Sooner or later it will happen to you, no matter how careful you try to be. You, or someone using your computer, will wind up deleting that uber-important file you’ve just got to have. The good news is, there’s at least a chance to get your badly needed data back. Here’s how.
First, Is It Really Gone?
The very first thing you should do is run a search of your entire computer for the file you think you’ve lost. This is because in at least some cases, it’s not gone at all, but simply accidentally got moved, and is no longer where you last had it. That happens more often than you might think, so before you get in too much of a panic, perform a search of your system to see if it’s just simply been misplaced. If so, problem solved, and you get to breathe a sigh of relief and go on about your day.
Missing, But Not Gone – At Least Not Immediately
When you press the delete key while you’ve got a file highlighted, it doesn’t actually get deleted. It gets moved to your computer’s Recycle Bin. That’s the first step in data recovery, and the very first place you should look in the event of an actual deletion.
Of course, there’s a way around the Recycle Bin. If you hold the Shift key down while pressing delete, the file will actually be deleted, and it will never make the trip to the Recycle Bin, and periodically, you’re probably emptying that location anyway, so it really might be gone. It’s still not time to panic yet though. There’s more you can do.
Recover From Backup
This is one of the reasons that backups are so important. Even given the importance of backups, only a minority of computer users actually bother with them, and that’s a pity. If you’re one of that minority of users, you’re in luck. It is overwhelmingly likely that you can go to your last backup, grab a copy of the file from there, put it back where it belongs, and be back in business with minimal headache. That’s great for the distinct minority who use backups, but if that’s not you, then you might be breaking out into a bit of a cold sweat. Hold off on the panic for a little while longer.
Once you have verified that the file really is gone, the best thing you can do for yourself, in order to increase the chances of getting the data back, is to stop working on your computer. Minimize the activities you’re performing. The reason for this is that the file is not yet gone, but it soon will be. By deleting the file, you’ve given your Operating System the green light to save new data in the location where the file was. It’s still recoverable, so long as no new data gets written to that location. When that happens, your chances drop to something quite close to zero.
Fortunately, there are a number of free tools you can use to recover files that are gone, but have not yet had their data location overwritten with new data. Some of the better free ones are below:
Undelete Plus (http://undeleteplus.com/ )Recuva (http://www.piriform.com/recuva )Restoration (http://www.snapfiles.com/get/restoration.html )
If none of these three tools work for you, then don’t hesitate to contact a specialist today. The tools they have are often more rebust than the free ones, and data that you can’t recover on your own is often recoverable by a professional. However, now’s still the time to make sure all of your data is backed up – sometimes even a professional can’t manage to recover important things that you’ll need if your systems go down.