How to Recover Deleted Data from a Hard Drive on a Mac

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Written By Michael Gilmer

Michael, a content curator at File Recovery Mac, excels at simplifying complex IT concepts into easily digestible chunks. Michael's expertise lies in IT, data recovery, and all things "techy."

SUMMARY: Mac hard drive data recovery involves retrieving lost or corrupted data through specialized processes. Methods include using Time Machine, Disk Utility, or data recovery tools. Time Machine allows easy file restoration from backups. Disk Utility in Recovery Mode scans and repairs drives. Data recovery tools perform comprehensive scans and restore lost data. Prevent data loss by regularly backing up with Time Machine. Professional data recovery services and Target Disk Mode are additional options.

How to Recover Deleted Data from a Hard Drive on a Mac

Ever experienced the sinking feeling of realizing you’ve lost important files on your Mac? You’re not alone. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll not only walk you through the technicalities of Mac hard drive data recovery but also share pro tips to make the process less daunting. Let’s dive in and rescue your valuable data!

In this article, we will explore the different methods and techniques for Mac hard drive data recovery, ensuring that you have the knowledge to successfully recover your lost files.

Ready to rescue your lost data? Dive into our comprehensive guide below and regain control of your Mac’s hard drive!

Method 1 : Recover Mac Hard Drive Data Using Time Machine

time machine

To recover data from a Mac hard drive using Time Machine, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your Time Machine backup device, such as an external hard drive, to your Mac.
  2. On your Mac, click on the Time Machine icon located in the top menu bar. If the icon is not visible, click on the Apple menu, go to System Preferences, and select Time Machine.
  3. A Time Machine window will open, displaying your backup history. Use the timeline on the right side to browse through different snapshots of your Mac’s files and folders.
  4. Navigate to the desired file or folder that you want to recover using the arrows or by selecting a specific date and time from the timeline.
  5. Once you have located the file or folder, right-click on it and select the “Restore [file] to…” option.
  6. Choose the location where you want to restore the file or folder. You can restore it to its original location or choose a different destination.
  7. Click on the “Restore” button to initiate the recovery process. Time Machine will restore the selected file or folder to the specified location.

Congratulations on successfully recovering your data! If you found this method helpful, explore more tips in our guide to Mac maintenance.

Method 2 : Recover Mac Hard Drive Data Using Disk Utility

Here are the steps to recover your Mac hard drive using Disk Utility:

  1. Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Alternatively, you can use Spotlight Search (Command + Space) and type “Disk Utility” to launch the application.
  2. In Disk Utility, you will see a list of all connected drives on the left sidebar. Locate and select the drive that contains the lost data.
  3. Once the drive is selected, click on the “First Aid” tab in the toolbar. This option checks and repairs disk errors, and it can help in recovering lost data.
  4. Click the “Run” button to initiate the First Aid process. Disk Utility will start examining and repairing the disk. If any issues are found, Disk Utility will attempt to fix them.
  5. After the process is complete, carefully review the results. If Disk Utility was able to repair any issues, there’s a chance that your lost data may have been recovered in the process.
  6. If the “First Aid” process does not recover your data, you can explore the “Restore” feature in Disk Utility. This involves copying the content of one drive to another. Select the source drive (the one where data loss occurred) and the destination drive (an external drive or another partition), then click on “Restore.”
  7. Once you have successfully recovered your lost data, it’s crucial to create a backup to prevent future data loss. You can use Time Machine or other backup solutions to regularly back up your important files.

By using the Disk Utility in Recovery Mode, you have a chance to repair and restore your Mac hard drive, potentially recovering your important data. Remember to connect an external drive to save your recovered files.

Kudos on leveraging a data recovery tool to rescue your valuable files! If you found this method valuable, delve into more advanced techniques and Mac maintenance tips in our in-depth guide to optimizing your Mac’s performance.

Method 3 : Recover Mac Hard Drive Data Using a Data Recovery Tool

Disk Drill, a popular data recovery tool for Mac, has proven to be a lifesaver for many users. Rob Lewis recently faced a challenging situation when his SSD lost its AFPS partition.

After trying two different competing products that claimed to find/read the APFS partition/file system, with no success, Rob turned to Disk Drill. Not only did Disk Drill easily identify his existing files on the lost partition, but it also recovered numerous recently deleted files.

