Reading Time: 6 minutesAccidentally deleting all the data from a hard drive can be scary. But, thanks to data recovery programs, you can recover all your files from an accidentally wiped hard drive, right at home. Read our guide below to understand how you can do this safely and without burning a hole in your pocket.
How to Recover Wiped Hard Drive on a Windows Computer
There are three primary ways to recover a wiped hard drive–use a data recovery program, contact a professional data recovery service, and connect the hard drive to another PC to perform data recovery.
You can recover data from a wiped hard drive using data recovery software, by simply downloading the app, installing it, and then scanning the hard drive. Of course, your computer should be able to boot, or you’ll need to connect the wiped hard drive to another PC and then scan it using a data recovery program.
If data recovery software is not an option, you can recover a wiped hard drive by contacting a professional data recovery service and having them take a look at it.
Let’s take a detailed look at the three ways to perform wiped hard drive recovery:
Option 1: Data Recovery Software – Disk Drill
There are numerous data recovery programs available in the market, but Disk Drill is one program we can confidently recommend. It is one of the most versatile data recovery programs on the market. It supports a wide range of file systems and all major storage devices.
The program’s byte-to-byte backup feature lets you create disk images and scan them. This prevents extra disk usage that can further harm the hard drive. Here are the steps to create and scan the disk image to recover your data:
- Download Disk Drill and run the installer.
- Open Disk Drill and click on the Drive Backup option in the left pane.
- Here, select the wiped drive or partition, then click the Byte-to-byte backup button at the top.
- Select where you want to save the disk image, and ensure the Format is set to Bytes. Click OK. Disk Drill will create the disk image.
- Now go back and ensure you’re on the Data Recovery tab.
- Click on the Attach disk image option, browse for the previously created disk image, and click OK.
- Now, select the disk image and click on Search for lost data. Disk Drill will begin scanning the disk image.
- You can view the recoverable files while the scan is underway or wait for it to be over. Either way, you just need to click on Review found items.
- On the next screen, recover files from the wiped hard drive by selecting the files using the checkbox, and then click on Recover. You can double-click a file to see a preview.
- Choose a recovery location for the recovered files. Don’t choose a directory on the wiped hard drive. Click on OK.
Disk Drill will recover the files to the selected location.
Option 2: Data Recovery Services
If the hard drive was wiped because of physical damage, it’s better to contact a data recovery service. While you can recover data from a corrupted hard drive in some cases, severe logical corruption that renders the HDD unreadable is best dealt with by professional services.
Data recovery services are substantially more expensive than data recovery programs, but your drive is handled by experts.
An overview of how data recovery services operate:
- The user contacts the data recovery company and books an evaluation.
- The wiped hard drive needs to be dropped off or shipped to the data recovery lab.
- The company evaluates the drive (usually free).
- If there is recoverable data, the company contacts the user and provides them with a quote.
- The user can then decide if they want to proceed with the data recovery.
Option 3: Connect the Wiped Hard Drive to Another Computer and Recover
It’s possible that the wiped hard drive or partition contained the Windows OS. Therefore, you cannot perform data recovery on the same computer that houses the HDD as the computer won’t boot. In this case, you will need another computer to perform data recovery using data recovery programs.
Instructions on how to connect a wiped hard drive to another PC and recover data from it:
- Remove the HDD from the original PC. This process will differ across manufacturers, but there are various YouTube videos that can familiarize you with the process. Don’t forget to refer to your motherboard and PC cabinet’s user manuals as well
- Now, you’ll need to purchase a hard drive enclosure and place the wiped hard drive inside the enclosure. Remember to connect the relevant cables by using the manual.
- Lastly, connect the enclosure to the PC using its USB cable. After connecting the hard drive, your PC should detect the hard drive as any other storage drive. You can then use Disk Drill to scan the drive and recover your lost data.
What Happens When a Hard Drive Is Wiped
There are different reasons why a hard drive could be completely wiped. What exactly happens in some common scenarios is explained below:
|Reason for a Wiped Hard Drive||Explanation|
|The user accidentally deletes all the data.||In this case, the files are still on the drive, but they’re marked as invisible. Therefore, until new data overwrites the previous data, you can still restore your files.|
|The user formats the drive.||A Full Format is irreversible and permanently erases the data. However, you can still recover data after a Quick Format.|
|The hard drive is wiped because of logical damage.||Mild logical damage due to malware or corruption can cause data loss, which can be easily undone using data recovery software. Severe logical damage is harder to deal with, and a data recovery service is your only bet.|
|Physical damage such as shock, a power surge, or water, damages the hard drive and makes the data inaccessible.||Physical damage cannot be handled at home, and attempting DIY recovery will further harm the wiped hard drive. Again, it’s best to contact a professional data recovery service.|
|The hard drive was wiped using shredding programs.||There are specialized programs that are created for wiping out hard drives. HDDs wiped using these apps are impossible to recover data from.|
How to Increase Chances for Data Recovery
The success of your data recovery procedure depends on various factors such as–the reason for data loss, time elapsed, and whether you used the drive after data loss.
To substantially increase the extent of data recovery, keep the following tips in mind:
- Stop using the drive as soon as you discover the data loss. Writing new data to the drive overwrites the previous data and makes it irrecoverable. Even the normal operations of Windows can write new files to the drive.
- Attempt data recovery as soon as possible. Delaying data recovery increases the chances of new data being written to the drive.
- Use the best data recovery program right from the beginning. The first data recovery attempt is the most successful.
- Save the recovered files on another drive to prevent overwriting of data or chances of deletion again.
- Contact a data recovery service if the drive was wiped because of physical damage. Don’t tamper with the drive at home.
To conclude, you can recover a wiped hard drive in the comfort of your home using the sections above. Some takeaways to keep in mind:
- Use a data recovery program to scan the disk image of the wiped hard drive.
- If needed, contact a professional data recovery service.
- Keep the data recovery tips in mind.