Recover HFS Files in Windows with Disk Drill

You normally cannot read Mac-formatted drives and files on Windows computers. Usually, Windows will just erase and format the drive. That does not mean you cannot recover HFS partitions in Windows. You just need a third-party HFS disk recovery solution such as Disk Drill.

Recover HFS Files in Windows with Disk Drill

Experts agree that you should use a mutually compatible file format such as exFAT when you need to use your drives on both Mac and Windows systems. However, all is not lost if your drive uses Apple's HFS, HFS+, or the HFS Plus format. While Windows cannot read the format by default, you can use the Disk Drill HFS recovery tool to recover any files on the drive.

1. Do not format the drive

Just make sure you do not format the drive by accident. Windows will ask to format any Mac-formatted drive you connect to it. So, you need to make sure you click "Cancel" from the pop-up dialogue. Disk Drill can undelete HFS files or extract them out of the box , canceling the formatting will give a higher chance to recover your files.

Windows will just display the format dialogue box for any partition it cannot read. It will not open Disk Drill automatically. Thus, you need to close the message and manually open
the HFS recovery tool.

  • Download Disk Drill

    Download Disk Drill

  • Install the app

    Install it

  • Launch Disk Drill for Windows

    Run Disk Drill for Windows

2. Ignore the Unrecognized File System warning

As soon as you cancel the formatting dialogue, Windows will give you a warning that it cannot read the drive. Do not be alarmed by this message. Windows is just reiterating what we already know. You need a special disk driver to read Mac drives and recover HFS files on Windows systems. Disk Drill has HFS, HFS+, and HFS-Plus drivers built into it. So, you can safely ignore the warning.

Ignore the Unrecognized File System warning

3. Open Disk Drill to begin the HFS disk recovery

One of the best freeware options, Disk Drill has everything you need to undelete HFS files on Windows. It has advanced data recovery features that will work with any HFS+ system. You just have to open the application and select one of the two user-friendly data recovery HFS options. By default, Disk Drill runs the unified “Recover” option to recover as many files as possible. You can also set it to use the “Universal partition search” in the expanded menu if you need more customized data restoration.

Disk Drill will scan your entire HFS, HFS+, or HFS-Plus drive to recover deleted files wherever they lay to give you a list of everything on it. You can then go through the list to undelete the HFS files you want. You can even use filters to remove unnecessary system files from the list if it gets too large for you.

Open Disk Drill to begin the HFS disk recovery

4. HFS Recovery of Deleted Files is now Complete

To undelete the HFS files, all you should do now is click "Recover". Disk Drill will then save the files you highlighted to a folder of your choice. After that, you are done. That is how quick and simple Disk Drill is.

Disk Drill will even try to piece back together corrupted or missing files. Disk Drill will do this without needing any external Mac OS drivers or tools, giving you a complete data recovery solution for your Windows system.

HFS Recovery of Deleted Files is now Complete
cleverfiles PROTECT

Restore HFS Partition with FileVault Encryption

Some HFS partitions come with FileVault encryption. FileVault is Apple's Mac OS file encryption tool and you can spot it by its 50GB sparse bundle bands. Disk Drill should be able to recover HFS partitions with or without FileVault. If it cannot read your drive, you would have to use the Mac version of the software and provide our app with your FileVault password to decrypt it first.

Restore HFS Partition with FileVault Encryption

Deep Scan When All Else Fails

If you failed the earlier warning, and formatted your HFS+ drive, all is not lost. You can still try to restore the partition and retrieve your files. You might just need something more robust to recreate it and hopefully the formatting did not zero out the disk’s surface. Fortunately, Disk Drill comes with Deep Scan. Deep Scan will find all your hard to reach files regardless of how you lost them. It literally reads your drive byte by byte to reconstruct both the file types and the partition database stored in its database. It may take longer to complete, but it is worth the wait when all other tools fail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How to recover HFS/HFS+ partition and data on Windows?

The Windows operating system can’t by itself read HFS/HFS+ partitions, so you need a third-party software application if you want to recover data from one. Disk Drill is a good choice because it’s easy to use and capable of delivering great results.

How to avoid data loss from HFS or HFS+ partition?

HFS or HFS+ partitions are not as resistant to data loss as APFS partitions used by default by new Macs. That’s why it’s a good idea to occasionally use the First Aid feature in Disk Utility to check for errors and repair them if necessary. Of course, you should always have backups of all important data stored on a different storage device or in the cloud.

Data Recovery for HFS Drives

Recover deleted partition on Mac OS X and use free protection options of Disk Drill to never lose any data again

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What other Disk Drill users had to say

Anonymous Anonymous
in short, was not expecting this to recover a video file i accidentally overwrote (without keeping a backup of using Win 10's auto backup and Acronis backup, fixed that and set backups for future reference) anyway.

Was able to recover files from a HDD (Hard disk drive). One file I accidentally overwrote 5x before realizing my mistake was a video file i was editing, wasn't aware the video editing software had goofed up and overwrote on the same file multiple times. But by using the trial software i lucked out and it was recovered. Normally this doesn't work fyi. So i just got lucky because its a hard drive i don't frequently access with plenty of space (i ceased all hard drive write operations once i realized my error). So this review is to let others know, it works. Try the trial out first before trying though!

Also only a Deep Scan worked, Recuva, I.O.Bit and recover my files software failed in its entirety to recover the files. The Deep Scan using this software took about 1 hour to do its thing and identify what was missing (it even reconstructed the file name correctly surprised on that one too).
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«Disk Drill is a practical and intuitive utility that can successfully assist you in regaining access to lost or damaged files from a variety of disk or file system types, making it quite worthy for considering, should you be in the market for such a tool.» by Marina Dan
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