How to Restore Hard Drive

It’s hard to overstate the importance of hard drives to PCs. A hard drive can be internal — that is, built directly into the computer itself — or external, meaning that the storage unit sits outside the computer’s enclosure but remains connected to it, such as with a USB cable.
Either way, a hard drive can store a myriad of things — from images, videos, and documents to software like word processors and computer games.
Your own home PC probably uses a hard drive that stores many files important to you on either a personal or professional level. They could include photos or videos of special moments in your life, like birthdays and weddings, or text pieces or images you have created for work.
However, there remain various circumstances where you could lose precious data from that hard drive. You might just accidentally delete the wrong files while attempting some digital de-cluttering, or the hard drive might incur damage — for example, as a result of a natural disaster.
Fortunately, if you are struck by any such crises, you could find it surprisingly straightforward to restore the hard drive — as long as, among other situational factors, you know what you are doing. Here is an informative but beginner-friendly guide to recovering lost files from a hard drive.

What Kind of Hard Drive Do You Want to Restore?

Regardless of your answer to this question, the hard drive will ultimately be either an internal or external unit. Internal and external drives differ in their pros and cons.
In any case, you will have at least an internal drive, as your computer wouldn’t be able to function correctly without one. You might still have chosen to use an external drive as the one where you store the majority of your computer’s files.
After all, external drives can come with much more storage than internal drives. This is because an external drive does not need to be small enough to fit into any specific computer or other device.
Internal drives do have the edge in several other respects — such as in being:
  • Easier to start using, as they do not have to be manually connected to the computer first.
  • Quicker to save files, as the drive is closely integrated with the computer itself.
  • Less likely to be physically damaged, as the drive is enclosed by the computer’s casing.
Both internal and external drives can lose data. If this has happened to your own drive, the matter of whether it is internal or external will be a factor — albeit not necessarily a major one — in how to restore the hard drive and retrieve data it has lost.

How Might You Lose Data from a Hard Drive?

We probably all like to do a bit of ‘spring cleaning’ from time to time. However, as you endeavor to delete hard drive files you no longer need, you could absentmindedly hit the ‘delete’ button for the wrong files — such as if they were named similarly to those you were actually meant to remove.
A hard drive can also lose data due to being physically damaged. Obviously, this can happen if the drive is accidentally dropped onto a hard surface or subjected to vandalism.
Another possibility, though, is that an extreme weather event leads the hard drive to start burning due to wildfire or pick up water damage from flooding.
You can also potentially struggle to source files from a hard drive if it has crashed or failed — and consequently been rendered largely inoperable. Warning signs of a malfunctioning hard drive include:
  • Filenames or folder names that have become inexplicably altered or jumbled.
  • The infamous ‘blue screen of death’.
  • Unsettling noises coming from the drive.
  • Error messages like ‘Disk boot failure’ or ‘Operating system not found’.
In any case, data loss from a hard drive can especially sting if you hadn’t previously, as a precautionary measure, saved copies of that now-lost data to cloud storage solutions like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Otherwise, you could simply fetch those copies from the cloud.
Even if this cloud route simply isn’t an option in your case, it might not mean that all is (permanently) lost. It would, though, remain imperative for you to think carefully about what data recovery strategy to pursue lest the data does end up gone for good.

Be Careful What You Do With the Hard Drive

One good reason to initially be hopeful is that, even when a computer says a particular file has been deleted, it might actually just be lurking out of sight for the time being.
We say this as when you order a certain file on a hard drive to be deleted, the computer will at first just erase information that points to this data. The data itself will remain intact until it is overwritten, which can happen sooner rather than later if you proceed to regularly add new data to the drive.
This is something you should — as much as possible — try to avoid doing while you strive to restore the hard drive’s lost data. That way, you can help to maximize your chances of getting it all back.
Conversely, one multifunctional piece of software you can immensely benefit from installing in this situation is iolo’s data retrieval tool Search and Recover. We would just urge you to install it on a computer and hard drive other than those from which you are seeking to recover deleted data.
Search and Recover can be installed on PCs running any of these operating systems:
  • Windows 11
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3)
Once you have installed this data recovery software on a secondary computer, the next step is to take the problem hard drive and connect it to this computer.
Of course, this should be a simple thing to do if you want to restore an external hard drive. Unsurprisingly, the process is trickier if the hard drive in this equation is an internal unit instead.
However, after using contents from a tool kit to open the old computer’s enclosure and lifting the hard drive from it, you can plug that drive into a new PC via a universal drive adapter.

How Our Search and Recover Software Eases Data Recovery

For a start, whether you are hoping to restore an external hard drive, or a drive instead integrated firmly into the computer it is intended to be used with, you can take comfort that Search and Recover is able to retrieve lost data from drives of various types. Those include:
  • USB
  • USB 2.0
  • IDE
  • SCSI
  • FireWire
The software can also unearth data from certain damaged hard drives as well as formatted, repartitioned, or malfunctioning devices.
The intuitive interface of Search and Recover enables it to be used time-effectively, too. Let’s assume, for example, you recall a now-lost file formerly being in a specific location on the drive. The software would allow you to direct its search capabilities towards just that one specific location.
On a similar note, the SmartScan feature would let you tailor your search so that it disregards irrelevant and useless junk files. This functionality, too, can aid you in stripping flab out of what, with an alternative data recovery solution, could have proved an onerous and time-draining procedure.
Also helpful is that Search and Recover comes with StrongScan. In performing a sector-level search, this particular feature may find the misplaced data somewhere you had never previously realized it was kept.
Search and Recover can effectively trace both files and folders before restoring them. We do recommend, though, that you thoroughly read our in-depth guide on how iolo’s Search and Recover software can act as a significant catalyst in a wide range of data recovery attempts.

Obtain Data Recovery Software from the Right Provider

The ‘right’ provider is one with a relevant, impressive pedigree. We at iolo have already been honing our prowess in PC performance innovation for over two decades. We also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on Search and Recover, reflecting our confidence in the quality of this product.
We do hope that you won’t see the need to return the product, as it can be effectively used for much more than just one-off occasions when you are eager to restore a hard drive. Search and Recover can be used for recovering lost data on not only hard drives but also (to cite just a few examples):
  • Flash drives
  • Cameras
  • MP3 players
Your initial financial outlay on Search and Recover will entitle you to use this data retrieval tool for a year-long period — after which time, you will be required to renew in order to preserve your access to the software features.


Still, before you do seriously consider using Search and Recover, you might want clarification on a few points about it. In this case, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to our California-based team of hard drive restoration experts. You can contact us by phone on (808) 207-3783.

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What is iolo's Whole Home License?

The Whole Home License® is iolo’s licensing policy that allows you to install and keep your software running on all of your compatible devices within the same home. Previously, users were allowed to install and license their iolo software simultaneously on a maximum of three PCs. Under the Whole Home License, a single activation key allows you to use your iolo software on all of your PCs, other than any PCs you use for business purposes. What you need to know about Whole Home Licensing

  • You, your spouse, and your relatives living within the same household may use the same license on any number of PCs that you own which are not used for business.
  • For full legal terms and conditions, see

To install your iolo product on additional PCs:

  1. On the additional computer, download the latest version of your iolo product. Choose from the list of downloads offered here.
  2. Follow the steps in the installation wizard, and enter the same Activation Key that you used to install on your original computer.

You can view the Activation Key on the original computer from within System Mechanic > red menu bar > key icon > Activation Key.