The Kickoff Guide to Mac Data Recovery

Disk recovery is something every Mac user hopes to evade. At the same time, even if the problem does not originate from OS X issues, it may be caused by mechanical troubles. Say, laptop users are exposed to the danger of splitting fluid on their MacBook Pro or MacBook Air way more than those who work with iMac or Mac mini. Though, even in this case, a good data recovery software can save the day. However, it's not that easy to find the best data recovery tool for Apple devices in contrast to Windows. Otherwise, you may face a rather time-consuming, costly procedure known as the disk recovery.

If you have a strong desire to prevent your Apple device from the catastrophe, there are several rules to follow. For instance, it is recommended to implement a solid, scheduled backup solution. In simple words, save important files elsewhere except for the single Mac. You can choose a cloud data storage service, flash drive, or external hard drive. Second, follow some trivial safety measures and best practices to support excellent computer ‘hygiene.’

No matter how hard you try, there is no guarantee you won’t face a hard drive failure. There are several levels of disk failure, and only some tools can cope with them on Mac.

  • The most typical cause is the deleted or “lost” files.
  • The second level happens because of the OS-level system file corruption/malware infection. Even though the HD remains physically operable, the file structures or tables are replaced or eliminated.
  • The third, final level is the worst and most costly. It is the hardware failure. If you hear any clicking/grinding noises, it might mean the loss of power to the drive. This level of failure usually requires a professional recovery in the forensic lab.
Mac Data Recovery Guide

Remember that a corrupt or failed drive does not necessarily mean hundreds or thousands of lost files and the end of the world. As for the first two cases, you may fix them without contacting the experts. Three magic worlds will help you to do so: data recovery software. In contrast to Windows users who possess some data recovery instruments available for the PCs running the operating system, Mac users often find it more challenging to save the day.

How Mac Hard Drive Recovery Tools Work

So, how to understand whether it is possible to revive the lost files on your HD? There are four types of disk ”logical damage” – a situation in which the error is not a hardware issue and needs software-level solutions:

Corrupt partitions and file systems, media errors;

Overwritten data;

Lost, deleted, and formatted data;

Logical bad sector.

Instead of panicking in any of these situations, keep in mind that once a user erases a file, it does not actually disappear from your computer. It simply becomes invisible to the user. When other data is written to the hard disk, it covers the original position that the removed file invades. It is the only case when you can’t get back the eliminated file.

The main principle of data recovery is observing and analyzing the file header in the disk to discover the files that have been marked and attempt to rewrite the two codes after that. In most cases, such process is carried out by special software.

Using Mac Onboard Utilities to Revive Your Hard Drive

A Time Machine backup is one of the methods to revive the hard drive on Mac. This onboard Mac utility requires several steps to recover the lost file.

The main principle of data recovery is observing and analyzing the file header in the disk to discover the files that have been marked and attempt to rewrite the two codes after that. In most cases, such process is carried out by special software.

  • 1. Click on the corresponding icon in the menu bar and pick Enter Time Machine to launch Time Machine.
  • 2. Discover the particular files you would like to get back with the help of tie onscreen up & down arrows.
  • 3. Once the user finds the file he was looking for, he should press the Space Bar to preview it and make sure it’s the one he needs.
  • 4. Find the Cloud icon and click on it. It will allow downloading a snapshot to view it. The snapshot will be accessible even if the external drive is disconnected from the Apple device.
  • 5. Now, choose Restore to revive the selected file, or cut-and-paste the particular content you are searching for in case you do not wish to remove the new version with the old version of the item.

You may also ask how to restore from a Time Machine backup with the help of macOS recovery. Here's the instruction:

Boot your Apple computer and hold down Command-R keys.

Go on holding those keys until the Apple logo pops up.

Once you notice the Utilities window, pick Restore from Time Machine backup

Here you go! You can now access all of the lost files thanks to this useful utility.

Another way to deal with hard drive woe is to use Disk Utility. To repair the disk, do the following:

useful mac utility
  • 1. Click Share -> Print in the Disk Utility Help window
  • 2. Pick Restart in Apple menu. Press and hold the Command and R keys immediately until you see the Apple logo.
  • 3. Go to Disk Utility, then select Continue.
  • 4. In the sidebar, pick the disk to repair.
  • 5. Choose the First Aid button.
  • 6. Click Run.

One more cause of the data loss is the reinstallation of your OS. However, it is not a reason for panic either: while the File Allocation Table is deleted, the user’s files stay on the drive. There is just no more pointers, which tell your Mac where these files are located.

It is possible to restore the data from the wiped/erased hard drive with the help of data recovery software for Mac. Its developers have users at their mercy by allowing to revive the deleted data, but such software’s prices often bite.

Revive Mac External Hard Drive with the Help of Third-Party Apps

The media storage devices are under the same risks as the native Mac’s HD. In case you possess a backup copy of the eliminated files, it does not matter whether they were erased from your external hard drive. In other situations, it is better to rely on one of the recommended data recovery software.

The top data recovery tools from Apple developers usually offer two basic functions: Recovery Vault & Guaranteed Recovery. The first one is an additional layer to the trash bin, which saves a reference to the removed data. The second feature is a background service that aims to store a copy of every file moved to a user-specific folder. These functions minimize the chances of losing important information.

Once you purchase a third-party app, launch it and stick to the steps described below.

Choose a file type. You can either select “All File Types” or just one of your interest (e.g., audio).

Scan lost information from the external drive. Pick a location to start searching for data. The user can choose the drive letter for Mac’s external hard drive and press “Start” to examine it

Preview and scan the discovered contents in the window after the scan. After that, pick the files you need and select “Recover” to store them on your Mac.

Mind that:

In case of any warning like “preview failed” appears, you should understand that the file was seriously damaged and will not be restored.

Some apps do not support specific types of files, so the user has to wait for the final recovery to see whether the target document was revived.

Data recovery is not a treatment, which guarantees 100% cure of any computer ‘disease.’ That is why it is better to take care of your Apple device from the very beginning.

Summing up What You've Discovered about Disk Recovery on Mac

Yes, it is possible to revive the data from the erased/wiped/broken HD or external hard drive. But if you try restoring your HD or external hard drive on your own, the risk of failure is quite high. Formatting Mac hard drive is not a piece of cake for the ordinary users to obtain the lost data back. Unless you turn to the experts, you may try various methods just to end up with nothing.

On the other hand, for the first two levels of failures, it might be enough to apply the onboard Mac utilities such as Time Machine and Disk Utility+Disk Repair. If it does not help, a wide range of third-party tools will be the only smart solution.