Recovering Deleted Documents
What do you do if you or someone else has deleted your recent work? The first place to look for a deleted document is Windows Recycle Bin. But what if the file is not there? What if the Recycle Bin is completely disabled or emptied just before you catch up?
Don’t panic! You can still recover your recent work if you use proper tools.
Now, stop! Don’t go any further until you read this: do not use the hard disk, and, if possible, the computer that holds the deleted documents! I mean, don’t touch anything and don’t do anything at all if possible. Use a different PC, a separate hard drive, a memory card or USB flash drive to download and install the deleted document recovery tool you’re about to use. Don’t reboot or turn off the PC, as that can damage your deleted documents. Don’t browse the Internet, as temporary Internet files can overwrite your work. In a word: don’t touch it!
Before you begin, there’s a little theory to go about the deleted files. While this information is not an absolute necessity for recovering deleted documents, and you may simply skip to the next section if you’re in a hurry, it is always good to know what’s happening under the hood.
Why are you able you recover deleted documents?
Knowing exactly how Windows treats the deletion will help you better understand the process of recovering deleted documents and maximize your chances of a successful recovery.
When you delete a document, it is not getting erased off the hard drive completely. Instead, space occupied by that file is marked as being available, increasing the free space on your hard drive. This has nothing to do with the contents of the file! The deleted document is still there, on your hard drive, ready to be recovered if you claim that ‘available’ space to belong to the original file.
There are numerous tools on the market, including a handful of free ones, which do exactly that: scan the file system for file names marked as ‘deleted’, and cancel the deletion. While this approach can save the recently deleted documents, it won’t help you at all if there are complications. If Windows writes anything onto the space on the hard disk that belongs to the deleted file, the simple and dirty undeletion trick won’t do any good. Instead, you’ll get data corruption, and will have to run the much more complex disk recovery process that you’ve initially planned to.
So, stay away from the untested free stuff. You know where the ‘free’ belongs to.