File recovery can be a fear-provoking thought. If you're missing an important file, you may worry that you'll never recover it and it's gone for good. Fortunately, you have plenty of options to recover data from a hard drive.
The good news about file recovery.
The good news about file recovery is that data really doesn't ever actually go away, unless you wipe the entire hard drive with a magnet or some other device that completely destroys the drive itself. When you delete data, your computer merely overwrites it with other data. The original data is still there. If you lose a file, don't panic; there's a good chance you can still recover data from your hard drive even after a serious accident.
Don't write new data to your hard drive if you're trying to recover data.
First and foremost, if you're trying to recover data from the hard drive, don't write any new data to your hard drive. Once you've deleted a file, your computer can write other data in the space your file used to occupy. While this doesn't actually obliterate the original file, it makes it much more difficult to restore and may remove it effectively from home restoration attempts.
Install your hard drive as a secondary drive to prevent accidentally overwriting it.
You don't want to write new data to your hard drive if you're trying to find data. That's such an imperative that you may want to install your hard drive as a secondary drive to prevent writing any new data to it. Even in the course of normal computer operation, you're likely to write new data to your hard drive at any moment, so installing your hard drive as a secondary drive protects it from accidental writing during everyday operation.
Don't set your Recycle Bin to empty automatically.
The easiest way to recover data is to find it before it's really gone. If you set your Recycle Bin to empty automatically, your files may be gone before you ever realize you're missing them. However, if you set your Recycle Bin to empty manually, you can scan the contents of your Recycle Bin regularly before deleting them. Make this part of a regular maintenance program.
Consider file recovery software, and evaluate it based on your needs.
File recovery software can be a valuable tool if you're trying to restore lost data. However, different types of file recovery software work in different ways. Some software may be better at recovering specific file types, while other software may simply be out of your price range. Consider all of your needs when you're evaluating file recovery software, as it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Test potentially dead hard drives on other disc controllers and in other computers.
It's much more difficult to recover data from dead hard drives, so it's in your best interest to test potentially dead hard drives to determine whether or not they're really dead. Try installing the hard drive on a different disc controller, or as a secondary drive in another computer altogether. If a hard drive still doesn't work after you've swapped it around a bit, you may be looking at mechanical failure, which requires professional intervention.