Ping Fm Logo
Roman Kropachek Photo
Written by:

Last update on

How to Recover Deleted Files from Wiped Hard Drive

How to Recover Deleted Files from Wiped Hard Drive

Losing important files can be a monumental stress-inducer, but it’s not always the end of the story. Even if you’ve wiped your hard drive clean, there’s still hope to recover those precious files. I’ve personally faced this daunting predicament and found ways to bring back data I thought was lost forever. In this detailed how-to guide, I’ll share my experience on how to recover deleted files from a wiped hard drive, highlighting Disk Drill as one of the most effective solutions.


Common Scenarios:

The Accidental Format 💥

  • Entire drive formatted during OS installation instead of selecting a particular partition.
  • Accidental quick format when trying to fix drive errors.

The Overzealous Cleanup 🧪

  • Using disk cleaning software to free up space without realizing important files weren’t backed up.
  • Deleting partitions during a system cleanup or while preparing to sell the PC.

Malware Mayhem ☠

  • Virus or malware infection leading to a compromised system that requires a full wipe.
  • Hackers wiping drives to cover their tracks after data theft.

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

Method 1: Using Disk Drill 🔧

  • Download and install Disk Drill from the official website:
  • Run Disk Drill and select the wiped hard drive for recovery.
  • Choose the appropriate scan type. For wiped drives, Deep Scan is often most effective.
  • Review the found files and select those you wish to recover.
  • Choose a new save location that’s different from the source drive and recover the files.

Note: Disk Drill can recover files even after a format, but the success rate depends on whether new data has overwritten the old data.

Conclusion: Disk Drill provides an intuitive and powerful platform for recovering data from a wiped hard drive.

Method 2: Recuva 🔍

  • Download and install Recuva from the official site:
  • Open Recuva and run the Wizard to start the recovery process.
  • Select the type of files you’re looking to recover and the original location.
  • Enable Deep Scan mode for a more thorough search.
  • After scanning, select the files for recovery and choose a new destination to save them.

Note: Recuva is a helpful tool, especially for those looking for a free solution, but it might not be as thorough as premium software like Disk Drill.

Conclusion: Recuva is a cost-effective alternative that can manage simple recovery tasks effectively.

Method 3: PhotoRec 📷

  • Download PhotoRec from the official website:
  • Extract and run PhotoRec; you’ll be greeted with a command-line interface.
  • Select the wiped drive and choose the partition table type, then proceed with scanning.
  • Navigate the file system and select where to save the recovered data.
  • Let PhotoRec do its magic, recovering as many files as possible.

Note: PhotoRec is powerful but comes with a steeper learning curve due to its command-line nature.

Conclusion: PhotoRec is a robust, open-source solution for those comfortable with command line operations.

Method 4: Using Windows File Recovery 🖥

  • Make sure you’re running Windows 10, version 2004 or later. Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store.
  • Open Command Prompt as an administrator and type ‘winfr’.
  • Choose the source and destination drives and specify the mode: regular or extensive.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the recovery process.
  • Check the destination folder for your retrieved files.

Note: This method is only available on newer versions of Windows, and success varies with how much new data has been written to the drive.

Conclusion: Windows File Recovery is a useful, no-cost option for users with the right version of Windows.

Method 5: Hire a Professional Data Recovery Service 🔎

  • Search for reputable data recovery services like DriveSavers or Secure Data Recovery.
  • Contact the service and provide details about your hard drive and the data loss situation.
  • Follow their instructions to send in your hard drive.
  • Wait for the diagnostic report and decide whether to proceed with the recovery based on their success estimate and cost.
  • Once recovered, the service will return your data on a new storage device.

Note: Professional services can be expensive but offer the highest chance of recovery for severely damaged drives.

Conclusion: For invaluable or highly sensitive data, a professional data recovery service may be worth the extra cost.


Youtube video to watch


Precautions and Tips:

Data Loss Prevention 🛡

  • Regular backups to an external drive or cloud service can prevent the need for data recovery.
  • Use disk management tools cautiously and always double-check before formatting or cleaning a drive.
  • Stay vigilant against malware by updating your antivirus software and avoiding suspicious downloads or websites.

Recovery Right Away ⏳

  • The sooner you attempt to recover data after deletion, the better the chances of success.
  • Avoid using the affected hard drive to prevent new data from overwriting the lost files.
  • Try multiple data recovery tools if one doesn’t yield the desired results.

Extended Insights

Data recovery technology hinges on the fact that when files are deleted, they’re not immediately removed from the storage medium. Instead, the space they occupy is marked as ‘free’ for new data. Until new data overwrites the old, there’s a window of opportunity for recovery. This is why it is crucial not to use the hard drive after the loss occurred; every action on the drive could potentially overwrite the very data you’re trying to save.

File system type also plays a pivotal role in data recovery. File systems like FAT, exFAT, or NTFS manage data differently, which can influence recovery outcomes. Understanding this can guide you in selecting the right tool and recovery method.

When it comes to drives that have been formatted, the Quick Format option merely deletes the file table, but a Full Format (available on Windows) can overwrite all data, making recovery much more difficult. It’s crucial to know the difference and act accordingly when trying to restore files.

When using tools like Disk Drill or Recuva, remember that they often offer different scanning modes. A Quick Scan may suffice for recently deleted files but for a wiped drive, employing Deep Scan or similar comprehensive modes is preferable.

For users uncomfortable with utilizing software-based recovery tools, consulting a professional service might be more appropriate. These services utilize specialized equipment and controlled environments to maximize data recovery chances. Companies like DriveSavers and Secure Data Recovery are known for their expertise and security measures in handling sensitive data.


Experiencing data loss from a wiped hard drive is a taxing ordeal, but with the right tools and methods, it’s possible to recover those lost bytes. From powerful software options like Disk Drill and Recuva to more advanced solutions like hiring professional data recovery services, there’s often a way to get your files back. Remember, the quicker you act and the less you use the drive post-deletion, the better your chances of a successful recovery. Always maintain regular backups, stay cautious during drive management, and stay updated to mitigate future data losses. With these practices and resources, you’re well-equipped to face any data recovery challenge.


Yes, in many cases, it is possible to restore data from a wiped hard drive using specialized recovery tools, provided new data hasn’t overwritten it.

Immediately stop using the hard drive to prevent new data from overwriting files that could be recovered.

Absolutely, professional services specialize in retrieving lost data, even from drives that have been wiped. Visit DriveSavers for more information.

Success largely depends on the formatting method and whether new data has been saved to the drive post-format.

Yes, there are free tools like Recuva that can potentially recover files from a wiped hard drive in some instances.

No, a quick format generally does not completely erase all data; recovery is often feasible with the right software or service.

Its reliability varies, but quality data recovery software can often retrieve many lost files effectively.

Success rates are influenced by factors like the extent of drive usage post-wipe, wipe method, and physical condition of the hard drive.

Yes, most recovery tools allow you to target and restore specific file types.

It depends on your comfort level with technology. If the data is critical or if you're unsure, it's advisable to contact professional recovery services like Ontrack.