Damaged Hard Drive Data Recovery

The hard drive on which you have stored all your videos, photos and work documents no longer works well? Are you unable to copy and / or view many of the files inside it anymore? Don't fall into despair right away… maybe there's still something you can do.

If you want to know more, take a few minutes of free time and find out how to do the damaged hard drive data recovery thanks to some applications available for free on the Net. I assure you that they are very simple to use and that, within the limits of the possible, they perform their task very well.

With a bit of luck, you will surely be able to recover your files, or part of them, and keep the damage to a minimum. Obviously, however, don't expect miracles: if your disk is badly damaged there is very little that common software can do. For the most desperate cases it is necessary to contact the professionals of the sector and rely on their equipment. But now don't think about it, don't bandage your head before breaking it and try to fix the situation with your own strength. I'm sure you will get great results, good luck!

Preliminary Operation

The first tool you need to do the damaged hard drive data recovery is DataRescue DD, a free application for Windows and macOS that allows you to create images of damaged drives, that is, a single file that contains all the data on the source disk. This greatly facilitates data recovery operations as it prevents new writes from being made to the damaged disk (an operation that could aggravate the situation) and avoids the "hitches" that can arise when working with a hard disk that is no longer 100% functional. .

To download DataRescue DD on your PC, connect to its official website and click on the link Windows version which is at the bottom of the page to download it to your PC. When the download is complete, double click on it to open the archive you just downloaded (drdd.exe.zip) and start the program drdd.exe contained in it. I advise you to copy the software on an external drive (eg a USB key) and start it from the latter to make the whole job easier, avoiding possible hitches.

In the window that opens, select the damaged disk drive from the drop-down menu source. If you don't see the drive C: it is because it is the system unit and to use it with DataRescue DD it should be connected as a “slave” (more info on Wikipedia). Then click on the button KATEGORIEN, select the folder in which to create the hard disk image file and start the data copy procedure using the button play located at the bottom of the screen.

You can also limit the creation of the image file to specific disk areas by setting in the fields Start, Size ed End the number of sectors (Sectors) you hate MB from which you must start and stop in the recovery operations. This is very useful when there are bad blocks on the drive. Also take voice into account Last log (located at the bottom left), through which you can view reports on the creation of image files. In case the copying of files gets stuck, it will tell you which are the bad sectors of the disk to bypass using the function Start-End referred to above.

If you are using a Mac, to download the program you have to click on the button OS X version placed at the bottom right of its official website. To install it you have to open the dmg package that contains the application and drag the icon of DataRescue DD in the folder Applications Mac. That's all, for the rest the procedures to follow are identical to those seen for Windows.

PhotoRec (Windows / Mac / Linux)

Once the creation of the image file is complete, you need to get software for the damaged hard drive data recovery and feed him the .dd image generated with DataRescue DD. If you don't know which application to rely on, try PhotoRec which is completely free, open source and allows you to restore any type of file quite easily.

PhotoRec is multi-platform, which means it works not only on Windows but also on macOS and Linux, but only the Windows version comes with a standard graphical interface, on macOS it should be used from the command line (that's why which later I will suggest another app for Mac, easier to use, which you can use as an alternative). Another important thing to point out is that the software is supplied in conjunction with TestDisk, another free program that allows you to recover lost partitions and restore disks that are no longer booting.

You don't need TestDisk at the moment, so I'd say put it aside and focus our attention on PhotoRec. To download PhotoRec (and TestDisk) on your computer, connect to the official website of the program and click on the item Windows. When the download is complete, open thezip archive which contains the two applications, extract the contents to a folder of your choice and start the application qphotorec_win.exe.

In the window that opens, select the option Add a raw disk image from the drop-down menu at the top and select the dd image previously obtained with DataRescue DD. If you haven't created a damaged disk image file, you can also connect the drive directly to your computer and act on it, but be aware that doing so will reduce the chance of successful data recovery and increase the risk of crashes during backup recovery.

At this point, select the voice Unknown (the one that has the words Whole Disk) from the main PhotoRec screen, make sure there is a check mark next to the item Whole and the file system used on the disk (ex. FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiserFS) and click on your button KATEGORIEN to select the folder to save all the recovered data.

After this step, click on the button Search to start the search for recoverable files and wait patiently for the operation to be completed, it may take a long time. If you do not want to recover all types of files but only some specific types (eg only photos or documents), click on the button File formats and leave the check mark only next to the items related to the files you want to recover.

At the end of the recovery operations you will find all the data recovered by PhotoRec in the folder you indicated by clicking on the Browse button of the program.

Disk Drill (Mac/Windows)

Disk Drill is another data recovery application that I recommend you try. It is available for both Windows and macOS, but it is on the Apple operating system that it gives its best. It is paid (costs 79 euros) but is available in a free trial version that allows you to test its effectiveness, then find out which files can be recovered and preview them in the Mac Preview application.

To download the trial version of Disk Drill, connect to the application's website and click on the button Scarica the free version. Then open the package dmg you got, move the icon of Disk Drill in the folder Applications macOS and start the software by double clicking on its icon. If an error message appears, right click on the Disk Drill icon and select the item apri from the menu that opens.

At this point, remove the check mark from all the items displayed on the Disk Drill home screen, click on the button Continue, type the password of your user account on macOS and press Submit to access the main program menu.

Finally here we are! To start a scan of your disk image with DiskDrill, click on the button Attach img located at the top right, select the file dd previously obtained with DataRescue DD and wait a few seconds for the image to appear in the list of available disks. If you have not created an image of the damaged disk you can also operate directly on it, but as explained above this reduces the chances of successfully recovering the data.

At this point, press the button Recover placed next to the name of your image file (or damaged disk) and wait patiently for the scan to finish.

At the end of the operation, the files recovered by Disk Drill will be divided into folders based on their type (eg. ImagesVideoDocuments) and you can view a preview by simply clicking on the icon of theeye placed next to their names. To recover the data, purchase a license for the full version of Disk Drill, select the files of your interest and click on the button Recover which is located at the top right.

Please note: if the solutions listed in this tutorial didn't help you, unfortunately the only solution you have left is to contact a specialized center for recovering data from damaged discs. There are several throughout Italy, such as Recovery Italia in Rome, SOS Data Recovery in Naples and Data Recovery Service in Milan, even if their services are not exactly for all budgets.