Deleting a single file can be fixed by restoring it from the Recycle Bin. But, wiping an entire hard drive? That mistake can be costly. Wiping out a computer hard drive means all of the content on that drive has been deleted and can no longer be accessed through the usual means, like File Explorer.
Even in such cases, there is still hope to retrieve all of your data. But, you must act quickly. In this article, we’ll go over what you can do to recover wiped hard drive data.
What to Do If You’ve Wiped Your Hard Drive
Was your hard disk erased? If you accidentally erased a hard drive, stop using it immediately. When you delete something, only the reference is deleted, not the underlying data. In this state, your data can still be recovered. However, your operating system has marked the physical location as available, so new data that’s written to the same location will overwrite your erased data, making it unrecoverable.
Therefore, once the hard drive is erased, you must stop using the drive until you’re ready to perform wiped hard drive recovery. If you want to retrieve data from the drive, continue to the next section to figure out how to recover a wiped hard drive.
How to Recover Data From an Erased Hard Drive
To recover a wiped hard drive that you don’t have a backup of, you’ll need to use a data recovery tool. Disk Drill is a specialized data recovery tool that can be used to recover data from your hard drive after your data has been lost or deleted.
As mentioned earlier, continuing to use the damaged drive can result in further loss of your data. To ensure the installation of Disk Drill doesn’t affect your data, install it to a different drive.
Follow these steps to recover data from an accidentally wiped hard drive using Disk Drill.
- Download and install Disk Drill to a drive that isn’t the one you’re recovering data from.
- Select the drive that was erased, then click Search for lost data.
- Once the scan is complete, click Review found items to see what Disk Drill discovered.
- Mark the files you want to recover, then click Recover. You can preview files by double-clicking them and use the Recovery chances column to see each file’s chances of recovery. Alternatively, click Recover all to recover everything that was discovered.
- Choose an output location that’s on a separate physical partition, then click Next to finalize recovery.
How to Recover Data From an Erased System Hard Drive
There is a very high chance that wiping out hard drives that contain system files will render your computer unusable. Without the necessary files to boot, your computer won’t know what to do.
The process used to recover a wiped hard drive that contains your Windows operating system is slightly different. If the wipe did delete everything on the hard drive, you’ll no longer be able to boot into Windows to install and use Disk Drill.
Instead, to recover an erased hard drive that contains your Windows files, you will need to remove the internal hard drive and connect it to another computer as external storage. Internal drives can be removed, put into a hard drive enclosure, then connected via USB as you would an external hard drive. Once connected, you will follow the same instructions presented in the previous section to recover data from the drive, but this time you’ll be installing Disk Drill on a different computer and scanning your wiped drive as an external storage device.
Is It Possible to Recover Erased Data From an SSD?
Yes, it is possible to recover erased data from solid-state drives; but not always. It really depends on whether or not your SSD has TRIM enabled.
TRIM is a command that improves performance and extends the service life of SSDs. When you typically delete a file, only the reference to that file is deleted. When TRIM is enabled, the actual data that made up the file is automatically erased too.
TRIM, by design, removes the deleted data on NAND cells to eliminate the need for your SSD to do so. Instead, your SSD can simply write data to a new location knowing that there is nothing there already. This cuts down on data processing times and reduces the work your SSD has to do.
Despite TRIM offering great benefits to SSD users, it can be very problematic in the event of data loss as it prevents you from performing recovery. But, if TRIM isn’t enabled, data recovery can be performed like normal.
- Download Disk Drill for Mac and install it by moving it into your Applications folder.
- Select your drive and click Search for lost data.
- Click Review found items.
- Select the files you want to recover. Click Recover when ready.
- Choose where you want to save the files, then click OK.