How do I recover deleted files?

1. Understanding How to Recover Deleted Files

Recovering deleted files is possible in most cases, depending on how and when the files were deleted. It’s important to understand, however, that file recovery is not always possible, particularly if certain system processes have already been completed. When a file is deleted, it is usually moved to the computer’s Recycle Bin or Trash. It can be recovered by restoring the file from the bin. If the file is not in the bin, it may still be possible to recover it, though more advanced methods may need to be employed. The following sections will explain basic file recovery methods and when more advanced methods should be used.

2. Restoring Files from the Recycle Bin/Trash
If a file has only just been deleted, it is likely the file will still be in the computer’s Recycle Bin or Trash. To restore the file from the bin:

• Open the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac)
• Find the file to be restored
• Right-click on the filename and select ‘Restore’
• The file will be restored to its original location on the computer

Note that restoring a file from the bin will not affect other data stored on the computer.

3. Recovering Deleted Files Without the Recycle Bin
If the file was deleted before being moved to the Recycle Bin or Trash, or if the file was deleted from the bin, it may still be possible to recover the file.

• Use a file recovery program such as Recuva (Windows) or Data Rescue (Mac). These programs can often recover deleted files. Depending on the program that is used, the user may be prompted to enter additional information about the deleted file, such as its type or location.

• Check for a backup of the file. Many computers come with an automatic backup feature that saves copies of files periodically. If the file was backed up recently, it may be possible to restore an earlier version of the file.

• If the computer is part of a network, it is possible that the file may be stored on a different computer on the network. Check other computers on the network to see if the file is present.

4. More Advanced File Recovery Techniques
In some cases, more advanced techniques may be needed to recover deleted files.

• Look for files in unallocated space. When a file is deleted, the space it previously occupied on the hard drive is marked as unallocated; this means the space is now ‘open’ for use by other files. File recovery programs can often search for and recover files in unallocated space.

• Check for shadow copies. Shadow copies are copies of files that are automatically generated at certain intervals by the computer. It is possible to access these copies and recover deleted files.

• Try using disk imaging software. This type of software “clones” the hard drive in order to create an image of it. The image can then be searched for deleted files.

5. Deleted File Prevention
Although deleted files can usually be recovered, it is generally easier to avoid deleting files in the first place. In Windows, the user can choose to enable the Recycle Bin, which stores deleted files until they are permanently deleted. Additionally, users should regularly back up important files to external media such as CDs, DVDs, and USB flash drives, which can then be used to restore files in the event of accidental deletion.