Part of a good Mac Tech’s tools is a data recovery program. There are a few out there, but I have used Prosoft Engineering’s Data Rescue for years, it is a great app. I had an opportunity to use it recently on a friends MacBook Pro, she was missing a bunch of photographs.
The first thing you have to do to use recovery apps is to connect the HD to your Mac. If the stuff to be recovered is on an external HD then just plug it in and do your search on it. However, if it is a “bare” HD that has been removed from a Mac then you need to have a sled or dock to put the HD in. The sled then connects to your Mac via USB so the bare drive is mounted on your Desktop ensuring that apps like Data Rescue can see it to search it. There are various kinds of docks out there, they cost anywhere from $30 to $50. If you are doing tech work on Macs they are invaluable. Here is what mine looks like:
I worked on a laptop 2.5″ hard drive. There is also a slot for a larger 3.5″ hard drive. These docks are very reliable and just totally handy to have around. You can get them at Amazon, Newegg, places like that.
Here is my experience with using data recovery programs. You are either looking for files and folders that have been deleted inadvertently or you are working on a hard drive that is failing and will not mount in the computer properly. Sometimes Data Rescue can even see hard drives that will not mount, but most often if you remove that HD from the Mac and attach it as a bare drive using a sled it may eventually (can be kind of slow) mount on the Desktop. Keep in mind, there are times when the drive is just too damaged. In that case you are up a creek or, if the data is important enough, you can send it into a service for data recovery. Prosoft offers that kind of service, but there are other companies out there as well, Be prepared to pay a lot of money if you send the drive out, but only you can decide how valuable the data is. But I digress.
When you open Data Rescue it asks what you want to do:
Typically you want to “Start Recovering Files”. However, the “Resume Recovering Files” is a nice feature. If you are recovering deleted files especially, the search and recovery process can take a long time, sometimes all day or even overnight. To be able to stop and start again at a later time is sweet.
Once you have selected “Start Recovering Files” you will need to select the HD you wish to search. Here I always select the physical hard drive:
Next you have to decide what type of activity you wish Data Rescue to perform. In this case “Deleted Files Scan”.
Then just click Start. Data Rescue will scan the drive. It will take several hours depending on how much data you have on your drive:
When it is finished it will present you with the completed scan:
Then you can scroll through the scan and select what you wish to recover:
Once you click start it will recover what you have selected. Of course you have to navigate to a folder on a drive for it to send the files:
It notifies you when it is finished recovering the files, this part of the process does not take too long:
Now comes the tedious part. Data Rescue does not differentiate between your pictures and any and all pictures on the machine. It just finds stuff like JPEGs. So, if it is photos you are looking for, you will have to sort through a bunch of stuff to find your photos. This can be quite tedious, but it is doable. If you are looking for things that are more particular, like Word Docs, it should be a lot easier. You can put a file extension (or any other text) in the search window and it will find that for you.
Yes, this process is a bit involved, but Data Rescue does most of this stuff in the background so you can do other things. It is a great app, I highly recommend it.