We’ve all accidentally deleted an important file — or forgotten to save a file after typing up a whole page worth of changes. The latter problem is fixed with Autosave in most modern Mac apps, and the former is usually fixable if you have a Time Machine backup setup or if the deleted file was in Dropbox (where you can undelete files or roll back changes to them for up to 30 days for free, from their site).
But what if you manage to delete a file that wasn’t backed up? Or — even worse — what if you wipe your whole backup disk without meaning to? You’re going to need a disk recovery tool, one that can undelete files. I just had this happen to my personal backup disk, and after recovering from my initial panic, took Disk Drill for a spin to see how much it could get back. This time, I wasn’t just testing an app for a review: I honestly needed the app to work.
The good news: it worked, most of the way. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of disk recovery, and how to get the most of your data back if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
When Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) was released, one of the tent-pole features was Time Machine, Apple’s extremely simple, all-encompassing backup solution. With Time Machine, you simply connected your external hard drive, configured a few settings and the utility began backing up your entire computer.
So long as your hard drive is connected, Time Machine continues to make backups on an hourly basis. The hourly backups are consolidated into a single day, every 24 hours and the days consolidated into a week, and so on, as disk space allows.
So your all good, correct? Your data is backed up, you’ve done your job and no matter what happens to your computer, you’ll still have everything in your backup. Well, ideally – yes. In reality, not necessarily.
The entire reason you are backing up your computer is because hard drives fail. A bad drop, a liquid spill, or simply old age, a hard drive will not last forever. So you back up your computer’s hard drive…to another hard drive. Now, if your internal hard drive fails, you have an external hard drive containing a second copy of everything… but as I said, hard drives fail. It’s inevitable. So what to do?
Make triple and quadruple backups? Sure, if you’ve got the time and money, but an easier and more economical solution is simply to check your backups every now and then. Make sure they are running properly, make sure your data is being backed up properly, make sure your the data is not corrupt, make sure you can recover your files properly. A little care and preparation can go a long way.