For an average person, a storage drive is no more than a media to keep photos, videos, documents, and other personal files. There could be important documents too and pictures with moments that you can relive or relish again; they are the memories. Therefore, when drive crashes or gets corrupt, it results in loss of data, which can be considered a tragic loss of confidential and sentimental data items. Whereas, work & business-related data can lead to closure of the business and huge financial loss. For intelligence agencies, data loss is too serious to even think. After all, it is about the national security.
There are many reasons for data loss ranging from hardware and software failures (44%) to unknown reasons that account for 4%. Human errors (32%) are the second most common reasons for data loss. Other factors such as power surge, virus infection, malware attacks, sudden power failure, overheating, and so forth also accounts for many data loss scenarios.
It is often helpful to be able to recover files manually or use a file recovery software.
Do you Know that:
1) 30% of major businesses do not have a disaster data recovery strategy in place.
2) 90% of businesses without a disaster recovery plan will not likely succeed after a disaster.
3) 1 in 3 businesses on the globe is not fully prepared for disaster, even when they have a recovery plan in place.
Tips to Recover Lost Data from Windows Drive
Once data is lost, you need to be extra careful while handling the storage media or the device containing storage devices such as PC, smartphones, etc. that use HDD, SSDs, and SD cards for data storage. Here are a few pro-tips that will help you recover data from a Windows drive:
- After data loss occurs, immediately stop using the affected storage media or the system to avoid overwriting. Overwritten data can’t be recovered, therefore, you need to be more careful while handling your PC or storage media immediately after data loss
- Data recovery processes vary based on the reason of data loss. Analyze the reason first as it gives you an idea whether the data loss situation can be handled with a software (for logical damage) or requires physical repair & diagnosis (for physical damage)
- Data recovery is a remedial measure that you require after data loss in the absence of any backup. Backups help you restore data and save your business or work from being obstructed. Therefore, inculcate a habit of creating regular and frequent backups based on the severity of data
- Use only a reliable and trusted third party data recovery software such as Recuva, Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional, Power Data Recovery etc. which is capable of recovering lost & deleted data (including custom file types) from all types of storage media even if the media is inaccessible, severely corrupt, formatted or is encrypted.
Methods to Recover Data from Windows Drive
1. Restore Data from Recycle Bin
Always check the Recycle Bin first for the lost data. Windows by default keep deleted files & folders under Recycle Bin folder unless you use a file eraser software or the Shift+Delete key combination. To recover data from Recycle Bin, follow these steps:
- On the Desktop, double-click Recycle Bin folder to open it
- Choose the files and folders you want to restore
- Right-click and choose ‘Restore’. The files and folders will be restored to their original location. Alternatively, choose Cut and then paste selected files and folders to any location you want
2. Use Restore to Previous Version
Use the previous Version when the data is permanently deleted using Shift+Delete or by emptying ‘Recycle Bin’. However, it only works if you have enabled it before the data loss
- Locate the folder that contained the deleted files & folders
- Right-click on the folder and then, choose ‘Restore previous versions’
- Choose the Time when deleted files and folders were there and click Restore
- Click Restore again when the pop up appears
3. Restore using Backup
You can quickly restore your lost and deleted data using the backup you might have created. Backup is the most efficient way of restoring data. However, if the backup is not available, consider implementing a reliable data recovery software immediately to avoid permanent data loss.
4. Implement a Data Recovery Software
Data Recovery software can help you get back your lost and deleted data with just a few clicks. You can use professional data recovery software to recover lost data from any storage media formatted as NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. Follow these simple steps to restore formatted data from affected drive or PC:
- Download, install and launch free DIY hard drive recovery software
TIP: Connect the affected storage media to PC. If the data loss occurred on your Windows PC, either remove the drive from the PC and use an HDD enclosure or install the software on the unaffected partition of the drive if you want to run software on the same PC. You can use an external drive too
- Choose What file types you want to recover from the screen
- Click ‘Next’
- Choose the drive under connected drive or locate the folder from where files got deleted
You can also choose to ‘Recover from Disk images’ option to Image Disk, in case the drive is severely corrupt or showing signs of failure, to avoid further stress on the drive and facilitate faster data recovery without using the actual affected drive (once the image is created)
In case, the entire partition was lost, got corrupt, or deleted; choose ‘Can’t Find Drive’ option to recover data from deleted and missing hard drive partitions
- Turn on the ‘Deep Scan’ toggle switch that appears on the bottom-left of the software ‘Deep Scan’ facilitates RAW recovery. It enables software to scan each sector several times and dig deeper into the storage media to recover hidden and lost files
- Click ‘Scan’ and wait for the process to finish
- Select the Files and Folders to preview & explore them within the software. Use the search bar to locate and recover specific files and folders only
- After selection, click the ‘Recover’ button and then click ‘Browse’
- Choose a location on either external drive or internal drive partition. Make sure not to select the drive or partition from where recovery is being done
- Click ‘Start Saving’ and wait for the software to save the recovered files and folders at your desired location
Tips to Prevent the Data Loss
- Keep an eye on the hard drive and other storage media health using Windows inbuilt utilities like CHKDSK and S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring system. CHKDSK repairs the hard drive and marks the bad sectors so that data is not stored (in future) on those sectors to prevent data corruption. Running CHKDSK is suitable for hard drives but you should avoid using CHKDSK utility for SSDs. However, you can access S.M.A.R.T. data and detect how your SSD or HDD is performing. The data displays all the information about the drive and warns you about drive health along with the signs of failure (if any). You can use the information to take appropriate actions and avoid permanent data loss before the drive fails.
- Use partitions for segregating different data. This not only facilitates quick data access but also helps you avoid data loss that occurs when partition gets corrupt due to virus or malware infection or is deleted due to human errors, which again is quite common.
- Implement a reliable and trusted anti-virus and anti-malware protection to combat infections and corruptions due to various malware and viruses
- Enable the Restore Previous version feature by enabling ‘Restore your Files with File History’ option
- Always create a restore point before installing or uninstalling a software, upgrading the OS, or making any major change to computer settings
- Use UPS to avoid power surges and sudden power failure
- Protect drive from overheating by providing proper ventilation
- While storing drive or PC for a longer period, make sure the device is kept under a cool and dry environment. You can use silica gel sachets around to protect the hard drive or laptop from moisture. Use a container with appropriate cushioning to avoid physical damage since hard drives are quite fragile.
- Inculcate a habit of creating frequent backups to combat data loss situation in an efficient manner.
- Avoid using the ‘Shift+Delete’ key to remove files. Use the ‘Delete’ key or right-click and choose ‘Delete’ to remove files. This way, you can restore files from the ‘Recycle Bin’ in case you accidentally delete an important file or folder; remember human errors. Even if you use ‘Shift+Delete’ often, just think twice or thrice before pressing the ‘Enter’ key.
We discussed various tips & methods to recover lost data from a Windows hard drive and shared some important tips on preventive measures one should take to avoid data loss in the first place. Although data loss is inevitable, you can avoid permanent data loss by taking some preventive measures that we already discussed in this post.