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Recover Deleted Files and Data

Can Deleted Files and Data be Recovered?

Can purposefully or accidentally deleted files and data be easily recovered? The short answer to this question is yes on some operating systems, no on others and probably not if the space on the disk or media where the file was stored has had a new file written onto it. So now for the long answer.

Most file systems only remove the link to the data when the file is deleted. In practical terms this means that the file still exists and is intact on your hard drive, there is simply no reference to it and the blocks that the file is written on are marked as empty and available for use. If the file you wish to recover has only just been deleted your chances of recovering it are quite high providing you act quickly. As the blocks on the disk are now considered by the operating system to be available your data may be overwritten and the ability to recover it relatively easily is lost.

In the event that a file or data is accidentally or even maliciously deleted keep a level head. Try to minimise disk write operations by closing all the programs the computer is running. Definetely dont install any programs or suddenly decide to defragment your hard drive as this may overwrite your data.

Most desktop operating systems do not allow you to directly delete a file in their default configuration unless it is above a certain size, when you delete a file it is usually moved to a special folder instead. Many operating systems have this feature, in Windows it is called the Recycle Bin, in Mac OS it is called the Trash Can and even Linux distributions targetting the desktop user market may have a hack applied allowing this feature. Check your Recycle Bin, Trash or whatnot and see if the lost file is in there first. If it is simply use the restore feature to return the file or data to a usable state.

If the data you wish to recover is not in the Recycle Bin, Trash Can or whatever mechanism your operating systems uses to protect you from accidental file deletion it may not be lost yet. There are many excellent programs available at a modest price that can be used to recover data from your hard drive that has been deleted but not yet overwritten. Your next course of action would be to acquire one of these programs that is suitable for the operating system that you use, install it and attempt to recover your data with it. If you have a single disk with a single disk partition there is some risk that you will overwrite your data installing the program that you would use to recover it. If there is a lot of available space on your disk the risk is not as high as a disk that is running out of space and you would have to be very unlucky however it is still a possibility. Consider installing the data recovery program on a different computer if one is available and install the disk as a second disk onto this machine and recover your data from there.