If you’ve recently lost files on your Mac—whether because your hard drive failed or simply because you accidentally deleted a folder—you might be wondering what options are available to you for data recovery. If you don’t have a Time Machine backup and don’t use an external hard drive or a cloud service to back up your files at all times, know that the process will be more difficult. It’s not tough to see why many Mac users will start backing up all of their files after going through a data loss scare.
Still, while an incident like this might push you to buy an external hard drive and start preserving your files, such a solution will only save your data in the future. It can’t retroactively recover any lost data that you did not already have backed up.
Data Recovery Strategies
Luckily, external hard drives, cloud-based services, and Time Machine backups are not the only options for data recovery on a Mac. On the contrary, there are a number of methods out there that you can use to find, access, and recover files that you thought were deleted. Even after you’ve deleted a file and emptied the trash, that file isn’t completely gone. On the contrary, as this Cult of Mac article explains, until you write something new to the disk, a vacant spot is kept open where the deleted file used to be. As long as this vacant spot remains, data recovery is completely possible.
Unsurprisingly, many app developers have created data recovery tools to take advantage of these new technologies. As such, if you need to recover data from your Mac’s hard drive, there is no shortage of apps that you can use to make the attempt.
Still, recovering your data is not as simple as downloading a recovery program directly to your hard drive and clicking run. The more you do with your computer after deleting a file (or losing a whole slew of them), the more new data is going to be written onto your drive. The more new data that is written to the drive, the more difficult it will be to recover the deleted files because they may be overwritten entirely. For this reason, most experts advise that you largely stop using a computer if and when you realize that data recovery is necessary. Close your email client; shut down your apps; do everything you can to minimize new data writing.
If you are going to try a data recovery program, do not download it to the disk that requires the recovery. Instead, download it onto an external hard drive or USB flash drive and then run it from there. Data Recovery Guru, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and Prosoft Data Rescue are among the more acclaimed data recovery tools for Mac. All of these programs will scan your disk and create lists of deleted files—often sorted by different file types. You can search through the files to find your deleted data and then back it up to the external disk you are using to run the recovery tool.
The Drawbacks of Data Recovery Tools
Data recovery tools, while far ahead of where they were just five or so years ago, are not foolproof or especially user-friendly tools. They can be used to recover deleted data, but they aren’t particularly useful if you don’t have an external disk to run them from, can take hours to scan if you have a lot of files, and are sometimes fruitless anyway. Not all recovery tools find the exact same files, which means you might have to use several to recover everything you are looking for. They also don’t usually recover filenames, which can make finding your deleted file like searching for a needle in a haystack.
In order to avoid the frustration of using data recovery tools—or worse, the permanent loss of your data—you might consider hiring a professional data recovery team to do the job. If you don’t feel comfortable running programs from external disks or sorting through lots and lots of deleted files, skip the DIY process and call Vital Tech instead! Our senior technicians will delve into your system and find your deleted data, with the experience and self-assurance that you might not necessarily have for this kind of project. Call us today at 240-813-0692 to get our help.