Instead, hook up another hard drive and recover your data to that. Or, if you don’t have that much data or a spare hard drive you could always recover your data to a memory stick or similar.