Recover From File Deletions

By: Suhaimi Baruddin

File deletions is the easiest and one of the more common ways to lose a file. Deleting a file (or even formatting even) is a fairly common occurrence and is not fatal mistake on its own. Deleted files by default will go to the recycle bin first, so if you are missing any files, just check your recycle bin.

However, the problem arises when you have emptied the recycle bin OR pressed shift +del to permanently delete the file (like I always do). When this happens, you have no way of retrieving the data through conventional methods. (Double-clicking, open file and so on.

There is, however, some chance of you getting back the data. Hence, this article exists. To recover (this word will appear many times in this article) the data, you need specialised software, another computer, and much, much luck.

Oh, and stop using the computer. Using the computer after you lose data on it will affect your chances of recovery. You run into the chance of accidentally overwrite the data and lose any chance of recovering data.

Setup

First you need to remove the hard disk (the one with the deleted data), connect it to another computer and set it as a secondary/slave drive.

Why do you need to do this though?

As I mentioned earlier, you need to avoid using the computer (the hard disk actually) so that you actually have the chance to get back the data that you lost. You'll see why later.

Software

Remember that you need to attach the hard disk as a secondary/slave drive? If you haven't done it, do so now! After you have done that, you need specialised data recovery software to help you recover the data that you just deleted. I'm using ADRC's data recovery tools software, as it is free (and it works well too!). Download it at this location:

Data Recovery Tools

Download, unzip and double-click on the program icon. The ADRC data recovery tools application should open. No installation is required.

Create Disk Image

Creating a disk image file, while not really necessary, gives you an extra buffer. If anything happens during the recovery phase, you can always fall back on the original disk as it remains untouched from when it first lost data.

Once you have ADRC data recovery tools is running, open the "image backup/restore" tab option. To do this, under the tools menu, select "image backup/restore". Then, click the "Create Image from Disk" radio button.

Click the browse button under "Image File" and choose a suitable file name before saving (such as data.img). Don't choose weird files names with symbols and such only later to forget what you named the file as. Under "Image Disk", select the drive you want to create the image from, i.e.; the drive that you have lost data on. Then click the transfer button and wait for the imaging process to finish.

Remember that you must never ever save the image file to the same drive as the one you lost data on. That'd be suicide.

Recovery Phase

With imaging and backup done, we can finally proceed to the recovery phase.

We are still going to use ADRC data recovery tools software. This time however, select "undelete" instead of "image backup/restore" under "tools" tab. Select the image file (data.img in this case) that you created before and click "search". After this, there will be a long and agonising wait for the process to finish. With luck, the file you need and deleted can be found in the list.

Select the files (to select many files, press ctrl and click) that you need. This is a potentially tedious process as there may be many files which you do not need populating the list. Persevere! You need the files! Once you have selected the files, simply click the "Undelete Files" button. You will then be prompted to specify a location to save the files.

And there you have it! As long as you do not do anything (much) to the hard disk, you should have no problems in recovering the files you need.

Data Recovery
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