Chances are, if you’re reading this, you may have experienced issues with file corruption and/or data loss. If this is true, hang in there. There are plenty of circumstances that allow for data recovery, especially if you immediately power off your device and take it to professional data recovery engineers. Unfortunately, there are also situations in which files are overwritten or so corrupted that data recovery is no longer an option. This article is meant to help you understand what to expect from your particular scenario.
Scenario 1: The service information on your hard drive has become corrupted or otherwise damaged.
This can result from an improperly mounted or removed disk (which often occurs as a result of a power outage, power surge, or regular old user error) and often enough leads to the damage or loss of some or all of the hard drive metadata. Obviously this is unfortunate, but it could be worse- just because your metadata is unreachable does not mean your data has been altered or harmed in any way. Often in these situations, a simple file recovery program can analyze what information about your files and folders that remain and recover the data from them. This is actually one of the best case scenarios in terms of data loss.
Scenario 2: Your hard drive was repartitioned.
In the case of accidental repartitioning of a disk, the outlook is actually very similar to the Scenario 1, with only one important difference. The creation of a new partition causes some new data to be written onto the disk, overwriting the original information about the entire physical disk. At the same time, the rest of the data from the old partitions actually remain untouched, including metadata. File recovery programs are effective in this situation as well, the only difference being that some of the new partition data will have affected/erased some of the original data.
Scenario 3: A partition of your hard drive was reformatted.
Unfortunately, reformatting is generally more disruptive than repartitioning. A full format overwrites all of the data on the partition upon which it is conducted, so in that case you’re out of luck. A quick format, on the other hand, only overwrites some or all of the metadata on a file. File recovery programs can save you in these circumstances, though the percentage of data recovered varies with the formatting method. An extra search for known file types can help boost your odds.
Case 4: The file system of your disk became damaged.
The outcome for this one will vary depending on how severely your hard drive’s file system has been damaged. If only one of the two copies of information about files and folders on your disk has become damaged, a file recovery program can read your back up copy and recover all of your data. If both copies are corrupted, you’re basically out of luck. An extra search for known file types can help with this one, too.
Case 5: Your files have been moved across your disk.
If your computer froze or crashed in the midst of a disk defragmentation or repartitioning operation, you may be out of luck. Your metadata may seem fine, but often it will point to the wrong physical addresses in your hard drive because it hasn’t been updated with the info from the recent move. Expect many of your files to be fragmented and corrupted beyond repair.