A closer look at Disk Drill PRO

Disk Drill PRO (v1.2.97) is a Mac data recovery software that recovers data from HFS/HFS+, FAT, NTFS and other file systems. Disk Drill locates and recovers deleted files from any mountable media – main drives, external hard disks, memory cards, iPods Classic, etc. It can recover photos, music, documents, applications and many other known formats.

Installing Disk Drill takes just a few moments. You are asked to choose some options right away:

As you can see at the bottom of the screen, you’ll also be asked your admin password so that the software can access your disks and make changes.

I would recommend going through the offered tutorial – it’s very short, the tips are helpful and the information is presented in a simple and easy-to-understand way:

The welcome screen:

First, let’s see how you can protect your files from being lost through accidental deletion in the future. Press the “Protect” button and you will be faced with this screen (well, after you have pressed the Advanced option) :

The software immediately detects all mounted drives – in this case, my MacBook’s hard drive and the disk image for DiskDrill that I have not unmounted after the installation.

Clicking on the hard drive reveals its partitions, and I chose to protect the main one. The Recovery Vault protection is easily switched on and off by pressing either the small top right buttons or the ones in the middle of the screen. Advanced features allow you to choose particular folders you want monitored for deleted items.

My hard disk was instantly protected after I installed the software because I chose so during the installation. The green dot under the disk shows me that it doesn’t have any hardware issues. If it turns red, it is time to consider a backup. A click on the dot shows me the details of the disk:

To protect an external disk or any other removable media, simply plug it in and turn on the Recovery Vault. If it’s a flash drive or a removable disk you use to transport files between computers, the Recovery Vault will automatically protect it if Disk Drill is installed on them.

Unlike other file systems, HFS and HFS+ developed by Apple don’t have an effective way to restore deleted data. Once the data is gone, the only way to recover it is binary reading of hard drive sectors. While this is exactly what recovery algorithms in Disk Drill do, as a result you can only recover the file itself, but all its properties are gone: no original filename, no location, etc, which makes it difficult to find the right file after it’s restored.

And this is where Recovery Vault technology comes in – it remembers all the original properties of the deleted items and makes it possible to easily recover this data later on. The technology does not guarantee that every file will be recovered, since nobody can predict when certain data is overwritten by the file system drivers and thus becomes impossible to restore. But, it certainly increases recovery chances.

To restore files, switch the software to its “Recover data” mode by pressing the top-left button.

Choose the partition you want scanned, which type of data the software should search for and choose an option.

Undelete from Recovery Vault is fast and works with disks that have it enabled. Quick scan is less precise and recovers from working disks only. Deep scan is slow, signature-base and recovers from any mountable media. Backup into DMG-image can be used when a disk is failing and you want to recover as much data as possible – the disk image is mounted for a final deep scanning and recovery.

Once all that can be recovered is found, you can pick and choose which files you want restored and where do you want them restored.

Simply tick them off and press the “Recover” button:

In the software’s preferences, you can reset Recovery Vault data, choose which file types Disk Drill will work with, choose which disks will be hidden to avoid cluttering, whether you want your disk monitored for hardware issues, and set up a master password that will prevent unauthorized access to the software.

DiskDrill is easy to use and effective as much as it can be. Personally, I back up a lot and am not trigger-happy when it comes to deleting files or a compulsive “Trash” emptier, so I wouldn’t consider it necessary. Although, the “Backup into DMG-image” feature does seem handy when your disk is failing…

You can download a basic version of the Disk Drill for free, but some of the options are off limits.

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