Here is the scenario: you plug in the drive with your critical essay that your professor wants tomorrow when suddenly a wild message appears! You ferociously click Cancel and try to open your drive to access your all-important data but to no avail. Windows will just not let you into the drive.
Perhaps you accidentally deleted a crucial file from your computer, emptied the Recycle Bin and only reilised when you went to look for it that you cannot find it?
Well fear not, my friend as /r/TechSupport is here to help. If a message like this appears it is almost 100% likely that you will be able to recover all the data that you have on the disk as it means that Windows can't read the partition properly - and Windows is pretty damn picky about how it reads partitions! There are many free programs that you can use to recover your data that will take not but 5 minutes to work; leaving you to relax as that crisis was averted.
Recovering An Accidentally Deleted FileEdit
Recovering from an accidentally deleted file, like that described in scenario 2 above, is a relatively simple process but is time-critical. When you 'delete' a file from the Recycle Bin in Windows (or in many other operating systems), it does not delete the file from the disk, it just marks the space where the file was as free space that the OS can write over. This means, that if you are fast enough, you can save the file.
As I say, the process is time limited, so the OS will have overwritten files that were marked years ago. But, depending on the amount of free space is on the drive (also fragmentation), you may be able to recover files that were deleted up to 2 weeks prior.
How To Recover Accidentally Deleted Files With RecuvaEdit
To start, download Recuva here and install. When you start the application, you will be presented with a screen welcoming you to the application and prompting you to click next to follow the wizard. Simply follow these steps and eventually it will start to scan your computer for all the deleted files it can find.
You will then be presented with a list of files it has found with a colour next to them. Green files can be fully recovered, yellow files can be partially recovered. And red files- well, red files are gone, man.
Recovering Files From A Formatted PartitionEdit
Recovering from a formatted partition is much the same as recovering an accidentally deleted file. When you format any drive, you do not actually 'delete' any files, it is just like ripping the contents page out of a huge book. All the files are there, the computer just has no idea where any of them are - and thus cant display them.
How To Recover Files From A Format With Recuva Edit
To recover these, download Recuva here and install. When you start the application, you will be presented with a screen welcoming you to the application and prompting you to click next to follow the wizard. Click Cancel on this wizard as by default, Recuva does not search for non-deleted files (which is what formating a drive produces).
Click the button labeled 'Options' and then the tab 'Actions'. In here you will see a checkbox captioned 'Scan For Non-Deleted Files (for recovery from damaged or reformatted disks)'. Check this, Click OK, select the disk in question from the dropdown box on the left and click 'Scan'.
You will then be presented with a list of files it has found with a colour next to them. Greens can be fully recovered, yellows can be partially recovered. And reds, well reds are gone, man.
Recovering Files From A Damaged/Lost Drive/PartitionEdit
You know that your drive partition is damaged if, when you plug it in, a message pops up like the one above. These are pretty annoying as the actual partition itself needs to be recovered. Not individual bits in the partition.
MiniTool themselves do a very nice tutorial on how to use their software here. Follow these steps and you should be in pretty damn good shape.
A damaged partition may be a sign that your drive is failing, so be sure to move data off that drive just in case.
Recovering Data From A Physically Damaged DriveEdit
Well, my friend, you seem to be shit out of luck here if you have no backups. There is one thing that I have heard works but have never tried it myself.
If you stick the damaged drive in the freezer for a few hours, apparently that might jolt it into action.
Aside from that, your best bet is to give it to the professionals. Google 'data recovery' followed by your city and you should have someone near you.
Anyway, that is the end of my data recovery tutoral. If you can add anything to this, please do. If you have any questions conttact me on Reddit at reddit.com/user/megalan247.
Also spell check. I am terrible at spelling and I can really be bothered to read over this entire post.
Recovering Data from Non-Bootable ComputerEdit
There are two options if you need to obtain files from a non-bootable hard drive before doing a reinstall and losing all of your files.
Hard Drive Docking StationEdit
Option one is using a hard drive docking station. This option is a bit risker for the user, a user will need to dismantle the computer to gain access to the hard drive and could cause damge to their computer from static electricty. This is known as electrostatic discharge, or ESD . This can be avoided by using an anti-static wrist strap . Once the hard drive is removed, plug the docking station into another computer and insert the bad hard drive into the docking station. The hard drive should appear as an external hard drive under My Computer.
USB Bootable Linux Edit
Option two is createing a bootable Linux system. This would be the easiet solution. Ubuntu has a walk-thru on how to create a bootable linux operating system. This allows the computer to boot into a Linux system from a USB and will allow you to view the files on the bad hard drive.