What should I do to address accidental file deletion?


Accidental file deletion isn’t a fun thing to experience, but it’s seldom as bad as it seems at first because there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to save your data in just three steps.

Step #1: Look in the Recycle Bin/Trash

This may sound silly, and you’ve probably already done it, but the first thing you should do is check if your data is in the Windows Recycle Bin on Windows or macOS Trash folder. No luck? That’s okay. Let’s move on to the next step.

Step #2: Check Your Backups

In addition to third-party backup software, both Windows and macOS come with native backup features that can be used to restore your data. Both Windows File History (and other similar features) and macOS Time Machine are easy to use, but they can help you only if enabled at the time of the data loss incident.

Step #3: Use Data Recovery Software

Data recovery software can recover even permanently deleted files that are not backed up anywhere. We’ve tested a large number of data recovery software applications for Windows and Mac, and you can find our detailed reviews on this website. For the purpose of this guide, we will use one of the best freeware solutions for Windows and Mac, Disk Drill.

How to Recover Accidentally Deleted Files Using Disk Drill

1. Download, install, and launch Disk Drill

First, download either Disk Drill for Windows or Disk Drill for Mac, depending on which operating system you use. Open the installer file and follow the installation instructions to install the application. You can then go ahead and launch it.

Disk drill install for windows Disk drill install for macOS

Hint: Disk Drill requires administrator privileges to run on Windows, and it requires additional permissions to ensure proper access, scanning, and data recovery on macOS.

2. Select the Storage Device on Which Your Data Was Stored

Disk Drill will automatically display a list of all available storage devices, and you need to select the one on which your accidentally deleted files were stored. If you’re not sure which device is the right one, switch to the Info tab to see more information about the currently selected device.

disk list in disk drill for windows disk list in disk drill for macOS

3. Scan the Selected Storage Device & Wait

With the right storage device selected, you can click the Search for lost data button to begin scanning. For the best results, scan the entire storage device (not just a single partition or volume) using the default scan settings. Disk Drill lets you preview scan results in real-time, but you can also go prepare yourself a cup of coffee and let scanning finish before moving on to the next step.

scan process disk drill for windows scan process disk drill for macOS

4. Review Scan Results and Add Files to the Recovery Queue

To review your scan results, click the Review found items button on the scan screen. Use the scan results filters on the left, as well as the “Filter by” button next to the search bar, to narrow down the scan results to make it easier to find the accidentally deleted files. You can select any file to preview and verify its recoverability. To add a file to the recovery queue, simply click the checkbox next to it.

preview and select found data disk drill for windows preview and select found data disk drill for macOS

5. Recover Selected Files to a Safe Location

When you’ve added all of the accidentally deleted files to your recovery queue, you can go ahead and click the Recover button. Disk Drill will ask you to select a safe recovery location, which can be any sufficiently large storage device except for the one from which you’re recovering the accidentally deleted files.

select save location on disk drill for windows select save location on disk drill for macOS

How to recover data from a corrupted/damaged drive

If you need to recover data from a storage device that seems to be corrupted or damaged, then you need to do two things: determine the true condition of the storage device and choose the best data recovery approach.

Determine the Condition of the Storage Device

There are certain common signs of logical data corruption (non-mechanical causes of data loss) and physical damage that can help you determine the true condition of the storage device:

🟢 Signs of logical damage

  • Missing files
  • Certain files can’t be opened
  • Read/write errors
  • Device access issues
  • Wrong storage size reported

🔴 Signs of physical damage

  • Storage device not detected
  • Visible exterior damage
  • Strange sounds and noises

Choose the Best Data Recovery Approach

Hopefully, you now know if your storage device is damaged logically or physically, which means that you’re ready to choose the best data recovery approach.

🟢 Logical Damage

When access to files becomes impossible due to logical damage, you should first attempt to repair the damage by applying common fixes for:

With some luck, you’ll be able to repair the damage and restore access to your data. If that doesn’t happen, then it’s time to scan the drive using DIY data recovery software for Windows or Mac.

🔴 Physical Damage

Attempts to recover data from physically damaged storage devices at home rarely end well. That’s why we recommend you send your device to one of the best data recovery services and let professionals worry about the intricacies of data recovery after physical damage.

Where can I learn more about data recovery?


Learning more about data recovery can be an extremely rewarding activity, improving your ability to recover lost data.

Here are some insightful articles to get you started: