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Help, I’ve deleted and I don’t back up! How to recover deleted files

January 1, 2003

in All Articles,Backup,Encryption and data

Today is Opposite Day. Instead of saving important programs, we’re deleting them. Your spreadsheet with tax information is gone. The photo archive from the New Year’s Eve party is toast. There goes the document you’ve been typing for the last few days. All our important files, mercilessly flushed down an uncaring electronic drain.

There’s a problem: Today is Opposite Day, but tomorrow isn’t! Tomorrow we’ll need those important deleted files. Due to an accident, someone else’s mistake, or a contrived “Opposite Day”, we’ve deleted files we meant to keep. How can we recover files we’ve deleted?

Microsoft Windows Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin is a trash-can-like icon on your desktop. Double click this to access recently deleted files and folders. If the item you want to recover is visible, then right-click on it and choose “Restore”. It will be restored to the place from which you originally deleted it.

Problems with the Windows Recycle Bin include large files, and those deleted from a networked location. Neither type is supported, but the files you see in the Recycle Bin have an excellent chance of being recovered.

If you’re trying to recover a file unavailable in the Recycle Bin, things become more complex, and you’ll need specialized software to help you.

PC Inspector’s File Recovery

The File Recovery software scans your drive for deleted files and folders. You may be able to recover files that were recently deleted, or those that have been gone for months or longer. If you’re luckily, it may find entire files. It may find pieces and parts you’ll need to reconstruct, or it may find nothing. At the very least, you get more than your money’s worth: The File Recovery software is free.

Disk Investigator

This is a very low-level software package that lets you view and recover lost data on your hard drive. For use by more experienced (or daring) techie types. Disk Investigator is free.

Data Recovery Services

What if software doesn’t work? What if your computer isn’t even functioning and you need your information? Enter the realm of techno-babbly phrases, like “bit-level analysis” and “boot sector repair”. “Data Recovery Services” is a term that encompasses all types of information retrieval. It’s very labor intensive and expensive, and results are greatly dependent on your hardware and your specific problem. Accidentally deleting a file is far different than spilling hot sauce on your computer’s hard drive (trust me). Check your neighborhood computer store first, as some types of data recovery are pretty easy when they seem catastrophic. But for the real problems, you’ll need to go to the pros, like the folks at Seagate’s Data Recovers Service.

An ounce of backup is worth a pound of deletions

We’ll put the most important one last: Make a backup of your important information. It’s an easy and cheap way to prevent needing any of the solutions above. Read on for backup device recommendations.

Since today is still Opposite Day, the information here is of no help whatsoever. Tomorrow, though, you may change your mind.

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