ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Recover Data That You Have Deleted Accidentally?

Updated on October 22, 2011

The term data recovery is not alien to us - from novices to pros, almost all of us at some point in time have accidentally deleted our data or have otherwise find it getting corrupted. The usual cure has been to call a techy friend with bunch of recovery tools at disposal or to take the PC or laptop to the nearest computer shop offering data recovery. Lets briefly see how exactly the data recovery tools work and what are the options available for a typical home user to recover their lost data.

To start with the basics, a file in Windows Operating System is collection of chunks that may be laid out at different locations on the hard disk. But for users and applications, the file appears to be one intact unit taking a particular amount of storage space. And when a file is deleted (from the Recycle Bin as well), the storage space it was occupying becomes available.

There must be some system to keep track of all such activities - this is called a File System, such as FAT and NTFS are two popular file systems that are available under Windows, and EXT2/3 are under Linux flavours. File systems keep lists or indexes of files and allows creation of folder structure that is displayed in Windows Explorer etc. When a file is deleted, instead of physically removing the file from hard disk, the file system simply removes the indexed information of that file.

Consequently, the file does not show up in the folder structure and its space becomes available for reuse - but the file still exists in the hard disk. Here is where recovery tools come into play.

But before data recovery can start, there are few precautions that must be taken to ensure safe data recovery.

First, immediately stop any programme that routinely interferes with the drive data, for example, anti-virus tools, firewalls tools creating logs etc. Second, the disk on which the data is lost - either due to deletion, corruption, formatting or loosing a partition - should be taken out of the computer or made non-bootable. This is essential because continuous activity may result in overwriting on the ‘free' spaces that may still hold the lost information.

Note that installing recovery tools can be catastrophic at this time, as it means disk usage due to installation which may be an overwriting activity. Even allowing computer to run can allow running processes to access ‘free' space and further erode the recovery chances. Next task is to make a copy of the disk if it is possible and third and final activity is actual data recovery which encompasses listing the recoverable files and reconstructing file system entries or if required, even the individual file headers. Recovery process can be made tough due to presence of long file names and encryption enabled file systems mostly in corporate environments.

Soft perfect file recovery
Soft perfect file recovery
Restoration
Restoration

Tools

Here a few free tools that can bring back files deleted using Shift+Delete from hard disk or from a USB disk. These tools were tested over a 1GB USB disk from which a Rich Text (RTF) file was deleted a week back and a text (TXT) file that was deleted only a few minutes before the test.

Soft perfect file recovery

This is a simple tool with Search and Restore buttons at the top and a search location dropdown along with file name filter box to further narrow down the search. File Recovery was able to list both the RTF and TXT files. The first letter of file names was not recovered and was replaced by ‘x' in both the cases. Recover option did recover the text file correctly, but the rich text file could not be opened even after recovery - apparently it was recovered but was corrupted.

The good thing about this programme is its speed. Even when scanning C drive, where hundreds of temporary type files are listed, the programme remains responsive while listing file path, file size, file attributes and creation date.

Restoration

One of the improvements in this free tool called Restoration is the progress bar when searching for deleted information. Number of files listed is also shown along with an option to include clusters used by other files and vacant clusters. Note that clusters are minimum units of storage in which file chunks are placed. This tool is also fairly quick and offers two more functionalities under the Others menu. These are Search All Clusters and Delete Completely - that is data shredding to make it un-recoverable.

Undelete plus

This free utility is more comprehensive than the other two discussed above. Pressing the top left Start button starts the scanning process shown with a progress bar the bottom along with auto updating file count. Using the left side pane, searched results can be grouped by drives, folders or types. This makes if very easy if user is looking for a particular type of file, say a shockwave file or an Excel file. The extra information this tool provides includes date created and modified and most importantly file status.

For the deleted rich text file tested, the tool shows Status as Overwritten - and probably that was the reason why it was not be recovered correctly earlier. Another useful option is that of setting filters. Specific dates of file creation can be defined, inclusion of temporary and overwritten files can be controlled along with modification, size and file name filters.

There are a number of other free data recovery tools available as well over the internet. The list includes :

With a support for over 15 file systems of six operating systems, this tool is a must have for support personnel and home users who experiment too much with disks and partitions.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      Thanks for this nice information. With the effective guidelines and suggestion you can readily recover lost data from memory device like pen drive, memory card etc. Some times you have to follow different procedures to retrieve the data.

    • Wrath Warbone profile image

      Terry Chestnutt 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      This is very clearly written, useful info. Thanks.

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR

      hassam 

      10 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks, hope you enjoy your holidays.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      We could all do with these tools in our repatior. Thanks for sharing this. Will have to check it out when get back from holidays.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)