How to Recover Files from Your Mac Hard Drive

Mac hard drive recovery can be tricky. The good news is, Disk Drill takes a complicated task and makes it simple. When you need to recover files from a Mac hard drive - either internal or external, Disk Drill can help you get your data back quickly.

Normally, in order to recover data from a hard drive with your Mac, it has to be able to spin up and respond. However, as long as the hard drive can be mounted into Mac OS X, even with physical damage on the drive, Disk Drill can help!

Depending on the seriousness of the disaster, you might be able to see some files and folders on your hard drive, or the disk may be considered not partitioned, formatted, corrupted, etc. The good news is that Disk Drill can help you to find lost partitions, rebuild HFS+ catalog files and recover the lost data.

Below is an overview of the steps you can take with our hard drive recovery software for Mac. For detailed tutorials, see How to Install Disk Drill and How to Recover Lost Files with Disk Drill Basic in our Knowledgebase. Note that there are special steps you should take if you are trying to recover files from your Mac's internal hard drive.

#1 Download and Install Disk Drill

So you downloaded your copy of Disk Drill hard drive recovery software for Mac, and deployed it to your Applications menu. On the first launch you will need to install the new driver, which is required for correct Mac hard drive recovery. Input your administrator password. After that you are ready to go!

#2 Connect the Hard Drive

If you are recovering data from an external hard drive, connect it now. The required drive should show up in Disk Drill's list of available volumes. Click on the name of the hard drive to view individual partitions.

#3 Choose Your Disk In the List

Disk Drill has several powerful hard drive recovery methods. The methods available to you will be determined by the file system of the hard drive and whether it is formatted at all or not. You can choose to select the entire drive or just one partition. If you choose the whole drive, Disk Drill will use Deep Scan to analyze the whole disk as one entity with a raw file system, meaning it'll analyze every bit of it in a binary mode. However, this takes the longest, so if the partition that contained your deleted data is available, you may want to select that first.

Apple hard drive recovery software screenshot

#4 Select Scanning Method

If you are just learning how to recover from a Mac hard drive, the simplest way to start the recovery process is to click the "Recover" button next to the volume you want to scan. It will automatically go through all available scanning methods one by one. But if you have a particular scanning method you wish to try, you can click the drop-down arrow on the “Recover” button to select an individual scan.

As discussed in the previous step, you can either go on with Deep Scan (which takes the longest but is the most thorough) or Quick Scan (if your data was recently lost and you have an HFS+, FAT or NTFS disk). If you had Disk Drill installed before you lost data, and you had Guaranteed Recovery or Recovery Vault enabled, you may be able to use our most reliable recovery method: Undelete Protected Data.

#5 Wait...

Depending on the scanning method you selected you will need to wait from 1 minute to many hours, if you had to use Deep Scan to recover your hard drive. The scanning speed may also be slower if it is an external hard drive recovery. Since Disk Drill reads every bit of the hard drive, scanning might be long, but hopefully effective.

#6 Have You Used Data Protection?

Disk Drill has two unique data protection features: Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery. The use of these features makes hard drive recovery, especially from your Mac's internal hard drive, much more quick and effective. Recovery Vault provides a "map" by which Disk Drill can find lost files, while Guaranteed Recovery actually makes an invisible copy of all files put in your Mac's Trash. When doing a scan, Disk Drill will look for these files first.

#7 Recover From Mac Hard Drive

Once the scanning is complete, you will see the list of found files. Sometimes these files can still be corrupt. This means that another application may have overwritten a block of bits and the whole file structure is lost. Unfortunately there's no way to prevent this. Data recovery is all about luck! (The one exception to this is Guaranteed Recovery.) Click the "eye" icon next to each name to Preview the file to determine if the file is intact.

When you are ready, select the files and click the "Recover" button. Upgrade to Disk Drill PRO if needed. Make sure the recovery destination is outside of the hard drive you are recovering from. Wait until all the recovered files are copied to the new media.

#8 Deep Scan Is About File Signatures

When reading raw data from a hard drive with Deep Scan, Disk Drill doesn't care if it's FAT, NTFS, or whatever. All the data is simply a series of bits to our hard drive recovery software. This is exactly where Disk Drill starts to apply its knowledge of file signatures. And it has quite a few! Once the known signature is found, it's easy work to retrieve file types like .jpg, .doc or .xls, etc. You can view the complete list of the file types that can be recovered with Deep Scan here.

So now you know how Disk Drill can help you with Mac hard drive recovery. What are you waiting for? Download the free version of Disk Drill today. Or if you are a Windows user, here's the version of Disk Drill for Windows for you.

Disk Drill is obviously a carefully thought out, well planned application designed to be user-friendly for people of all levels of ability. It’s always a pleasure to use applications that are so well prepared. - Jackson Derek