How many times did you actually check your Mac's Trash before purging it? Not that many, admit it. We bet: more often than checking Trash, you've had the feeling of regret realizing you deleted a few important files by mistake. However, it is possible to bring back the files removed after you hit Empty Trash. No 100% guarantee, though. Learn how to perform a smooth file recovery and restore the deleted Trash items following this guide.
So, how to recover deleted files? It is a well-known fact that apps, files, and folders are recoverable from your Mac's Trash bin. All you have to do is go to the Trash, locate the item you have removed by mistake, right-click on it and choose Put Back. After that, the file will be restored to its original location. No need to worry while the files you removed are still in Trash — Mac OS X and macOS do not purge the files and folders immediately.
But what if you have already emptied the Trash? Is there a way to bring the files back if a terrible thing like this has happened?
It is possible to perform a file recovery procedure on Macs with hard disk drives (HDD). Chances are, you end up getting the files back. When the file is deleted on your Mac's HDD, actually only its title is removed but the file itself still rests in the hard drive clusters. Such files are recoverable until you write something new over the space they occupy on the disk.
Things are not as easy if you're using a MacBook Pro with a solid-state drive (SSD). Due to the SSD data management peculiarities, once the file is erased from your storage device, it becomes unrecoverable. The TRIM system in macOS informs an SSD about the unused data so that it can be wiped internally. Since the possibility of deleted file recovery is close to none, making regular backups on devices with SSD is crucial to avoid massive data loss.
It's important: once you have deleted important photos, a Word document, or emptied the Trash bin, stop using your Mac immediately! In case you are using a Mac with an HDD, avoid saving or creating new files to prevent the disk space where the files were stored from being overwritten. Try these solutions to take a chance on file recovery.
Thanks to the cloud storage technology, multiple devices sync with each other under a single user account. For instance, iCloud Drive allows syncing files on the available Apple gadgets used in a household. In case you have mistakenly deleted some items from your Mac, take your time to check if they are stored on other devices. The images can still be on your iPhone or SD card. Meanwhile, some work files can be saved on your 'Sent' mailbox, if you have shared them with your colleagues.
Using macOS Time Machine utility to make backups of important user data can be a godsend in the case of emergency. Most likely, the files you have purged are saved in the previous Time Machine backup. In the Apple menu, go to System Preferences → Time Machine to launch the utility and navigate to the location where the erased items are stored. To restore specific items, click the timeline to locate the file or folder by date and time, then select the item and click Space Bar for preview. Once you're sure it is the file you need, click Restore or Control-click the file to choose other options.
If none of the above options helps you restore the deleted items, there is one more solution to resort to. Third-party applications for data recovery can run an in-depth scan of your hard disk to locate the erased files in the drive directory. Be prepared that files may be recovered partially, and some of the data would be lost. Specific apps provided by third-party developers offer users the preview functionality to help users find the erased files.
There is nothing worse than losing irreplaceable user data! Making regular backups is the best way to prevent data loss or corruption on your Mac computer. Using the combination of Time machine and Apple Time Capsule will help you keep your data safe and sound. Purchasing iCloud Drive storage is another option to keep your data backups in order. If you're looking for cheaper solutions, try online cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive offering free plans. And last but not least try using external storage devices - this method seems to be even more reliable than cloud services.
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Requires MacOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or later