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How to Recover Deleted Files from Wiped Hard Drive

How to Recover Deleted Files from Wiped Hard Drive

We’ve all been there – that heart-stopping moment when you realize that essential files are missing from your hard drive, which you’ve accidentally wiped clean. But don’t lose hope yet! Recovering files from a wiped hard drive is not always a lost cause. In this detailed guide, I’ll share from personal experience the steps and methods to potentially retrieve your precious data.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Format 🛠

  • You’ve accidentally formatted the wrong drive during a routine clean-up or while setting up a new operating system.

Disk Wipe Software Misfire 🔥

  • While using disk wipe software, you inadvertently selected a drive with important files and initiated a wipe.

Partition-related Confusion 🧩

  • New partitions were created that led to the deletion of existing ones, taking the stored data along with them.

Step-by-Step Guide. Recover Wiped Hard Drive:

Method 1: Data Recovery Software 🖥

  • Download and install a reputable data recovery software like Recuva or Stellar Data Recovery.
  • Connect the wiped drive as an external disk to another computer if possible, to avoid further data overwriting.
  • Run the software and select the drive for scanning. Choose a deep scan option for better results.
  • Review the recoverable files, select the ones you need, and recover them to a different drive or partition.

Note: Avoid writing any new data to the wiped drive as it might overwrite the recoverable files.

Conclusion: Data recovery software works by scanning the drive for remnants of deleted files and can be a powerful tool if used correctly.

Method 2: File History (Windows) 📅

  • Navigate to the ‘Control Panel’ and look for ‘File History’.
  • Connect any external drive that may have been set up for backups.
  • If previous versions of files are found, restore the needed files.
  • Check both ‘Recent backups’ and ‘Restore personal files’ options for lost data.

Note: This method requires that you had previously set up file history or backups.

Conclusion: The File History feature in Windows can be a savior if prepared ahead of the disaster.

Method 3: Previous Versions (Windows) 🔙

  • Right-click on the folder that contained the deleted files and select ‘Properties’.
  • Go to the ‘Previous Versions’ tab to check for available file history.
  • Select a version from a date prior to the wipe and restore files.
  • Keep in mind that system protection must have been enabled in advance for this feature to work.

Note: This method relies on the system protection feature, which creates restore points to revert to previous states.

Conclusion: Leveraging ‘Previous Versions’ is a quick and often overlooked option to roll back to checkpoints before the wipe occurred.

Method 4: Data Recovery Services 🛠

  • Research and select a reputable data recovery service specialized in hard drive recovery.
  • Back up any existing data on the drive, to avoid loss during shipping or handling.
  • Package the drive securely and send it to the service provider.

Note: These services can be costly and should be considered when other methods fail or for high-value data recovery.

Conclusion: Professional data recovery services can often succeed where software options fail, especially with physically damaged drives.

Method 5: Bootable Data Recovery Tools ⚙

  • Create a bootable drive with a tool like Hiren’s BootCD or Ultimate Boot CD.
  • Use the recovery software included in the bootable environment to scan your wiped drive.
  • Recover the files found to a secure location, preferably an external drive.

Note: This method is useful when the system OS is not bootable, allowing you to bypass it and access the drive directly.

Conclusion: Bootable recovery tools are versatile and reduce the risk of overwriting deleted data by not needing an OS installation.


Youtube video to watch


Precautions and Tips:

Safe Data Practices ⚠

  • Always maintain regular backups to external drives or cloud services.
  • Be cautious and double-check before formatting or partitioning drives.
  • Immediately stop using the drive if you suspect data loss to prevent overwriting.

Understanding Data Recovery 🧬

  • Grasp the concept that when data is deleted, it’s often not immediately wiped; the space is simply marked as available for new data.
  • Know that overwriting is the biggest threat to recoverable data; refrain from making new writes to the affected drive.
  • Familiarize yourself with how different file systems like NTFS and FAT32 handle deleted data for a targeted recovery approach.

Extended Data Care

Whether you’re an individual with cherished personal memories or a business with crucial data, understanding the nuances of file recovery can be a game-changer. Taking the right steps directly after a data loss event is critical. Delving deeper into the file systems, we understand that they do not immediately destroy file contents; instead, they merely remove the pointers that make files accessible. This process leaves a window of opportunity for recovery, provided new data hasn’t overwritten the old.

Regarding file systems, it’s worth mentioning that recovery chances can vary. For instance, the NTFS file system is known for better handling of data recovery than older systems like FAT32, due to its journaling feature that tracks changes to files. On the topic of backups, one might consider Windows Backup and iCloud for Apple products, both being robust solutions for averting future heartaches due to data loss.

It’s also wise to familiarize yourself with various data recovery software, as each comes with its strengths. Some are adept at recovering specific file types, such as photos or documents, while others might offer better support for different storage devices like SSDs or RAID configurations.

To keep data secure, consider encryption as a preventative measure against unauthorized access, while also maintaining good password hygiene and staying vigilant of potential malware infections that could compromise data integrity.


Recovering deleted files from a wiped hard drive can range from a straightforward task with the right preparation and tools, to a complex process that might require professional assistance. However, as I have shared through my personal experience, it is possible to retrieve lost data. The key is to act promptly and judiciously. Utilize data recovery software, leverage built-in operating system features, or, if necessary, turn to professional recovery services. And always remember, the best recovery strategy is to have a robust backup system in place to prevent future loss. May your data recovery efforts be successful!


Yes, in many cases, it is possible to recover data from a wiped hard drive using specialized recovery software or services, as long as the data hasn't been overwritten.

Stop using the drive immediately to avoid overwriting data and turn off the computer. Then consult a professional data recovery service or use reputable recovery software.

Some data recovery software can recover files from a formatted drive, especially if it was a quick format. However, success rates may vary.

Common causes include accidental deletion, formatting, virus attacks, software crashes, and hardware failures that result in a hard drive being wiped.

The cost can be significant, depending on the extent of the damage and the required recovery methods, but it may be worthwhile for critical data.

Free data recovery software exists, but it may not be as effective as paid versions. You should research and select one judiciously.

It varies greatly depending on the size of the drive and the extent of the damage but could range from a few hours to several days.

Most hard drive recovery software supports Windows and MacOS, with some also offering support for Linux-based systems.

Using software incorrectly might cause more damage. It's essential to follow instructions carefully or consult with a professional.

Popular, trusted service providers like DriveSavers and Ontrack are specialized in recovering data from wiped hard drives.