Rob immediately purchased Disk Drill, recognizing it as an invaluable tool in today’s modern digital age. His experience underscores the power of Disk Drill in addressing real-world data recovery situations.

disk drill mac data recovery software
  1. Begin by downloading and installing a reliable data recovery tool designed for Mac, such as Disk Drill.
  2. Connect your Mac’s hard drive to the computer using a USB cable or docking station. Ensure that the drive is recognized by the computer.
  3. Open Disk Drill on your Mac. Once the application is launched, it will automatically detect all connected storage devices.
  4. From the list of detected devices, select your Mac’s hard drive that you want to recover data from. Click on the “Recover” button to proceed.
  5. Disk Drill will prompt you to choose a recovery method. Select “Scan for lost data” option to initiate a comprehensive scan on your hard drive. Depending on the size of the drive and the amount of data, the scanning process may take some time.
  6. Once the scan is complete, Disk Drill will display a list of recoverable files. You can preview the files to verify their integrity and select specific files that you want to recover. Alternatively, you can choose to recover all the found items by selecting the “Recover All” option.
  7. Before proceeding with the recovery, it is crucial to specify a different storage location to save the recovered files. This is to avoid overwriting any existing data on the damaged or corrupted hard drive.
  8. Finally, click on the “Recover” button to initiate the data recovery process. Disk Drill will restore the selected files to the specified location.

Using a data recovery tool like Disk Drill can help you recover lost or deleted data from your Mac’s hard drive. Remember to regularly back up your important files to prevent data loss situations in the future.

Best Data Recovery Software for macOS

Explore the top data recovery software for macOS and choose the best fit for your needs. Your files deserve the best protection!

1. Disk Drill

User-friendly interface with a straightforward recovery process.Free version has limited features and allows only 500 MB of data recovery.Free version available. Pro version starts at $89.

2. Stellar Data Recovery

Excellent recovery success rate for various file types.Slow scanning process when dealing with large drives.Free version available. Standard version starts at $79.99.

3. Data Rescue

Intuitive interface with easy navigation.Somewhat higher pricing compared to other tools.Standard version starts at $99.

4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Offers both quick and deep scan options.Free version has limited features and restricts data recovery to 2GB.Free version available. Pro version starts at $89.95.

5. Wondershare Recoverit

Efficient recovery process with high success rate.Free version has limited features and allows recovery of only 100MB data.Free version available. Essential version starts at $79.95.

6. R-Studio

Advanced features for recovering data from partially corrupted drives.Steeper learning curve for inexperienced users.Starts at $79.99.

7. Remo Recover

Simple and intuitive interface suitable for beginners.Limited functionality in the free version.Essential version starts at $39.

8. OnTrack EasyRecovery

Comprehensive recovery options for various data loss scenarios.Higher pricing compared to other tools.Professional version starts at $199.95.

Method 4 : Recover Your Mac Hard Drive with Data Recovery Services

Data recovery services are a great option for those who don’t have the technical expertise necessary to recover Mac hard drive data on their own. Not only can these services save users time and frustration, but they can also provide expert assistance in recovering your lost data.

The process of using a data recovery service is relatively straightforward. To begin, you’ll need to contact the company and send them your hard drive. They’ll then inspect the drive and determine what type of recovery is necessary.

Once they have a plan, they’ll provide an estimate of how much it will cost to recover your data and how long it will take. After the recovery is finished, you can then receive the recovered data on a new hard drive or have it sent back to you on the original drive.

Data recovery services can be pricey, but they may be the only option if you have a severely damaged hard drive or critical data that needs to be recovered. Before choosing a service, make sure to do your research and find a reputable company with a good track record.

Best data recovery services for macOS

These services are designed to help Mac users recover lost data effectively and efficiently, catering to different types of data loss scenarios and storage devices (Forbes).

  1. CBL Data Recovery: Best for emergency data recovery.
  2. Ontrack: Best for natural disasters.
  3. SalvageData: Best for high success rates.
  4. DriveSavers: Best for fast turnaround.
  5. Seagate In-Lab Recovery: Best for owners of Seagate drives.

Method 5 : Recover Your Mac Hard Drive with Target Disk/Share Disk

The Target Disk Mode (TDM), also known as Share Disk, is a feature on Mac computers that allows you to use one Mac as an external hard drive connected to another Mac. This can be a helpful method for recovering data from a Mac hard drive. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Target Disk Mode:

Prerequisites :

  1. Two Mac computers: You will need two Macs for this method—one with the problematic hard drive and another to connect as the host.
  2. FireWire or Thunderbolt cable: Depending on the model of your Macs, you may need a FireWire or Thunderbolt cable. Make sure you have the appropriate cable for both Macs.

Steps to Recover Your Mac Hard Drive :

  1. Power Off Both Macs, Ensure both Macs are turned off.
  2. Connect the two Macs using the FireWire or Thunderbolt cable.
  3. Turn on the Mac that you want to use as an external drive while holding down the ‘T’ key on the keyboard. This action boots the Mac into Target Disk Mode.
  4. The Mac with the problematic hard drive should display a FireWire or Thunderbolt icon on the screen.
  5. The hard drive of this Mac is now mounted as an external drive on the other Mac.
  6. On the second Mac (the host), open Finder.
  7. The hard drive of the first Mac should appear as an external drive on the desktop or in the Finder sidebar.
  8. Navigate through the files on the problematic hard drive and copy the data you need to recover to a safe location on the second Mac.
  9. Once you’ve recovered the necessary data, eject the external drive by dragging it to the trash or using the eject icon.
  10. On the Mac with the problematic hard drive, hold down the power button until the computer turns off. Disconnect the cable.
  11. Power on both Macs independently.

