Rescuing Deleted Files

By: James Walsh

The average user may panic on finding that a file has been accidently deleted and even the recycle bin has been deleted. It helps to know what happens to these deleted files, so we are aware that they reside, in an unspecified place and can be retrieved.

What Happens to Deleted Files

Ironically, though the most common occurrence is data loss, it is the most difficult task to erase data completely. When data needs to be erased permanently for security reasons, every sector on a disk has to be rewritten. Therefore, one might wonder what happens to these deleted files that we don't seem to be able to re-access.

The operating system does not actually erase the contents of the deleted files, even though it might appear so. What actually happens is, only the file's index in the Master File Table is erased. The essential information is still on the disk and can be retrieved.

When a file or folder is stored on a computer, the contents therein are stored in two places. The index details like file name, size and date of creation are stored in the Master File Table. The contents on the other hand are stored in the free space area of the disk or file clusters. When we think we are deleting a file, we only remove it from the file table which shows the space as free.

Emptying the Recycle Bin

A common user might assume that having emptied a recycle bin, files have been permanently lost. The files do exist though and can be recovered. The hard disk is comprised of platters that are divided into sectors. The data we create is stored on the disk magnetically. A read/ write head writes the information on these platters. Whenever data is written, a record is maintained about which sector it exists in.

When the Recycle Bin has been emptied, the operating system discards the record of where it is stored and not the contents itself. Not having the record might make it difficult to find the data but if we search the data will be there.

Retrieving the Data

Now that we know that data doesn't get erased even if we empty the Recycle bin by mistake, we can look at how it can be retrieved. However, a user must understand that retrieving a file is a tricky business as the operating system sometimes has a mind of its own. The first thing to do when one realises that one has deleted a file is to stop using the computer. This is because we do not want the operating system to overwrite any of the deleted files.

It would be ideal if the hard disk can be detached from the computer and attached to a secondary drive of a different computer. This is a more secure way of recovering the deleted files. There are many recovery tools that one can use to recover the data. Handy Recovery is a utility that has received good reviews as a dependable data recovery tool.

A well-known software, ARAX Disk Doctor, is a data recovery software but is usually used to restore partitions. Get Data Back is a highly advanced software, that can be used to recover data when a root directory is corrupt, there has been a virus attack or files have been accidently deleted.

Choosing DIY Recovery Software

Running DIY Recovery software should be able to get the deleted data back. There are several products available in the market to suit every budget and every need. Searching the internet will throw up several options for one to choose from. If the choice makes one confused, it is best to check out the companies who seem to offer the best step-by-step guide. Also, one should check for guarantees attached to the software that is sold.

If one is not entirely sure, instead of downloading the software, one can visit a store. The sales person might be able to guide a person to select the best recovery software for a particular need. Also, this is a better way to get a guarantee and a detailed explanation of how the software works.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier in the article, losing data permanently is actually a tough task. However, having said that, a badly done recovery job leads to a permanent data loss. Therefore, for a user who is a complete novice, it might be a good idea to call in a professional to recover the data. If a user is fairly adept, then recovering the data is just a matter of using DIY software and carefully following the instructions.

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