Can You Recover Data from a Wiped Hard Drive

One of those common accidents can be that your hard drive is completely wiped without creating a backup for your necessary files. Fortunately, you are not driven into an impasse – you still have the chance to recover your deleted or lost data. If you are looking for solutions to fix this problem, don’t miss this post. Here we are going to provide you with several useful ways to get your data back from a wiped hard drive. Let’s move on!

a pencil wiping a hard drive
Photo Credit: pandorarecovery

Can I Recover a Wiped Hard Drive?

In most cases, it is possible to recover data from a wiped hard drive. Although you cannot access the data anymore after you erase it from your hard drive, it still exists on the drive physically until new data is written on the device and overwrites it. During this period of time, you actually have a good chance of data recovery successfully.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. There are some reasons why you might fail to accomplish data recovery from an erased hard drive:

  • Your Solid State Drive (SSD) enables the TRIM feature, which will entirely remove your data in a short time with no record left after you delete it from the drive.
  • You perform a full format when you format your disk, which will cause there to be no trace of the data left. In other words, it is impossible to recover the data under this circumstance.
  • Your hard drive suffers severe damage and thus it stops working or some data stored on it has been compromised.

How to Recover Data from a Wiped Hard Drive on Various Devices

If your wiped hard drive can be recognized or detected by a computer, you can try recovering your lost data. This is mainly done with data recovery software. Now let’s learn about how to recover your deleted data from an erased hard drive on three different operating systems – Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Recover Data from a Wiped Hard Drive on Windows 10/11

To adopt data recovery from an erased hard drive, it is recommended to use professional data recovery software as it is able to finish the job more quickly and effectively. Now there are a number of these software in the market and you can opt for any one of them as long as it is specialized in this field. In order to offer a practical demonstration, here we will take ONERECOVERY as an example. ONERECOVERY is a reliable data recovery software for Windows OS.

Step 1. Download the Windows version of the data recovery program from its official website and launch it after installation.

Step 2. Click on the “Select Folder” button on the right side of the primary interface to select the wiped drive.

onerecovery data recovery software

Step 3. Once you have selected your desired location, a deep scan will be automatically initiated to search for all your recoverable files and data. Please wait for the scan to complete.

scanning files using onerecovery data recovery software

Step 4. When the scan is finished, locate and select the files that you would like to recover from the scanning results showing up on the interface.

Step 5. After that, you are allowed to first preview the selected data by merely clicking on it so that you can check if everything is ready now.

recover files

Step 6. After confirming the files you want to retrieve, press the “Recover” button at the bottom right corner of your screen.

Step 7. Finally, specify a new location in the new pop-up window to save your recovered data and click the “Recover” button. Notice that you must avoid choosing the hard disk in which the data is deleted.

save the recovered file to a new location

Recover Data from a Wiped Hard Drive on a Mac

When it comes to Mac, your lost data from a wiped hard drive can be easily recovered with the usage of the Disk Drill utility. It is a free program for Mac that serves as an expert in the recovery of lost or deleted data. Follow the steps below to get your data back from an erased hard drive on your macOS system:

Step 1. Start by downloading Disk Drill from its official website and installing it.

Step 2. Open the application and click on the wiped drive on the primary interface.

Disk Drill Mac
Photo Credit: Handy Recovery

Step 3. Make your way to the right side of the window and select the “All recovery methods” option under the name of your desired drive.

Step 4. Press the “Search for lost data” button at the bottom right corner, and a scan will begin to retrieve all the recoverable data on your hard drive.

Step 5. After the scan is complete, click the “Review found items” button to see a list of the retrieved files.

Disk Drill Mac
Photo Credit: Handy Recovery

Step 6. Find and select the items you wish to recover from the list, and then click on the “Recover” button.

Photo Credit: Handy Recovery

Step 7. At last, choose a new path to save your recovered data, which should not be the same drive that the data was erased from.

Recover Data from a Wiped Hard Drive on Linux

If your hard drive is wiped by accident on Linux, you can consider using PhotoRec to recover the deleted data. It is a free utility available on Linux and is designed to recover your lost files from hard drives effectively with command lines. Below are the steps to use the program in the right way:

Step 1. Go to Terminal on your Linux. 

Step 2. Type “sudo apt-get install testdisk” to install the TestDisk tool.

sudo apt-get install testdisk

Step 3. Enter “sudo photorec” to launch the PhotoRec utility.

Step 4. After that, select your wiped hard disk from the list in the window and hit the Enter key to confirm.

hit the Enter key to confirm

Step 5. Select your partition type, then click the “File Opt” button, and hit Enter to proceed.

file out

Step 6. Next, select the file types you would like to retrieve and then press Enter.

custom own custom sigatures

Step 7. Then select the partition that contains your erased data, click on the “Search” button below, and then press the Enter key.

Step 8. Now select the filesystem type and press Enter to continue the progress. In general, Linux partitions should be “ext2/ext3”.


Step 9. Select the “Whole” option and hit Enter to perform a complete scan on the selected partition.