Notes :

  1. Ensure that the cable and ports are in good condition to avoid connectivity issues.
  2. Target Disk Mode requires compatible ports on both Macs. Older Macs might use FireWire, while newer ones use Thunderbolt.
  3. If your Mac doesn’t support Target Disk Mode, consider using an external hard drive enclosure to connect the problematic hard drive externally.

Why is Hard Drive Data Recovery Essential for Mac?

Mac users often encounter data loss situations that require hard drive data recovery. These situations can range from accidentally deleting important files to hard drive crashes or logical damage. Thankfully, data recovery tools are available to help Mac users in such circumstances.

One common reason Mac users require hard drive data recovery is accidental file deletion. Whether it is deleting an important document or an entire folder, recovery software can help recover these lost files. Additionally, hardware failures or crashes can also cause data loss. In these situations, recovery software can scan the damaged hard drive and retrieve the lost data, giving mac users peace of mind.

Hard drive data recovery is essential for Mac users who face data loss situations. recovery software features, such as detecting lost files due to logical damage and performing a deep scan, make it a reliable tool for recovering data on Mac systems.

How Can I Secure My Files and Prevent Loss in the Future?

Take the first step towards file security. Set up Time Machine now and ensure your data is backed up consistently.

Losing important files can be a nightmare, especially on a Mac. However, you can prevent future file loss by setting up Time Machine, an automatic backup system. Here are the steps to ensure your files are always safe:

  1. Acquire an external hard drive: To set up Time Machine, you’ll need an external hard drive with sufficient storage capacity. Connect the drive to your Mac using a USB or Thunderbolt cable.
  2. Prompt to use the drive for Time Machine: After connecting the external hard drive, a pop-up prompt will appear, asking if you want to use the connected drive for Time Machine. Click “Yes.”
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions: Your Mac will guide you through the setup process. Simply follow the on-screen instructions. You may be asked to enter your administrator password to allow Time Machine to make changes.
  4. Choosing excluded folders and locations: Time Machine will automatically back up your entire Mac, but you have the option to exclude specific folders or locations if you wish. This can be done in the Time Machine preferences. Consider excluding large folders like virtual machines or media libraries to save space on the external hard drive.

By following these steps, you can prevent file loss on your Mac. Time Machine will regularly back up your files automatically, providing peace of mind knowing that your important data is secure. Remember to keep your external hard drive connected to ensure continuous backup and update it as needed to avoid capacity issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mac hard drive data recovery?

Mac hard drive data recovery is a specialized process aimed at retrieving lost, deleted, or corrupted data from a Mac hard drive, involving technical expertise and specialized tools.

Why might I need Mac hard drive data recovery?

You might need it due to accidental file deletion, hard drive crashes, virus attacks, or other data loss situations.

How can I recover data using Time Machine?

– Connect your Time Machine backup device.
– Click on the Time Machine icon or go to System Preferences > Time Machine.
– Browse through snapshots and select the file/folder.
– Right-click and choose “Restore [file] to…”
– Choose the location and click “Restore.”

Can Disk Utility help recover my Mac hard drive?

Yes, Disk Utility in Recovery Mode can assist. Here’s a brief guide:
– Connect to an external drive.
– Boot into Recovery Mode (Command + R).
– Open Disk Utility, select the troubled hard drive, and click “First Aid.”
– If issues are found, Disk Utility will attempt repairs.

What is the process of using a data recovery tool like Disk Drill?

– Download and install Disk Drill.
– Connect the hard drive.
– Open Disk Drill, select the drive, and click “Recover.”
– Choose “Scan for lost data” and wait for the scan to complete.
– Preview and select files, choose a storage location, and click “Recover.”

Are there preventative measures to avoid file loss on a Mac?

Yes, regularly back up your files using Time Machine. Acquire an external hard drive, prompt to use it for Time Machine, follow on-screen instructions, and consider excluding specific folders if needed.

What should I do if my Mac hard drive is still not working after recovery attempts?

If the drive is still not working, consider seeking professional data recovery services for further assistance


If you find yourself in a situation where you need to recover data from your Mac hard drive, don’t panic. There are several effective methods and tools available for Mac hard drive data recovery. Whether you choose to use built-in Mac utilities, third-party software, or seek professional help, it is possible to retrieve your lost files and documents.

Remember to act quickly, avoid further damage to your hard drive, and follow the appropriate steps to increase your chances of successful data recovery. With the right approach and the right tools, you can recover your valuable data and get back to work or play on your Mac.

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