So this important file has disappeared and now we need it urgently. What do we do?
Fortunately, the way that most file systems work, don't exactly delete a file from a hard disk when we click the "magic" delete command, but actually the file is marked as deleted in the allocation table of the file system. This happens even if we delete the file from the recycle bin. The allocation table markers just say the the file is not needed any more and that other data can be written on its place.
What does it mean? That for several minutes after we delete a file, its data remain on the hard disk. And if we don't use enough our hard drive, the place where this file was stored may not be overwritten even after some days or months.
This is where the most file recovery tools do the work: they try to find data that still exist on the hard drive, although the files that these data belong to, have been marked as deleted. Then they restore the file by marking the file as existent again, in the allocation table of the file system and... voila we can use the deleted file again.
Due to my experience with lots of accidentally deleted or lost files, I have used several programs for recovering them:
- File Scavenger ($49)
- PC Inspector File Recovery (Freeware)
- InstantFileRecovery ($2)
Between them, I found slightly better working the last one (InstantFileRecovery). It is available at a very low price, so I decided to give it a try, although I had some thoughts that low price could mean low quality... wrong. It did a great job yesterday, when my little cousin deleted the whole folder with my work's documents (of course I will not let him sit in front of my computer again, at least not for the next months! ). It restored all the files that the folder contained, when File Scavenger managed to find almost the half of them and PC Inspector File Recovery only... 5.
Anyway, in some situations one program may work better and in some other cases another one of them may do a better work. So it is always a good idea to have 2 or 3 recovery programs, just to be sure.
Practically, the way these programs work in order to recover deleted files is very similar. Typically you run the application, you select the hard disk or partition where your deleted files were stored and you hit the search button. After some minutes (total scan time depends on the size of your hard disk) it will display a list of deleted files that have been found and can be restored. You select the files and then you select the folder where you want them to be restored.
That was all! The files are there again and you are happy... but next time be careful!
Edited by ckgni, 04 March 2008 - 01:31.