If I had a dime for every time a client accidentally deleted a file . . . Well, I actually do have a dime for every time a client did that. It’s incredibly stressful to think you’ve lost valuable data, special photos or essential emails. You look in the recycle bin, and they are nowhere to be found. You can now shake it off and take a deep, cleansing breath. The files may still be there. Just don’t write anything else to your disk just yet. Your hard drive is only hiding the files you deleted. It won’t actually erase it. Instead, it will overwrite it when your computer needs more hard disk space for data storage. So don’t go crazy creating new files just yet. Stop. Right now. Remember, you’re supposed to be de-stressing.
There are several programs out there to help you recover deleted files. Be careful because some include malicious software. Malware creators can smell your fear of losing files just as surely as sharks smell blood, which makes recovery programs a perfect place to hide bad code. Certainly, you’ll want to check your installation program with anti-virus software before running the install.
Not too long ago, I had to install and use a file recovery program for a client who lost his whole computer system. I found and successfully used Recuva by Piriform. Recuva does a good job of cataloging deleted files. You can choose which drive to scan, whether it should look for pictures, emails or other types of files, and then which ones to restore. Pretty much, that’s what you’ll want and need in a file recovery program.
The main thing is don’t panic and don’t keep saving data to your computer. Ideally, the hard drive you need to recover files from should be removed from your computer and put in a hard drive cage so that there’s no risk of overwriting the files. If you have to install Recuva after you’ve already deleted files, you could risk overwriting those files.
If deleting files is a big concern, a good preventive measure is to install Recuva now and have it available if you need it.
Of course, a file recovery program is no substitute for a good backup system. Hard disks are mechanical — they literally have a disk inside that spins — and mechanical things have a limited lifespan. If your drive is malfunctioning, a simple file recovery may not work. So, always back up your important files. Always.