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How to recover lost files on your PC

In this article, we offer to take a look at the features of the new data recovery utility, Disk Drill for Windows. We will try to find out how it will manage to recover deleted files from a USB drive (the same result will be for a regular hard drive on your PC).

New Disk Drill for Windows, Mac OS X users have long been familiar with this tool. In our opinion, this utility can be safely placed on a list of top-class data recovery software.

Unfortunately, if the first time after the release, Disk Drill for Windows was free, now it’s not – you can scan and see what you have found for recovery at no charge, however, in order to recover the found files, you will have to buy the licensed software.

Using Disk Drill to Restore Data on Windows

To verify data recovery using Disk Drill for Windows, we have prepared a USB drive with photos on it, after which, the files from the photos were deleted, and the drive was formatted with a change in the file system (FAT32 to NTFS).

After starting the utility, you will see a list of connected drives – all your hard drives, flash drives, and memory cards. Next to them, there’s a large “Recover” button. If you click on the arrow icon next to the button, you will see the following options:

  • Run all recovery methods (used by default, if you just click Recover);
  • Quick scan;
  • Deep Scan.

What’re the best free ways to recover deleted files on Windows 10? By clicking on the arrow near “Extras” (optional), you can create a DMG image of the drive and perform further data recovery actions with it. This is to prevent more damage to files on the physical drive (in fact, this function is pretty rare in free software).

Another point – Protect allows you to protect data from deletion from the drive and simplify its further recovery (I have not experimented with this point).

Already at the stage of rapid scanning in Disk Drill detected 20 files with images, which are my photos (preview is available by clicking on the magnifier). However, the program has not recovered the file names. In the course of the further search for deleted files, Disk Drill found a pile of something else, unknown where it came from (probably, from past use of the flash drive).

To recover the found files, just tick them (you can separate a whole category, e.g. jpg files) and press Recover again (the button on the top right). All recovered files can then be found in the Windows Documents folder, where they will be sorted in the same way as in the utility itself.

As far as we can see, Disk Drill for Windows showed itself worthy in this simple but very common scenario (certain costly software provides worse results in the same experiment). Plus, its navigation and use, we believe, will not cause any problems for anyone. We recommend Disk Drill.

Alternative Way to Restore Data on your PC

At the first launch, the utility will offer to activate the Recovery Vault mode. When data protection is enabled, Disk Drill will save information about the location of files on your hard drive to increase the chance of their recovery.

What to do if you have deleted important documents on your USB drive? Of course, you need to run the utility and plug in the drive. The queue is not important – the utility keeps track of what you connect to your PC, so the list of devices is updated automatically. By the way, you can choose either the entire device or a separate partition of the disk will be scanned.

If, for example, you have formatted a USB drive, or the file system on it is damaged, and the drive cannot be detected by the system, you should choose the device to scan the entire drive. Otherwise, you can narrow down the search, thus, speeding up the recovery process by selecting only the drive (in our case it’s disk “E:”). Then click “Search Data” and wait.

The time of data search depends on the size and speed of the drive. Sometimes, it takes minutes, sometimes hours. However, unlike other utilities, you can view the found files during the scanning process. It’s quite possible that your deleted file will be among the first ones to be found, so there’s no point in deep scanning.

To demonstrate found files, the utility uses several methods at once. On the left, there is a filter to sort files by type, on the right (if the folder view mode is selected), you can see the files in different ways: through Deep Scan, Quick Scan, Reconstructed, and Recommended with names. Usually, the results are duplicated but sometimes the file can only be found in the Deep Scan or Reconstructed section.

To return deleted files from “non-existence,” you need to tick the box and click “Restore” or restore everything at once by clicking “Restore all.” Note that in a free version of the utility, the amount of data to be recovered is limited to half a gigabyte, thus, if you want to recover certain types of documents, e.g., photos, you’d better switch to the “Files and Icons” mode with the “View” button and select “Pictures” on the left panel. Then you will see only this type of file and will be able to tick boxes you need.

Note that in terms of output folder for data recovery, you need to choose any other drive with enough space, not the one you extract data from. In fact, the utility will not let you make a mistake, however, we’d recommend keeping this in mind. There is no utility that can recover data immediately on the disk that is being scanned – this is due to the way files and directories are stored on the data carriers.