How to Recover Data from Mac Hard Drive

Data recovery on Mac hard drive 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.
For successful hard drive recovery on your Mac, it has to be able to spin up and respond. However, as long as the hard drive can be mounted onto 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 become 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. Also, disk physical damage may substantially lower the success rate of the hard drive recovery.

#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 hard drive recovery on Mac OS X. Enter your administrator password. After that you are ready to go!
  • 1Download Disk Drill
  • 2Drag to Application Folder
  • 3Launch Disk Drill

#2 Verify disk condition

As mentioned before, physical damage to your storage device is no help with software-based data recovery. If the target disk got bad sectors, or electronic controller fails in some operations, it's not much that can be done by Disk Drill with data stored in affected disk areas. However, before that happens, if you suspect an improper disk behavior, ticking sounds, slow read/write operations, we recommend using Disk Drill's supplemental free tool that helps anyone create a byte-to-byte disk image in a DMG (or ISO) format.
Just proceed with "Backup / Backup into DMG-image". The unique aspect of the byte-to-byte backups is the fact they actually store the contents of data sectors that were marked as empty, not occupied by data. Yes, you get it right, the sectors where your lost data can still reside. Once the backup disk image is created, you may start your hard drive recovery from the image instead of the real hardware. This will ensure the final failure will not occur while Deep Scanning, more data stays safe and potentially recoverable.

Hard drive recovery mac

#3 Recovering from your system (root) drive

If you are planning to do hard drive recovery from your system Mac drive, the one you are booted from, chances are more recoverable data gets lost completely by overwriting with various system activities being run in the background when you boot, launch apps, etc. If you cannot connect the hard drive with lost data to another computer and run the recovery there, we recommend creating a bootable data recovery drive and running Disk Drill off it. The "Create boot drive" wizard will guide you through the process. It takes a few minutes to maximize your data recovery chances. If creating a bootable Mac USB drive is not an option, proceed in a regular way.

Hard drive recovery software mac

#4 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.

Have you ensured your data is protected?

Disk Drill offers unique data protection features that let you keep your data secure and not worry anything can be lost: Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery. Recovery Vault creates a "map" for Disk Drill to help it find lost files, while Guaranteed Recovery creates an invisible copy of all files sent to Trash. If the recovery is necessary Disk Drill will look for such files in the first place.

#5 Choose Your Disk From the List

Disk Drill has several powerful methods for hard drive recovery on Mac OS X. The ones 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 scan 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.

#6 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.

Hard drive data recovery mac

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.

#7 Wait...

Depending on the scanning method you selected you will need to wait from 1 minute to may be several hours, if you are using Deep Scan to recover your hard drive. The scanning speed may also be slower if you need to recover files from external hard drive on Mac. Since Disk Drill reads every bit of the hard drive, scanning might be long, but as effective as possible.

HDD recovery mac

#8 Recover From Mac Hard Drive

Once the scanning is complete, you will see the list of found files. Sometimes these files can still be corrupted. 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. In reality, data recovery on Mac is mostly 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.
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.

Recover From Mac Hard Drive

Disk Drill is excellent for data recovery on Mac hard drive

Deep Scan of Disk Drill is exceptionally good for cases when there is hardly any file structure left. Deep Scan works through the raw data on your hard drive (FAT, NTFS, etc.). Disk Drill has a great knowledgebase of file signatures and applies it efficiently. Once the known signature is retrieved, it is much easier to recover files with XLS, DOC, AVI, MP4, JPG, and other extensions.

Protection is equally important!

Disk Drill 3
Recover data from Mac hard drive and get your important files back now!
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See what Disk Drill fans say

  • Dina Maria
    Disk Drill data recovery software will get ALL your important photo, video data back!
    In addition to undeleting files, Disk Drill can find lost partitions, monitor the status of your hard drive, alert you if it is in danger of failing. It makes sense for everyone to get Disk Drill even if you don’t have lost files to save. Erica Marceau
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