How do I restore my hard drive?

Hard disk drive (HDD) is surely one of the most important devices inside any computer nowadays. It stores our documents, pictures, videos, different kinds of tools that we need for our work, games, and even the operating system itself. Although most computers are able to boot from other devices (CD/DVD-ROM, USB memory stick, network etc.), the hard drive still offers the quickest and the most convenient way to load an operating system.

Modern hard drives are amazingly reliable. They can work for years without a single failure, which is not rare.

At the same time, the hard disk drive is also the most unreliable device in our computer. Unlike CPU or extension cards (sound card, graphic card etc.) it has moving parts, which automatically places it into another category.

For example, sometimes it is sufficient to kick the case of a working computer to make heads of the hard drive "jump" and scratch disks (this is called a "head crash"). If you kick your computer case quite hard, you may be in "luck" of having new bad sectors, which may lead to losing some data. An excessive shock can damage the hard drive even further, making it unusable.

Modern hard drives employ a number of technologies to prevent data loss. For instance, they automatically detect and remap bad areas, thus making small damages invisible to the user. If power supply is unexpectedly interrupted, heads are moved to a special 'landing zone', thus preventing damages to the surface where data is stored (while disks are rotating, heads are supported by an air flow and do not touch the surface).

However, even such sophisticated techniques don't save us from hard drive failures. Usually hard drive manufacturers are the first to recommend regular backups of important data.

There may be several situations when you need to restore your hard drive. A physical damage is the worst one, because usually there is no way to recover the data that had been saved on the thin magnetic film scraped by a head crash. But even such a damage doesn't always mean that you can't recover your files.

Every operating system communicates with the hard drive via a file system, which means that the hard drive is formatted in a special way. The formatting consists of some system-related information that is used for saving and retrieving files.

If an area with such information is physically damaged, you won't be able to access some of your files (or even all of them). However, the files themselves can be good. It's only the file system that isn't able to find or retrieve the data anymore.

Advanced NTFS Recovery will scan your hard drive for such lost files. If necessary, it will access them directly, without using the damaged file system's path. Thus you can retrieve files from a damaged drive to some other media (to a memory stick) and then reformat your hard drive to make it usable again (the damaged area will be marked as 'bad' and won't be used anymore).

Another type of damage is a system failure during a writing process. In this case, platters of the hard drive are not scratched, but the result may be exactly so serious for existing files: they can disappear or become inaccessible. Technically this problem is not much different from the previous one and is cured in a similar way: run Advanced NTFS Recovery and restore files that can be restored.

Yet another situation when your may be thinking about restoring your hard drive is a mistakenly formatted hard drive. This is similar to the recovery of a formatted partition, which means that there are good chances to recover all files, if you didn't use the hard drive since the formatting. However, unlike the situation when only one (but not the main one) logical drive is formatted, a completely formatted hard drive doesn't contain any operating system.

Of course, this is not a problem if you have several hard drives. With a single hard drive, you won't be able to reinstall the operating system without deleting files that you want to recover.

Is there a way out of this?

Sure. You can connect your hard drive to another computer and undo formatting there (with a tool like Advanced NTFS Recovery). Also it is possible to load an operating system from another source, but the latter should be prepared first.

And, of course, the first rule of data recovery is worth of mentioning here. Do not use the drive that you need to restore. Avoid saving or installing anything there. If you do need to install or save something, use a memory stick, or another hard drive.

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