Recovery Vault is a Disk Drill feature that you can use to protect yourself from future data loss. Below you’ll find frequently asked questions about it. To learn how to enable and recover files with it, see How to Use Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery.
What Is Recovery Vault?
When Recovery Vault is enabled to protect a particular drive or partition, Disk Drill uses a special background service to monitor that drive or partition for changes. When a file is deleted, Disk Drill remembers the metadata for the file.
Why Should I Use Recovery Vault?
Mac HFS/HFS+ hard drives do not save the metadata (filename, file location, etc.) for files that are deleted. This makes recovering files difficult, because without the filename, you may have to preview dozens – if not hundreds – of files to find the one you are looking for. If you protect a drive with Recovery Vault:
- Scanning for lost files is much quicker. There is no need to do a lengthy Deep Scan.
- Deleted files keep their filenames intact, so the file you need to recover can be easily identified.
- Files can be recovered at no extra charge. There is no need to upgrade to a paid version of Disk Drill in order to recover files from a folder protected by Recovery Vault.
How Is Recovery Vault Different from Guaranteed Recovery?
Recovery Vault saves the metadata of deleted files, but it does not save a copy of the file itself. While Recovery Vault greatly improves your chances of recovering a file, it does not guarantee it — the deleted files could be overwritten by new data and lost for good. Recovery Vault can protect any folder on your drive or partition, so not only can it help with files that were sent to the Trash, but it can also help recover files that were transferred to another disk. The Recovery Vault footprint is fairly small and it does not require a lot of storage space.
Guaranteed Recovery actually saves a complete copy of the file, making it much more likely that the file can be successfully recovered (thus the name “Guaranteed”). By default, it only monitors the Trash folder, so files lost through transfer to other disks are not protected. (But if you are running Mac OS 10.8, you can set it to monitor other folders as well.) Guaranteed Recovery also takes up a lot more hard drive space, since you have to store all those deleted files. The amount of storage space you allocate to it can be adjusted though. See Guaranteed Recovery FAQs for more information.
Is Recovery Vault Resource Hungry?
No, Recovery Vault is not particularly resource hungry. In our tests, hard disk speed changes from 1-3% when Disk Drill is doing internal Recovery Vault routines and it produces no noticeable slowdowns. It doesn’t use too much disk space either — with 10,000 files protected, the Recovery Vault file is only about 60MB. Learn more about Recovery Vault resource usage…
What Kind of Drives Can I Protect with Recovery Vault?
On a Mac, you can protect any drive or partition with an HFS+, FAT/FAT32 or ExFAT file system. Unfortunately, Recovery Vault cannot be enabled on APFS and raw partitions (the ones without a file system). Also, the protected partition has to be write/read enabled. Read-only partitions or disk images cannot be protected with Recovery Vault on Macs, which is why the NTFS file system is not supported. However, Disk Drill for Windows can protect NTFS logical volumes 🎉
External drives, such as external hard drives or USB flash drives, can be protected. The Recovery Vault file is stored on the external drive itself, so it can be updated on any Mac you connect it to that has Disk Drill installed. Keep in mind that if any file deletion occurs elsewhere (on an unprotected Mac or other device) Recovery Vault will not be updated. The drive needs to be directly connected to your Mac — mapped network drives cannot be protected.
What Kind of Files Can I Protect with Recovery Vault?
Recovery Vault can protect any file type — it is not restricted to certain file types like Deep Scan recovery is. Recovery Vault is great for restoring applications, where multiple files in multiple locations are involved. Recovery Vault is also an effective way to recover plain text files like emails from Apple’s Mail app. Remember that Recovery Vault can only recover files from the folders it protects — to verify the specific folders being monitored, click on Protect and then click on Advance next to the drive or partition in question.
Should I Protect a Time Machine Volume?
No. There is no need to enable Recovery Vault for a Time Machine volume, and your system could experience slowdowns if you enable protection on it. If you have Time Machine on a partitioned drive, you can enable protection on the non-Time-Machine partitions, and just leave the Time Machine partition unprotected.
Should I Protect My System or Applications Folder?
No, we don’t recommend it. The activity in the system folder is enormous and trying to protect it may slow your Mac down. These aren’t normally the type of files you would need to recover anyway. With applications, licensed users can usually download a new copy of the app from the developer as needed, so backing them up is normally unnecessary.
What Are the Advanced Options for Recovery Vault?
On the Protect screen, where it shows the protection status of each drive or partition, you will see two options:
- Reset Storage: Be very careful using this option. Resetting storage will erase all of the data in the Recovery Vault file, meaning you will no longer be able to recover those files using Undelete Protected Data. If you are sure there are no deleted files that you need, then resetting storage is a good way to free up some hard drive space. When you click “Reset Storage” you will get a message asking if you are sure. There is a drop-down menu on the left that says “Keep data for” where you can choose to keep the data for the last day, week, month, or none. Select your option and then click “Reset.”
- Advanced: By clicking on Advanced, you can specify particular folders on a drive or partition that should, or should not, be protected. There are two tabs at the top: Protected Folders and Exclusion Masks. Select the desired tab and then click the “+Add folder” button on the lower-right to add a folder.
Why Didn’t a File I Deleted Show Up in Recovery Vault?
There are a few reasons why a file might not show up:
- The disk or partition you deleted the file from was not protected. Go through the How to Use Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery tutorial to ensure you have the right volumes protected.
- The volume was protected, but not the particular folder this file was in. To verify the specific folders being monitored, click on Protect and then click on Advance next to the drive or partition in question.
- The Mac OS will only actually delete a file from a FAT disk/partition after it resets its internal file cache. This is probably true for NTFS-partitioned media as well (if it’s mounted in read-write mode). If you wait a day or so, the file should eventually show up.
How Is My Privacy Protected? Can I Use a Password?
One issue with Recovery Vault is that it makes it easier for anyone who has access to your computer to recover your deleted files. If you wish to ensure your privacy, Disk Drill has a password option. Simply go to the menu bar and select Disk Drill > Preferences and then click on the Security tab. Enter your Master Password twice, and an email address that we can send your password to if you forgot it. (The email address is optional, but you will not be able to recover the password without it.) You do not need to click the Reset button — simply switch to another tab and your password will be saved. Once you have set the password, you will be asked for it every time Disk Drill is launched.
If you need to change your password, go back to the Security tab, enter your new password twice and click Reset. If you forget your password, click the “Forgot Password” button on the left when Disk Drill asks you for the password.
Remember, in some cases Recovery Vault can be used by forensic experts in their investigations.