There’s nothing quite like the feeling of realising you just accidentally deleted your entire database or personal data.
However, losing data doesn’t have to be the end of the world! You may be asking yourself, “how can I recover my lost data? Is it gone forever?” The answer is usually, “no.”
Stay hopeful that your files aren’t lost to the void! Follow these steps to get your lost data back—no matter what device you were using.
First Things First: Stay Calm
The most important thing in the event of data loss is to stay calm! Panicking or rushing to restore lost or deleted files could result in more damage or making it more difficult to recover the data. Hardware can be accidentally damaged further or software errors can worsen.
The last thing you want is to make things worse. So don’t panic and stay the course!
Disclaimer: In the case of lost data, the best thing you can do is contact a professional. We don’t recommend trying to recover data yourself, but we realize a lot of our readers will attempt to do so anyway. We want to equip you with the knowledge you need to do it correctly. Proceed with caution. You could potentially worsen your situation.
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Check Your Backups
If you haven’t already, you should always back up your files! In the case of accidental deletion, your files can still be recovered. If this is the case and you’ve also emptied your recycling bin, here’s how you can recover your files.
Windows 10 comes with File History which you can use to back up your important data and files. To restore files with File History:
Open up File History on your computer.
Select the file you’re looking for and find the version of the file you want.
Select “Restore” to put the file back where it was originally stored.
If you want to move your file somewhere else, right-click “Restore” and select “Restore to” before choosing a new location for your file.
Mac iOS X introduced Time Machine as a way for users to backup and store files. To backup your files, you’ll need an external storage device.
To restore your Mac from a backup, you’ll need to connect your Time Machine backup disk. Once you’ve turned on the disk and your Mac, you’ll need to:
Open up the Migration Assistant
Select how you want to transfer your files.
Choose “Mac, Time Machine backup or startup disk” and click “Continue”.
Select your Time Machine backup.
Select the information you want to transfer from the backup disk.
Once the file transfer is complete, restart your Mac.
If you have a lot of files, this transfer could take a long time–up to several hours. Once it’s complete and you’ve restarted your Mac, you can log in to the migrated account to view your files.
Third-Party Apps and Tools
Beyond what comes standard on your Mac or PC, third-party tools like Google Driveand Dropbox can store your files and data on the cloud. Some of these tools will automatically sync and copy your files, or you can manually sync them.
With tools like Dropbox, you can get up to 5,000 gigabytes of space to store your files at your business. In the case of power failure or damaged hardware, you can still access your files from the cloud through your third-party backup.
Try Data Recovery Tools
If you can’t get your files back from your local backup or from the cloud, you’ll need to use data recovery software. These pieces of software can help recover and restore files, especially if you accidentally deleted them.
This isn’t just limited to computers, iPhone and Android data recovery software is now widely available. Though we certainly hope this doesn’t happen to you, in the unfortunate case where your phone decides to dive from your pocket into the toilet—have no fear! There are still options left for you.
Mac and Windows PC
Data Rescue is one piece of data recovery software that works for both Macs andPCs. Data Rescue can also recover data from internal and external hard drives, USBs and SD cards, making it a great choice if you find yourself often switching between Macs and PCs at your office. Data Rescue licenses cost $99 for a one-time purchase.
Recuva by CCleaner is a free option for data recovery. Recuva boasts advanced file recovery features, along with a “deep scan” mode that will find files that were otherwise buried and hidden away. One handy thing to note about Recuva is that it also has a feature to help you secure delete files. The only way to truly delete a file is to completely overwrite it, so this unique feature will completely erase any files you absolutely don’t want!
For iPhones, you can download tools like Stellar to recover photos, videos, contacts and other data you otherwise lost. Stellar is free to download and try, and you can also recover attachments from other apps like WhatsApp or Line.
Beyond those files, Stellar can also recover data from iTunes and iCloud backup files. It’s also available for Macs!
Unfortunately, Android devices present a challenge for data recovery. If your data and files weren’t rooted, it’s a lot more difficult to recover them.
There are ways to root your files, but if you just want photos back, DiskDigger can help! This handy app is available on Google Play and will perform a scan through your cache and thumbnails to find your photos. Once your files are recovered, you can send them to Drive, Dropbox or email them to yourself.
If you have rooted files for your Android device, tools like EaseUS MobiSaver can recover deleted images, videos, contacts and WhatsApp messages. While you may have to pay for your files using this tool, you can still recover them.
If All Else Fails: Call a Data Recovery Specialist
If you still can’t get your data back, your next best step is to call in a professional. Seasoned data recovery specialists will have the tools and resources necessary to repair physically damaged hardware and software suffering from logical damage.
Data recovery can involve hard disk or drive repair, which can require using a cleanroom facility to minimize all risks of further damage. Before giving up or trying to repair the damage yourself, you should consult with a data recovery specialist.
Even when your hard drive is physically repaired, there may still be a lot of work to do to access the files and repair them. Depending on the situation, this could take some time, so it’s in your best interest to let a professional recover your data.