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What is Hard Disk Recovery?

Dan Blacharski
Dan Blacharski

Almost everyone who has ever used a computer has erased a file that they later wanted to bring back. The less fortunate may have also had the experience of losing an entire hard drive. Luckily, hard disk recovery allows for lost data to be recovered.

Hard disk recovery is possible because of data remanence, which means that some data continues to exist on the hard drive even after it has been deleted. While data remanence is beneficial to hard disk recovery, there is also a downside; that is, data remanence is one of the most convenient tools used in cyber-espionage. That's why computer security experts tell you that simply erasing a file doesn't always completely delete it.

Hard disk.
Hard disk.

A hard drive contains a series of hard disks that rotate rapidly. These disks are coated with magnetic particles, similar to a magnetic recording tape. The hard disk is actually very durable, and good maintenance will ensure long life. If it is not exposed to extreme temperatures, and does not suffer any physical damage, it can easily last for ten years. However, hard disks do have several moving parts, and can become damaged or wear out.

Regularly backing up the hard drive, as well as defragmenting it, can help with hard disk recovery.
Regularly backing up the hard drive, as well as defragmenting it, can help with hard disk recovery.

Hard disk recovery reconstructs lost files, regardless of whether they were deleted accidentally or are inaccessible due to a crashed hard drive. In some circumstances, the hard disk may become inaccessible because of a hardware problem. The actuator arm, a small mechanical arm that moves back and forth across the disk, may have suffered a mechanical error. In this event, the data is not lost at all, but is just inaccessible due to this mechanical problem. Similarly, the circuit board may develop flaws, which may make the hard disk inoperable. If there are strange noises, or no noise at all, the cause is likely mechanical, and a technician will have to disassemble the hard drive to repair the problem. In some cases, the mechanical problem may cause the drive itself to become damaged, which may directly affect the data. Alternatively, data loss may occur due to a software problem.

Taking a little preventive action can help prevent the need for hard disk recovery. When files become fragmented, they are stored in multiple clusters on the hard drive, which makes the computer take more time to read it. A drive with a lot of fragmentation will be harder to recover in the event of a crash. Therefore, it is recommended to regularly defrag your hard drive.

When a file is deleted, the operating system marks the file name with a character that informs the computer that it has been deleted. The deleted data is actually still on the drive until the file system overwrites it, but the operating system can no longer access it. The process of hard disk recovery finds the data that the operating system is unaware of, but still exists in individual clusters on the hard drive. However, clusters that have become corrupted or physically damaged cannot be recovered. In these cases, hard disk recovery has a greater likelihood of success if it is attempted immediately after the failure so as not to give the sectors with missing data an opportunity to be overwritten. A professional hard disk recovery service will not work on the hard drive itself, but will instead make a sector copy of the hard drive and work from that.

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Discussion Comments


First and foremost, stop using the drive for anything. Otherwise, you will begin overwriting information you are trying to recover.

To attempt this yourself, you first need to put the drive back the way it was so it will show up in recovery software. Both options below require the drive to be formatted as a Mac partition.

1) Go back to Disk Utility and make the drive a single partition as OS X Extended, which is where it was to begin with. Do not choose any options such as a zero write erase. Only the quick repartitioning. That will rewrite just the file table and leave the rest of the drive alone.

2) Purchase either uFlysoft or FileSalvage. Do not download them to, or install them on the drive you are trying to recover.

3) If you have no other drive to install the recovery software to, you can purchase them on a bootable disk. But that still leaves you needing a second drive to recover your files to. You cannot recover files to the same drive you are working from, as it will overwrite files at the same time it is trying to recover them. So you will also have to purchase another drive. Internal, or external, and format it for Mac OS Extended.

If after that, you still can't recover what you need, your only option is a recovery service, such as Drive Savers. This can easily run over a thousand dollars.


Not all data recovery services are the same. Make sure to compare apples to apples and find out exactly what the final price will be and what you will be getting.

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      Hard disk.
    • Regularly backing up the hard drive, as well as defragmenting it, can help with hard disk recovery.
      By: enens
      Regularly backing up the hard drive, as well as defragmenting it, can help with hard disk recovery.