How to recover deleted files and data from external hard disk

It is often possible to delete some files previously saved on an external hard drive, sometimes due to an error, other times because they are sure to have backed up. Many may think that now the process of data recovery is irreversible, but in reality it is not always the case. Of course we need to analyze some factors, which we will see together in this guide, and if recovery is possible, you can rely on certain programs available for WindowsMacOS and Linux.

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Premises on data recovery

As already mentioned, unfortunately it is not always possible to perform data recovery from an external hard disk.

In fact, if the files previously saved on the hard disk have been overwritten by other writes, unfortunately the process of data recovery is irreversible, as they have been permanently deleted. However, in these cases, it is recommended to rely on technical support, as it is also possible that the hard disk has not been overwritten completely and that the files may still be present on a small part of memory.

In case the files have not been overwritten, you can use some data recovery programs, such as:

  • MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows/macOS)
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows/macOS)
  • PhotoRec (Windows/macOS/Linux)
  • Recuva (Windows)

Attention, avoid installing these programs on the hard disk from which you are going to recover the deleted data, as there is very high risk of incurring overwriting of the previously removed data.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows/macOS)

This software not only allows recovery of deleted data, but also offers the opportunity to perform a scan to establish corrupted files within a partition. In the free version, the program allows to recover up to 1 Gigabyte of data; if instead you need to exceed this limit, then you can buy the various licenses directly from the official site.

If used as a Windows operating system, then you do not have to do is go to the official page, and click on Free Download. Once downloaded, open the file, and click on Yes in the window that will appear. Then click on Next, select the item I accept the agreement, and click again on Next twice in a row; Now click on Yes on the screen that will appear, then on Next, and finally on Install.

After the installation, open the program, click on Removable Disk Drive on the left menu, select the external media inserted, and then click on Scan at the bottom right. Well, now the program will perform a hard disk check, and you will end up with a list of files: those marked with red X, those deleted, those with a red exclamation mark, that is RAW files, and finally those with a red question mark, referring to the lost folders.

Then check from the list the files you are going to restore (if you can not find one, you can go to Find at the top, and search manually), click on Save, and in the next screen you have to choose the folder in which to export the files; finally click on Ok, and wait for the procedure to finish. You can also save the list of found files by clicking Export Scan Result at the top, and filter the files based on determining criteria.

If you use macOS instead, to download the software you must always go to the official page, and click on Free Download. Once downloaded, open the package, click on Agree in the screen that appears, and drag the program icon in the Applications folder. Finally click on it selecting the item Open, and type the password related to your account (this operation should be performed only the first start of the program).

When the program has opened, click on Undelete Recovery, selecting the external media inserted, and then click on Scan at the bottom right. The next steps are practically identical to those you need to run on Windows, so in case you have not read it before, scroll up, and perform the same operations.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows/macOS)

Even this software is very effective in these situations, and can not just restore files deleted by mistake, but can also extract them from damaged or formatted hard drives (as well as from SD cards or USB sticks). In the free version, the program allows you to recover up to 2 Gigabytes of data; if you prefer to exceed this limit, you can buy the paid version directly from the official website.

If used as a Windows operating system, then go to the official page, and click on Free Download. Once the download is complete, open the file, and click first on Yes, then on OK; then click on NextAcceptConfirmInstall and Complete respectively.

Once installed, open the program by selecting the external media inserted, and click on Scan located at the bottom right. After the scan, you will find yourself in front of all the deleted files, in which you have to check the ones you are going to restore, then click on Recover, and in the next screen you have to select the folder on which to save the data; Now click on Done, and wait for the process to finish (if you can not find a specific file, click on Filter located at the top).

If you use macOS instead, then always go to the official page, and click on Free Trial. After the download, open the package, and drag the program icon directly to the Applications folder, clicking Open consecutively twice to start the program (this operation should be performed only when the program is started for the first time).

Once the program has been opened, all you have to do is perform the same operations described above, which are valid for both operating systems.

PhotoRec (Windows/macOS/Linux)

This is a free and open source software, and is called this because it is very useful in the recovery of photos and images; do not worry, it is also very effective in recovering other types of files, even from SD cards and USB sticks. It also works on formatted or badly damaged media.

It is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, but is recommended only on Windows, as only on the latter is equipped with a graphical interface.

If you intend to install it, then go to the official site, and click on Windows if the architecture of your device is 32 bit, or if not, click on 64-bit Windows. After downloading, extract the program from WinRar or WinZip (if they are not already on your device, then download one of the two), and click on qphotorec_win.exe.

Once the program is open, first select the external media inserted, then indicate the partition to be scanned, and check the box next to the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiserFS/ …option.

Now select all the files you are going to retrieve, by clicking on File formats (if you prefer to use a search criterion, then go to Reset ), and to finish just click on Browse, selecting the folder in which you prefer to save data; at this point, once you click on Search, the process should start automatically.

Recuva (Windows)

Surely this software is a simpler and more immediate to use, and allows not only to recover deleted files from hard disk or other memory cards, but also to restore files emptied from the Recycle Bin. Both the free and paid versions are available, both of which you can download from the official website (available only on Windows).

Once the download is complete, open the file, and click on Yes first, selecting the your language, then click on Install; Now click on the newly installed program, and a Recuva Wizard will appear.

In the new screen then click on Next, and again on Next after choosing the type of file you are trying to recover, then you will be asked to select the location of the files to be recovered (in case of hard disk, select media card or iPod ), then click on Next, and then click on Start.

Now the program will scan the external media, and then you will find a list of all the files found; then select the ones you are going to recover, and click on Recover, specifying the folder in which to restore the data.

Attention, it is possible to recover only the files marked with a green dot (those marked with a red dot are now irrecoverable).

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