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There’s literally nothing worse than losing your photos or files (maybe travelers diarrhea, but to be totally honest, given the choice I would probably prefer the diarrhea!).

Imagine this: you’ve spent 2 weeks in Finland taking incredible photos, kept an excel document of everyone’s phone numbers and email addresses that you met along the way, but 2 weeks later it’s all been completely wiped from your computer.

And that’s not a fake scenario, it actually happened to me. I literally have zero photo proof that I’ve ever been to Finland or eaten reindeer.

Or you’re in the middle of an epic round the world adventure, and suddenly you can’t find the folder with all your flight confirmations, hotel and tour bookings, and itinerary.

Also happened to me.

And even though I consider myself to be reasonably tech savvy, trust me when I say it’s a struggle to recover those important files. And before I heard of Disk Drill, I never succeeded at file recovery. Now though, it’s a totally different story.

How to Recover Lost Photos and Files (For Free) Using Disk Drill

How to Back Up Your Files

I’ve lost files, folders, and even whole computer directories far too often, so I’ve since begun obsessively backing up my files.

Our photography is all on an external harddrive, though we also keep photos on their original SD cards, and I have a memory card wallet to keep the cards in order once they’re full.

My computer files are backed up every night onto the same external harddrive, and there’s a copy of that whole harddrive on one used as a backup … mainly because I’ve been known to pick up my computer forgetting the harddrive was attached, and lose everything on it in one swift smash!

But even then; even with the obsessive amount of backups; I still sometimes manage to accidentally delete files. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Fortunately, free tools like CleverFiles’ Disk Drill Pro comes to the rescue, operating solely to recover lost files, deleted directories, and even entire lost partitions.

A lost partition is typically when your hard drive or memory card suddenly goes blank or is not recognized. The data might still be there, but the “map” the computer needs to find the data might be lost. Disk Drill enables you to restore the lost partition and get back your data, if it’s still there.

And, best of all, you don’t have to be an IT nerd to perform the data recovery. It’s super easy to use even if you’re a complete novice.

Disk Drill Computer Laptop

About Disk Drill

As far as data recovery goes, obviously you should first check your recycle bin. But by the same token, it’s a good idea to regularly empty your recycle bin to save space on your computer.

After it’s been deleted from your recycle bin, when the feeling of “I’m screwed” would normally set in, that’s where Disk Drill comes in. And it’s so effective that when I ran it for the first time, it found files I had deleted back in 2014!

So what is it?

Disk Drill is a free computer program that recovers lost/deleted data and helps you undelete files and folders using powerful forensic recovery methods. It’s quick, skimming through deleted files in seconds, and is incredibly effective.

It’s available for both Mac and Windows, and can be used to recover deleted files from almost any device. Yes your computer, but also an external harddrive, memory card recovery, iPods, iPads, or your phone.

It has recovery modules to recover everything from lost photos, videos, phone contacts, and notes. As long as the file hasn’t been overwritten, they’ll find it. And they find it fast.

How To Actually Use Disk Drill

Go to cleverfiles.com and you’ll have the option of a free download for Windows or Mac.

It’s a very quick download, and when the app opens it gives you the option to enable data protection on your main drive, monitor disks for hardware issues, and review and manage disk scanning results.

And like any decent app there’s an option to take a product tour where they explain how to use their features.

To start recovering files, select the disk (my choices were my C drive, and the external harddrive I had connected to my laptop), and hit the blue recover button to run a scan and search for lost files.

Disk Drill will immediately start scanning for lost files, and it’s good! My scan found 57 GB of permanently deleted files, which it displays in a list allowing you to click around the folders and files as you would in a normal computer directory, and view individual files before choosing to hit ‘restore’.

It’s ridiculously easy, ridiculously quick, and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before. You can also filter the search results by searching for a specific file name, or filter by pictures, video, documents, or audio.

When it’s recovered you’ll find the file in the same location it was before.

Screenshots

Choose a Device to Scan for Lost Files

Recovery Screen Displaying All Lost Files

Putting Disk Drill to the Test

I ran several different tests intentionally deleting common file types and Disk Drill consistently recovered the files after they were deleted.

As I mentioned above, it found / reconstructed files I had permanently deleted back in 2014 (yes, my computer has had a long run!!).

Most of the time it keeps the original properties in tact, like the file name and location, but I did notice that reconstructed photos often had a new folder and file names. In these cases there’s an icon to preview individual photos so you can see what’s what before choosing to restore.

The scans took around 10 minutes to do a complete scan of a 124 GB drive. This truly is an amazing tool for data recovery, and while I’m grateful for it as a traveler, I would go further to say it’s an essential app for every human being.

Because let’s be honest, I’ve yet to meet a fellow human who’s not accidentally lost at least one file before.

