How do I recover lost songs?

Losing your music library can be devastating. Maybe your external hard drive crashed or your phone was stolen. Perhaps you accidentally deleted your iTunes folder. Whatever the reason, losing years of collected music is a huge bummer.

The good news is, there are several ways to recover lost songs, depending on what happened to them. With some effort, you can rebuild your music collection.

How to Recover Songs Deleted from Your Computer

If you’ve accidentally deleted music files from your computer, don’t panic. Deleted files aren’t erased instantly – they still exist on your drive until the space they occupied is written over with new data.

This gives you a window of opportunity to recover deleted files before they’re lost forever. Here are some ways to rescue deleted music from your computer:

  • Restore from Recycle Bin – If you’ve just deleted files, first check your Recycle Bin. Anything in there can easily be restored.
  • Use file recovery software – Programs like Recuva, TestDisk, and Photorec scan your drives and pull deleted files back from the brink.
  • Restore from backup – If you have another copy of your deleted music in a backup drive or cloud service, you can just copy it back to your main drive.

The sooner you act after deletion, the better your chances of recovery. Don’t install any new programs or save new files until your deleted music is restored, as this will overwrite deleted data.

Best File Recovery Software

If you don’t have a backup, your best bet is file recovery software. Here are some top options:

Program Platform Free Version
Recuva Windows Yes
TestDisk Windows, Mac, Linux Yes
Photorec Windows, Mac, Linux Yes

Recuva is very easy to use. TestDisk and Photorec are more complex but work on more operating systems. All offer free versions to recover deleted files.

How to Recover Songs Lost Due to Hardware Failure

If your music files disappeared because a hard drive crashed or phone went kaput, recovery gets trickier. But don’t give up hope! You may still be able to rescue your tunes.

Recover Files from a Dead or Damaged Hard Drive

If your hard drive stops working, all is not lost! Here are some tips:

  • Repair the drive – Try running Disk Utility (Mac) or CHKDSK (Windows) to fix drive errors.
  • Remove the drive and use an enclosure – Take the drive out and plug it into an external enclosure to see if it’s detectable.
  • Send it to a data recovery pro – For serious hardware issues, pros have specialized tools to extract data.

If you can get the drive working again, you can then use file recovery software to restore deleted music files that weren’t overwritten.

Recover Files from a Dead Smartphone

If your phone is kaput, you have a couple options:

  • Phone data recovery service – Pros have special tools to access phone memory chips and pull data even from dead phones.
  • Restore from your last backup – If your music was synced to a cloud service like iCloud or Google Photos, you can download it to a new phone.

How to Recover Songs Lost from a Reformatted Drive

Reformatting a drive erases all its data. But recovery is still possible if nothing new has been saved since reformatting.

When a drive is reformatted, the actual music files aren’t wiped – just the “map” telling where they are. File recovery software scans for these lost files.

The best free tool for recovering reformatted data is TestDisk. Follow these steps:

  1. Download and install TestDisk on a separate drive from the reformatted one.
  2. Run TestDisk and select the reformatted drive to scan.
  3. Select “Proceed” to begin scanning the drive for recoverable data.
  4. Once scanning completes, TestDisk will show you found files to recover. Select the music files you want to restore.
  5. Choose a folder on another drive to save the recovered music.

As long as nothing new was saved to the reformatted drive, there’s an excellent chance of getting your music library back.

Recovering Songs from a Restored or Upgraded Computer

If your computer was restored to factory settings or the operating system was upgraded, don’t worry – your music isn’t necessarily gone for good.

Recovering Music After Restoring to Factory Settings

If your computer was reset to factory conditions, the original files are still there, though they may be hidden. Here’s how to bring them back:

  1. Search your drive for file types related to music – MP3, WAV, OGG, etc.
  2. Use recovery software to scan for deleted files.
  3. Check your Recycle Bin for any music files.

With some luck, you’ll be rocking out again in no time.

Recovering Music After an OS Upgrade

Upgrading your operating system usually won’t delete your personal files, including music. But if your music library seems to have vanished, try these steps:

  • Search thoroughly for music file types.
  • Scan with file recovery tools to uncover deleted tracks.
  • Check that your music software’s media folder is still pointed to the right location.

With some digging, there’s a decent chance your tunes will reappear.

How to Avoid Losing Music in the First Place

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to losing a music library. Here are crucial tips to keep your songs safe:

  • Back up your music – Always keep a copy on an external drive and cloud storage.
  • Store music on non-system drives – Keep your library on a secondary data drive, not the OS drive.
  • Be careful when deleting and reformatting – Double check that important music files aren’t getting wiped.
  • Manage your music with software – Use programs like iTunes to organize your library.

Follow best practices like these, and you hopefully won’t ever need to recover lost music again!

Recap: Top Ways to Recover Lost Songs

Here’s a quick recap on how to get your music back if disaster strikes:

  • Restore from Recycle Bin
  • Use data recovery software
  • Retrieve from backups
  • Send damaged drives to recovery pros
  • Scan reformatted drives with TestDisk
  • Dig through OS upgrades to uncover missing files

Don’t give up if your music collection gets lost. With the right tools and techniques, you can recover your missing songs and get back to the music you love.