Any techie will tell you to make sure you’re backing up your files, but that can become a task that gets pushed off until later. Oftentimes, it’s only after your computer has crashed that you begin to explore how to back things up via hard drive recovery.
When you haven’t backed up your data and your hard drive crashes, it can seem like the end of the world.
Yet the most important thing you can do is not panic. Instead, keep reading and try one of these hard drive recovery solutions.
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What Causes a Hard Drive to Crash?
Hard drive failure is not created equally. Sometimes it may be a minor annoyance, while other times it can delete years worth of essential data. So what causes it, and can it be prevented?
31% of the time, human error is the cause of hard drive failure. This can include anything from deleting essential files to physically dropping your hard drive on the floor.
Occurring 28% of the time, hardware failure is the second most common cause of hard drive failure. Despite having decades of experience, hard drives are not perfect. Small errors can then lead to physical damage occurring.
Other less common causes include firmware corruption, heat, and water damage.
Repair the Failed Hard Disk or SSD
Now that you understand some of the causes, what can you try if you haven’t backed up your files and your hard drive crashes?
If you’re using a Mac and realize that your hard drive is having problems, the first thing you can try to do is repair it. Use Spotlight Search (Command+Space) or navigate to your Apps folder to launch a program called Disk Utility.
Once Disk Utility has opened, find the disk you are concerned about and click First Aid. A First Aid program will then run, fixing any errors it finds in the process. Keep in mind that you may be unable to access your files while the program is running, although it shouldn’t take long.
Once Disk Utility has finished, it will have repaired any discovered errors. This can sometimes fix problems before they develop and get worse.
Restart Your Computer in Recovery Mode
Restarting your computer (or any device) can generally be used to fix a number of issues. When a disk is failing, restarting in recovery mode will prevent further damage from harming the disk.
When turning on your Mac, hold down Command+R. Don’t let go until you see a spinning globe or the Apple logo. After Disk Utility has finished loading, you can then use it to try and save your files.
After it has completed, you can then try launching it. If it launches, you should then use an external hard drive to preserve the files.
If you’ve lost any files in the process, you should avoid using it. If you don’t and try to use the same disk, your files may be written over when you download new ones.
Try Using a Recovery App
When the go-to computer solving tricks fail you, it might be time to turn to a third-party application.
Remove the afflicted hard drive from your computer, then connect it to another computer for analysis. You can then try using any of the many data recovery apps or websites.
Generally, the app can tell you whether or not the data can be salvaged for free. If it discovers that it can be recovered, it’ll then cost you money (around $100) to recover it. Although this may seem like a scam, the goal is to prevent you from paying, only to then find out that nothing can be salvaged.
After you pay, the scan and recovery will complete anywhere from a matter of hours to a matter of days, depending on how many files you had.
Keep in mind that although you may be able to recover them, your hard drive will be different than you remember it. Files will all be organized by file type (Word, JPEG, etc.), and you may also find new images and sound files from the system folder of your computer.
Decide if it’s worth it to pay the price, then to clean up the returned mess afterward.
Take It To a Professional
Sometimes, all your efforts seem to be in vain. In those cases, consider seeking out a professional service to help recover your files.
Before going to a service, understand that an SSD resets in memory after you delete something. This helps it run faster than a traditional hard drive, but also means that data recovery can be almost impossible.
There are many different professional data recovery services you can choose from. Before you send your hard drive off to one, make sure you check the customer reviews. They should be a reputable organization and not scam people into paying an arm and a leg.
Pricing varies from company to company, but expecting to pay several hundred to $1000 might not be a bad idea. Depending on the data you’ve lost, this can either seem like a rip-off or a bargain.
Time Machine is an application for Mac which saves a compressed screenshot of your computer. This lets you restore it at a later point if necessary. Check out this guide from Setapp which explains how to use it for hard drive data recovery.
Avoid Needing Hard Drive Recovery by Backing up Your Files
Computer crashes can seem earth-shattering, but by taking appropriate steps your files can sometimes be recovered. But the best solution to avoid file loss is to regularly back up your files.
Do you have any other tips or tricks on hard drive recovery? Let us know in a comment below!
For more tech-related guides, don’t forget to check out some of our other blog posts.