Step 10. Once the scan is done, choose a destination from the directories showing up in the window to keep your recovered files.

choose a destination from the directories

💡 Bonus Tips: Recover Data from Backups

Though people usually rely on third-party applications to recover data, in fact, it is possible to realize data recovery from your backups. If you are interested in this method, try the steps as follows:

Step 1. Go to Control Panel from the Start menu.

Step 2. Navigate to “Backup and Restore” and click it.

Backup and Restore

Step 3. Press the “Restore my files” button under the Restore section.

Restore my files

Step 4. Choose “Browse for files” or “Browse for folders” to select the file you wish to restore.

Browse for folders

Step 5. After that, click on the “Next” button.

Step 6. Now select a location to store the data to be recovered. It’s still suggested you select a new, separate device to save your recovered data.

Step 7. Finally click “Restore” to initiate the recovery process.

Restore to initiate the recovery process

Why a wiped hard drive can be recovered?

When data is deleted from a hard drive, it does not mean it is gone forever. Instead, it still remains on the disk because just the locations of the bytes are deleted. However, if new data is input to the device, the original location of the erased data will be immediately overwritten, which indicates it is removed practically. Therefore, if you wish to recover your deleted data, you should refrain from using the drive and take action for data recovery as soon as possible.

Why isn’t data erased permanently when it is deleted?

This is a matter of efficiency. To improve performance and save time, operating systems tend to keep track of data that is deleted. It takes much less time to only delete the locations of bytes rather than completely removing all the data. Moreover, this also provides a good opportunity for people who accidentally erase their required data as they are able to recover it in no time before new data overwrites.


How to tell if a hard drive has been wiped?

Generally speaking, you can assume your hard drive has been totally wiped when you encounter one of the following situations:

  • You cannot see any files on your hard drive.
  • Your OS does not allow you to access your hard drive.
  • Your hard drive shows as unpartitioned empty space or RAW. 
  • Is it possible for a hard disk to wipe itself?

A hard drive of good performance usually will not suddenly wipe itself. Commonly this situation will appear when the file file system or the partition tables on the disk get damaged.

Can I recover accidentally deleted data with software?

Of course yes. The data that exists on your drive can be recovered through the use of professional data recovery software. But it should be noted that the possibility of success is not 100 percent. Namely, software cannot ensure you will be able to get your data back because success also depends on the efficiency with which data is erased and the physical condition of the drive itself.

How to completely erase a hard drive?

It is a rather simple process to thoroughly wipe your hard drive. You simply need to follow the steps below one by one:

  1. Launch File Explorer and right-click on the drive you wish to wipe.
  2. Select the “Format” option from the drop-down menu.
  3. Uncheck “Quick Format” under the “Format Options” section, so as to make sure your Windows will perform a full format.
  4. Adjust the other options if you need to. When you are sure everything is ready, press the “Start” button to format the disk.

Is it possible to recover erased data from an SSD?

Yes, data recovery from an SSD is practically possible. However, the success rate of recovery largely depends on whether or not you have enabled the TRIM command. This command allows your operating system to inform the SSD that data no longer in use can be wiped internally. Luckily, specialized data recovery software can make you free from worrying about whether the TRIM command is enabled or not. Commonly, you should follow these several steps to recover your deleted data from an SSD with data recovery software:

  1. Download the software from its official website and launch it.
  2. Select the SSD where your data was erased and start a scan.
  3. When the scan is complete, preview the recoverable data and select the file you would like to restore.
  4. Specify a new location to save your recovered data.

How to recover a deleted/erased Windows operating system?

Deleting a Windows operating system means erasing the system partition entirely. Therefore, you need a Windows recovery tool when you want to recover your operating system, such as ONERECOVERY. Generally speaking, the steps to accomplish Windows recovery with such tools are similar:

  1. Create a Bootable Media
    1. Connect a blank USB drive to another working computer.
    2. Launch your partition recovery program and select the drive to create a bootable media by following the on-screen instructions.
    3. After that, plug the USB drive into the original computer whose operating system was wiped.
    4. Restart your computer and hit the BIOS entry key when the first screen is displayed, thus making your device boot from the drive.
  2. Recover a Deleted Windows Operating System
    1. Enter your recovery program.
    2. Choose the hard drive that contains the erased partition and start a deep scan on it.
    3. When the scanning process is complete, preview and select the recoverable data.
    4. Specify a new location to save the recovered data. An external hard drive or removable device can be a good option.


It can be quite annoying when you find your hard drive is wiped accidentally and your required data is all lost. However, thankfully there are still some methods to get it back safely. In this post, we dive into details about how to recover data from an erased hard disk on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Hopefully, you will be able to recover your data successfully after reading the article. If you meet with other difficulties in the process of recovery and you cannot address them, please leave a comment and we are pleased to offer help to you.

📖 Further Readings

How To Recover Data From a Dead External Hard Drive

How to Recover Data from a RAW Hard Drive