Recovering Deleted Files After The Bin Is Emptied

by Rod Dunne on November 11, 2010

in Data Recovery

Recovering Deleted Files After The Bin Is Emptied
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Recovering deleted files is now considered one of the easier computer maintenance and repair tasks that most individuals can do for themselves. Here, we explain the technicalities of how these software applications can actually recover deleted files or lost data which you thought had been wiped from memory.

Recommended software to recover deleted files

  • Remo Undelete: FAT/NTFS support, All Windows OS; Free trial scan.

Remo Undelete | PC Maintenance Software | Click Here For A Free Scan

The basics of data storage, and therefore data deletion

Some people would be surprised to realize that deleting a file will not actually remove it from the hard drive memory. It will reside there until such times as it is overwritten with newly stored documents.

The contents of each individual file are saved on the hard drive memory as data clusters in numerous locations around the hard drive platter. The clusters are associated with your file using an index reference in the file allocation table. This system document keeps a note of all the directories and documents on your hard drive partition and is used by Windows Explorer to display files/folders.

Each file index reference in the FAT also keeps a note of what directory/folder your file is to be displayed in (i.e. when displayed in Windows Explorer).

What happens when you recover deleted files from recycle bin folders?

When a file is deleted and sent to the recycle bin then the associated data clusters do not actually move anywhere on the hard drive memory. It is only the file allocation table which is altered. The index reference for your file is updated to state that the directory attribute should point at the recycle bin (which explains why your file now appears in the recycle bin folder in Windows Explorer).

When you use the restore functionality to recover deleted files from recycle bin directories then the directory attribute in the FAT is simply reverted back to its previous value.

What happens when you use software to recover deleted files from hard drive partitions after the bin is emptied?

Once the recycle bin is emptied, the deleted files will have their index reference in the FAT updated to state that there are new directory attribute is the ‘Recycled’ folder. This folder is not visible within Windows Explorer so its contents are generally invisible to human users of the PC. At this point, you have to use data recovery software to locate your files.

Data recovery applications are able to recover deleted files from hard drive sectors quite simply by reading the file allocation table to identify any file indexes with the ‘Recycled’ directory attribute. This index also tells the application the address of the clusters on the hard drive memory which can then be simply cloned onto an external hard disc for you.

Some top tips about recovering deleted files

  • If you are installing a date recovery tool after deleting files then use a second partition or external storage device. Do not use the same directory/partition that the deleted files as this may overwrite your lost data.
  • Always save the recovered files on to a second partition/external HDD as saving it back onto the same partition could overwrite the originals in mid-process.
  • Clusters belonging to deleted files are flagged to the OS as available to reuse and will eventually be overwritten with continued use of the PC. Therefore, the best chance of recovery is soon after the document was deleted.
  • Hard drives that are reaching full capacity will accelerate their use of clusters belong to deleted documents for virtual memory. This will cause your data to be lost forever more rapidly. So, keep 10% disk space free at all times to reduce the chances of this happening.
  • Disk defragmenters and bad sector repair tools will re-factor clusters on the disk and overwrite empty/available-for-reuse clusters. This will make recovering deleted files much less successful.

Tools for recovering deleted files

  • Remo Undelete: FAT/NTFS support, All Windows OS; Free trial scan.

Remo Undelete | PC Maintenance Software | Click Here For A Free Scan

Related posts:
How to recover data from crashed hard drive partitions.
How to recover lost files.

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