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How to recover accidentally deleted files


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#1 ckgni

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 23:26

Till today I have been not few times in the situation where I had erased accidentally one or more files, even from my recycle bin... and probably there is an unwritten law that says that if you gonna need more one file, it will be a file that you had deleted accidentally.

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! :o ). 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.



#2 vetgigapixels

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 23:28

Another great product to try is Recuva (from the same people who make CCleaner), apparently it works very well. I can't say from experience as I have luckily never been in the situation where I've needed to recover files, but from what I've heard it does a great job.

#3 RedDevil99

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 00:17

Good post, thanks for sharing.

#4 rustix

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 15:12

awesome... been looking for a replacement for FileScavenger.. somehow it doesn't find any of deleted files anymore :( any idea why??

#5 Quad Master

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 11:40

I use FreeUndelete

FreeUndelete is data recovery program for deleted files.

In case of accidental deletion of files on a NTFS (used by default in Windows XP, 2000 and NT), FAT32 or FAT16 file systems FreeUndelete is the utility to help.

Posted Image

Link : http://www.officerec...m/freeundelete/

#6 Jyang

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 11:47

I've used sleuthkit which is a collection of UNIX-based tools because I generally use Linux and *BSD system. For Windows there is also Photorec http://www.cgsecurit...g/wiki/PhotoRec

#7 imis

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 04:23

i will try it.

#8 Evolution

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 18:03

Just an update from my previous experiences. Recuva is a horrible piece of software and takes hours to find anything if you're lucky. I also tried Undelete Plus and PC Inspector File Recovery, both working poorly.

The only decent recovery program for most files I've found is PhotoRec (http://www.cgsecurit...g/wiki/PhotoRec) combined with PhotoRec sorter afterwards (http://builtbackward...hotorec-sorter/). The program managed to recovery pretty much all my files, even ones from months ago in just one hour for a 100 GB harddrive. While the name implies recovery of photos, it will actually recovery just about any file type, including the new microsoft xml file types, from almost any media. The program supports both Linux and Windows partitions, and even supports new filesystems such as exFAT.

#9 +ChuckFinley

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 15:51

Google "Recuva" Best program ive ever used and its free.

#10 joyntkid

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 15:58

Google "Recuva" Best program ive ever used and its free.


You do realize that was posted in the FIRST reply to the OP right? :D

#11 Joni_78

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 15:00

I just deleted 1500 Gb blu-ray back ups. I googled "neowin recover deleted file" and found freeundelete from this thread. I was able to recover all with it, it had a option to run the program without installing which was a nice feature. All and all it took me 15 minutes to get those files back.

#12 ]SK[

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 13:27

+1 for Recuva

#13 AR556

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 13:28

I didn't read the whole post, but if you're running Windows 7, you could right-click on the directory the files were located in and select Previous Versions. From there you can browse shadow copies of those files and pick which ones you want to restore.

#14 moloko

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 06:25

I use Recuva too. but make sure if you try to recover as soon as possible. I deleted some important files and found they were overwritten before i could recover them :(