➡ Download Disk Drill for Mac

➡ Download Disk Drill for Windows

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Free vs Pro

Disk Drill is totally free, though they make their money on the bet that you’ll love their program so much that you’ll upgrade to pro (which I’ve done).

With the free version you get free recovery up to 500 MB, recovery protection, can backup failing disks, preview all recovery methods, and undelete protected data. It works really well, and if you only need to recover one or two files, the free version is good enough.

There are extra free disk tools too like being able to scan for disk health, run a Mac cleanup, duplicate file finder, and a data protection vault.

Upgrading to pro is $89 USD, and means unlimited personal recovery, the ability to do a quick and deep scan, to rebuild HFS + Catalogs, run a lost partition search, and recover all media types (reconstructs 300 + file formats) and file systems.

➡ Download Free for Mac

➡ Download Free for Windows

Recover Lost Files Now

Giveaway update: We have given away all of our free upgrade codes and the giveaway has now closed. 

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    39 Comments

  1. I want code for Windows please

    • Sure thing! I’ve emailed you with your upgrade code :)

  2. I want a code for Windows

    • Sure thing! I’ve emailed you with your upgrade code :)

  3. I want a code for Windows!

    This post came at the perfect time—I just experienced an external hard drive failure the other day, so it’s been a stressful week, and I’m really hoping this solves the issue.

    • Sure thing! I’ve emailed you with your upgrade code – hope it helps bring back your hard drive!!

  4. I want a code for Mac. This looks like a very useful software. And I am right now struggling with lost partitions on my external hard drive. Hope this helps.

    • Emailed you :) Hope it helps with recovering your partitions!

    • Emailed you! Enjoy the pro version!

  5. Too late (well, not really, but it could have saved some time). We recently had two SD cards, which became corrupted before I got the photos off (basically in the process of transferring the images). I searched long and hard until I found a very basic DOS command line program to rescue them. But not everybody will be comfortable with such ancient DOS commands…

    Many of the top links in Google promise the world, often can’t deliver, and cost a fortune without any guarantees.

    • Glad you managed to rescue them in the end, I agree that most programs that come up top of Google search are worthless. Disk Drill is great though, I’m glad I found it. I still have free upgrade codes left if you’re interested. Let me know :)

    • Thanks for the offer, but I hope for no repeat. And if, then I now have that crude DOS program. Give it to the “needy”.

  6. I want a code for Windows.
    You obviously had a very large hard disk. Too often, if we don’t seek out lost files, the drive space has been utilized by newer files. The names can be recovered, but not the data, when that happens.

    • Sure thing, emailed you :) Yes, because we take quite a lot of travel photography, I need a lot of storage space!

      Interesting info, makes sense!

  7. This is quite awesome. I upload photos immediately to Facebook or my Google Drive – being a Chromebook guy – but it helps to have a driller to nab deleted computer files and photos. Love the idea. Tweeted of course.

    Ryan

    • Thanks for sharing Ryan, and a great idea to back up your photos immediately to online servers. I should start making more of a habit of doing this too!

  8. I want a cide for Windows please.

  9. seems like it wont let me comment so trying again. Windows please. (maybe too late.)

    • Comment came through … I think there might be a lag between submitting and having it show up on the post. You got the last code for Windows :)

  10. This sounds like an awesome program. I’d love a code for Mac if it’s still available.

    • Sure thing, I’ve emailed you :)

  11. Would love a code for Mac! Thanks Meg!!!

  12. We lost all the Tassie pics and footage!

    • Oh no! Sorry to hear! We still have a free Mac code left if you’re a Mac user? Otherwise hopefully the free version should be able to help find them again :)

  13. No, I haven’t, but something equally bad happened to my pictures. When iPhoto became Photos, 90% of my pictures were damaged and lost their information. As such, they can be seen on the computer in small format, but when enlarged they are all blurry and can’t be exported or altered in any way.

    • That sucks sorry to hear that :( In a way at least you still have the memories in the small files even if they can’t be blown up and used for much. Hopefully it never happens again!

  14. I want a code for Mac, please.

    • Emailed you with the last code! Hope it helps!

  15. Help!!! Can you recover deleted text? Not the file but the text accidentally deleted?

    • It only works to recover files that have been deleted unfortunately. Sadly my understanding is that once something has been removed from the clipboard it’s not able to be recovered :(

  16. I want the code for Windows please

    • Hi Pollyanna, we’ve sadly given away all of our available codes at the moment. But you can download the free version of the app to start, and then if you find it’s useful can upgrade after that :) Hope it helps!

  17. One for windows please

    • Hi Alex, we’ve sadly given away all of our available codes at the moment. But you can download the free version of the app to start, and then if you find it’s useful can upgrade after that :) Hope it helps!

  18. Hi, do you still have the code for free upgrade.

    • Hi Salami, we’ve sadly given away all of our free upgrade codes at this stage. But you can download the free version of the app to start, and then if you find it’s useful can upgrade after that :) Hope it helps!

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