Tips For Recovering Data From A Hard Drive

All hard drives eventually fail – but when yours crashes unexpectedly, it’s likely you’ll want to recover some of your most important files. We’ve compiled some tips for extending the life of your hard drive as well as how you can go about recovering lost data in the event of hard drive failure.

How To Prolong The Life Of Your Hard Drive

While it’s not always possible to prevent hard drive failure, there are some ways to extend its life:

  • Install a monitoring tool. We recommend installing Acronis Drive Monitor so you can keep an eye on the temperature of your hard drive as well as how much free space it has. It’s free to install and notifies you by email in the event of a hard drive error so you can act promptly.
  • Keep things cool. If your PC overheats, the life of your hard drive and other components is dramatically shortened. Avoid this by keeping your computer well-ventilated – ensure cables are tidy inside the case and clean dust build-ups regularly. Purchasing additional cooling in the form of case fans will keep your computer at the optimum temperature.
  • Run chkdsk. The Windows chkdsk program can identify and resolve hard drive errors, including physical problems and software issues. Type chkdsk X:f (X is the name of your hard drive) when booting up your computer to lock the disk. Select Y to ensure chkdsk runs when you restart your system.
  • Defragment your hard drive. You can also set up an automatic defrag to run weekly to ensure your hard drive remains efficient. Defragging prevents the need for the read heads to move as often, so there’s less risk of mechanical failure.
  1. Go to Start and type Disk Defragmenter in the search box then click on it.
  2. Look under Current status for the disk you want to be defragmented and select Analyze disk.
  3. The Last Run column will give you a percentage – if it’s higher than 10% you should defrag so click Defragment disk.
  4. You can use your computer while it’s defragging but bear in mind it may take several hours to complete.

While defragmentation can improve the performance of a HDD, if you have an SSD you should disable it as it has the opposite effect and will contribute to premature failure.

To do this, type dfrgui into the search box on the Start menu, select your SSD and click on Configure schedule…

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Untick the box which says Run on a schedule and click OK.

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  • Always back-up your data. Remember to back-up your data regularly – in the event of hard drive failure, you won’t lose any of your most important files.

How Can I Recover Data From a Failed Hard Drive? 

There’s only so much you can do to keep your hard drive running until it fails. If you need to recover data from a failed hard drive, here’s what you can do:

  • Remove your hard drive and connect it to another machine using a USB to IDE/SATA adapter.
  • Try to copy the data you want to recover – if this works, it indicates that the data is fine but the operating system may be corrupt.
  • If you can’t manually copy the data, use free data recovery software to do so. Don’t install it on the failed drive though as it could overwrite the files you want to recover.

PC Users

  • Recuva – try the basic scan first to see if it works. Still no luck? Run the deep scan by selecting the file type you wish to recover and its location – then click start.
  • PC Inspector File Recovery – use this free tool to recover your lost data by searching for the time and date stamp it was last saved.
  • GetDataBack – this program can recover data lost due to damaged hard drive partitions, viruses, formatted drives and system and software failure.

Mac Users

  • MiniTool Mac Data Recovery – there’s a choice of four recovery modules, depending on how your data was lost: undelete recovery, damaged partition recovery, lost partition recovery and digital media recovery.
  • Disk Drill – simply click on recover, choose the drive you want to scan and then run the deep scan to retrieve your lost data. You’ll be given a list of files which can be recovered but you’ll need to buy the pro edition to recover them.

Get the professionals in!

If your drive is physically damaged, has been overwritten or your data was unable to be recovered using the software above, it’s time to get an expert’s opinion. This isn’t the cheapest of options so you’ll need to weigh up whether or not the data you wish to retrieve is worth the extra cost.

Need a new hard drive? Browse the full range of hard drives available at BT Shop.

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