Retrieve Deleted Files: Simple Steps For Data Recovery

by Rod Dunne on November 4, 2010

in Articles, Data Recovery

Retrieve Deleted Files Using A Straight Forward Approach And Data Recovery Software
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Data recovery tools have made it possible for even novice PC users to retrieve deleted files quite easily. While this may be one of the easier computer repair and maintenance tasks you can do, there is no guarantee that these applications will be able to find your files 100% of the time. In fact, no application can guarantee this. In this article, we’ll show how to make the most effective use of software to recover deleted files.

Recommended data recovery utility

The PC Maintenance website recommend the following data recovery tool to restore deleted filesrecover corrupted files and find data from formatted partitions on internal hard drives, external HDD and USB Flash memory devices.

How is it even possible to retrieve deleted files?

Deleting a file never actually results in you being wiped off the hard drive memory straight away. Each document you store is saved as several data clusters dispersed around the hard disk memory. The file allocation table stores the list of all documents on your hard drive and keeps details of the associations between a document and the several clusters that represent its contents.

When you delete a file it is only the document reference in the file allocation table which is altered to remove the directory/folder attribute so that it is no longer visible in Windows Explorer. The associated data clusters are left just as they are, but crucially marked available to reuse the storage of any new data to the hard drive. Recovering deleted files weeks and even months after they were emptied from the recycle bin is often possible, but is completely dependent on how the operating system started reusing clusters belong to do these deleted files.

Data file recovery software works by reading the hard drive memory, locating these clusters and then reassembling them using the file allocation table as a reference.

Always try to retrieve deleted files from recycle bin directories first

Where possible, you should always try to retrieve deleted files from recycle bin folders as your first step, instead of using software. Simply select the files and choose ‘restore’ from the context menu to recover lost files back to their original directory.

NOTE: Make sure to check in the correct recycle bin as each partition will have its own (located in the root folder).

Factors affecting the success rate

No matter which data recovery tool you use to recover deleted files there are some key things you should keep in mind that can affect your chances of a successful recovery.

  • Always install data recovery tools in a partition separate from the partition in which your deleted file was located. If you install the program in the same partition then there is the possibility that the application files will overwrite the clusters belonging to your deleted documents.
  • Only choose data recovery tools that work in a read-only mode. The majority of applications to work in this capacity (i.e. they only read clusters on the disk, and make no attempt to reorder relocate them) but you may find some applications which can potentially move clusters which makes subsequent file retrieval more difficult. The two applications suggested at the top of this article both work in read-only modes.
  • A hard drive which is reaching full capacity will rapidly begin overwriting the old data clusters. The software used to administer files will generally try to use free space on the disk rather than resort to data clusters belong to the old deleted documents. However, as the disk drive approaches full capacity (i.e. over 90% full) the operating system will begin using any clusters marked available to reuse for the page file and virtual memory as well as other applications.
  • The chances of being able to restore deleted files decrease with the passage of time. Any use of the PC to run applications (which creates temporary files) or stored documents will result in new data being stored to disk which can potentially overwrite your files.
  • Running a disk defragmentation will instantly overwrite a large number of deleted files. Disk defragmenters are great tools for reconstituting fragmented documents into sequential memory sectors on the disk in order to speed up the file access times. The downside is that the programs use/overwrite any free clusters on the disk in order to cut down on the amount of fragmentation.
  • Do not clone documents back onto the same hard drive. Most applications will force you to copy the documents onto an external drive or burn them to CD. If your application allows you to copy them back onto the partition from which they were originally stored then there is the possibility of the cloned version overwriting the original clusters as the retrieval occurs.

Recommended Tools:

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

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

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