Can I recover deleted files from my hard drive?

Question: I've heard of companies finding data that people thought they had deleted from their work computer. How do they do that? Might be good information in case I accidentally delete some important files from my home computer too!

Answer: Yes, there are several ways to retrieve data that has been deleted from a computer system, even if you've deleted them from the recycle bin or reformatted your hard drive.

I accidentally deleted a year's worth of family photos and financial documents on my wife's laptop, after using the factory restore CD that reinstalled Windows and removed her user folder where all the pictures were stored. Even after that mistake, I was still able to recover all of the files.

Why files can usually be recovered

When you delete a file, Windows only marks the file as deleted, but doesn't actually remove it from your system. Those files are only truly deleted (well, replaced actually) when other data is saved to the same location on your hard drive.

If you accidentally delete files from your system, they can usually be undeleted - even if you deleted them from your recycle bin - as long as you attempt to recover the files shortly after you delete them, and before Windows saves other data in those same file locations on your hard drive.

How to recover files that have been deleted

If you've accidentally deleted an important file or erased a folder containing files that you later realize you still need, chances are good that they're still on your system and can be recovered.

The key is to use a good undelete program like iRecover that can find files that have been deleted. You can take your computer to a data recover specialist and pay them a few hundred dollars to recover your data files, or you can spend less then $40 for a copy of iRecover and easily do it yourself.

I've tried a few different programs that claim to be able to do this, but have discovered that some of them are only able to show you what's still in your Recycle Bin (not much help if you've emptied your Recycle Bin).

iRecover is able to recover files that have been deleted from your Recycle Bin, and will also help you recover data that was lost because of file system corruption, formatting, virus damage, partition deletion, or even just plain user error.

Here's a link to download iRecover.

Recover files emptied from the Recycle Bin

Even if you've emptied your Recycle Bin, iRecover may still be able to recover some of those files (if not all of them). Here's a screenshot of iRecover that shows all of the files and folders it was able to recover after completely clearing out my Recycle Bin:

So don't panic if you've cleared out your Recycle Bin. Get a copy of iRecover and point it to the Recycle Bin folder. It will tell you what it can recover, so you'll know if it's worth paying for the licensed version.

An ounce of prevention

It's also a great idea to frequently backup your hard drive, so that you can still restore important files, even if they can't be recovered using a file recovery program. I bought a Seagate FreeAgent 320 GB USB External Hard Drive. This new drive plugs in via USB cable and doesn't require any installation or configuration. Windows automatically recognizes it when you plug in the USB cable, and it has plenty of space for backing up both of my home computers.

I also highly recommend that you backup your hard drive on at least a monthly basis, although weekly is even better. If you're looking for a good backup program for your home computer, I recommend Genie Backup Manager which I use for my home systems.

I consider myself fortunate to have been able to retrieve our family photos and financial documents... and my wife is finally willing to speak to me again. However, I'm hoping to avoid this whole scenario in the future by making regular backups to this new backup drive (at least weekly).

I brought this irecover program and used it on my external which the used it on my external and it got all the pictures back, but now when i try to up it it says, it does not suppose the formart or update the window gallery. which everything is updated and i can view my photos...please help me...all my photos are in jpg. from a camera...what do i do.

Hello Ricky:

I have accidentally reformatted the software in my laptop (HP G62, WINDOWS 7)
And now my computer is back to when i 1st bought it, all my pictures are gone
i dont care much about the programs cause i can always get it back again
but the pictures are gone! :(
I dont know where or how the back up thing works, OR If I did it, where are they?!!?
hp said is all gone, BUT many other forum users say THEY CAN BE RESTORED.

this is devastating, ive searched all websites you can imagine and calling HP is NO USE
specially since they dont wanna help you unless you give them your arm and leg!!!

pls help, i dont know what to do, many forums, sites say my files are not lost
and i can recover them, BUT HOW? no precise answers....
Im sure there is a way, but the question is, HOW?!

i greatly appreciate it

My main drive is not responding,how do i get my files in the My documents folder back?...please help me out.

My friend was trying to format his WD external hd which was connected to the same computer as mine and accidentally formatted my hd with a little over 1 tb of files.I need to find a program to recover them to the same location quickly and easily.I also need to know if recovery is done from the same computer or can I recover the drive from another one with a different OS?

Um. I can see that this thread is quite old, but it's the only chance I've got. I recently restored my laptop 2 days ago. And all the 'My Documents, Music, Video, etc.' did not seem to transfer to my external hard drive. I really need those files and the school year is starting soon. Help please?

Ricky sir,
accidently my external hard drive was formatted and in it i lost my around 200 gb data, please sir help me.

I did that, found the files, but now it's saying 'The installed license key does not support copying of the files in this recovery mode' so what does that mean? I'm not a computer nerd, gahhhh I don't know. I just really, really, reeeaallllllly, want these files back.

can i recover the data which was delete before 6 years
if so please help with any relevent software information

can we recover the data from hard disk which was deleted 3 years ago

I took my desktop to the local computer to get it repair, and they said everything in the hard drives is empty. They will able install a new hard drive.
I have taken out the old hard drives and hope to be able to recovery all the files. In my case, the hard drives are shows as empty. Will I be able to recover all my data?

i bought a new laptop transfered all my info then erased from old pc tried to install windows 7 but lost all my info can i retrieve it?

My files were on a USB flash drive...i accidently deleted them, how do i recover them??

Hi ,
I got a simple camera where I had recorded a wildlife video.
Accidentally someone in family deleted it & also shot more pictures / videos on the memory card.
Is there a way it can be recovered ? It was the precious moment of a tiger I shot.
I have tried all the freeware softwares I could find on google.
Please send a copy to my mail id as well if there is a solution.

I just recently CUT pictures from my laptop to my usb drive but lost my usb drive is there any chance those pics are still on my laptop???? Please say yes!!! :'''''(

The information detailed here is really good, one of the other software is Remo Recover which delivers each of the lost photos in few simple clicks...

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