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How to recover deleted or lost files

How to recover deleted or lost files – It’s a sickening feeling, the moment you realise that some important document, or irreplaceable photos have vanished from your computer. There is no need to panic when your disk drive fails, or you cannot find an important file. This article describes the common reasons for losing data, and the what the best ways are to recover those files. There is a good chance, that the data file is still present , even if you know you deleted it from the folder it was in. What really happens is that your computer operating system just does not know how to find it any more. The location data of the file has been assigned so that other new files can use that space if they need it.

But let’s start with what the four most common reasons for data loss are:

  1. Deletion.

This is the most common reason for data loss. You deleted the file by accident during a disk clean-up, or because you thought it was no longer required. It is not in the Recycle Bin, as you emptied it to get some space back. However, like I mention earlier, the data will still exist until the space it occupied on the disk is re-used by another file.


  1. Overwriting.

You saved a new file over the top of the old one. You most like either forgot to change the file name , before saving or you realised that you made a mistake and the old version was what you needed. I have lost count of how many times that has happened to me.  However, the old data may still exist, and you may be able to recover it.


  1. File system corruption.

The disk suddenly appears empty, or the file and folder names contain gibberish. The files probably still exist, but the pointers to them have been lost or corrupted and the operating system cannot find them. You don’t need to worry, the files are still there it just going to take time for you to fix the issue, so that the OS can read it again.


Why not take the 6 Steps You Can Take To Speed Up Your Computer’s Performance


  1. Physical damage or hardware failure.

This is the worst kind. I have had tyo deal with this type so many time over the years, but still every time it happens I just drop my head and think ‘Why now?’. You may receive error messages when you try to read the disk , or it is not recognised by the computer at all. The data is still likely to be present on the disk itself, but the drive is incapable of accessing it.

It could be a hardware fault or a software one. This type of file lost is the hardest to deal with if you really need the files on the disk. I have spent hours trying to recover the data from HDD 80% of the time I get it done, but the other 20%. Well you just have to admit to yourself that it isn’t coming back.


hard drive


In each case, there is a good chance that the data still exists. The computer operating system isn’t able to see it, but data recovery software may be able to help you get it back. If the problem is a hardware failure, then a data recovery service may be able to get back the data using special equipment. This is generally beyond your normal home techy person, as the equipment can be expensive. But to start with on the path of data recovery, we have to –

Prepare for the data recovery

There is one cardinal rule of data recovery, that you must at all cost stick to otherwise you will dead in the water:

For the best chance of recovering the files you must not write any new data to the disk, that stored the data in the first place.

The old data will only remain on the disk until the space it occupied is used by another file. If the disk is your computer’s main drive, then the drive is being written to all the time. You should turn off the computer immediately and use another computer to search for a solution to recover your data.

Next, you should put the computer’s hard disk in another computer. This will allow you to do the data recovery or use data recovery that runs from a CD or floppy disk. Remember the cardinal rule

For the best chance of recovering the files you must not write any new data to the disk, that stored the data in the first place.

That right, installing the data recovery software on the same drive could overwrite the very data you want to recover.

Choosing the data recovery method

Data recovery tools use different methods to try to recover data. Some tools are designed for recovering deleted files, others are better at restoring overwritten files, or recovering files from disks that are physically damaged. Some data recovery software products have been developed specifically for recovering photo images, or Microsoft Word or Excel document files. Such products may succeed where others fail because they understand what these files look like and can recognise their data when other clues to its existence have vanished.

Microsoft have a system call ‘Previous Version’ which is in the ‘Properties’ of that folder. This will allow to restore to a certain point in time for that folder. But if you have not enabled it on your OS this will not work. My advice for the future, if you have Windows enable this feature.

For all the Mac users, Apple have the time capsule, but for this you need an external hard disk of their Apple Time Capsule

With all the option out there, it can be difficult to choose the most appropriate data recovery method. But sometimes you need enterprise grade software. Which means that you will have to call a special service, that do data recover. But, below is my 4 top free software’s that you can use for data recover at home with no cost:


And for both Mac and Windows users there is Disk Drill, which also has a pro version available:

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