How to Recover Deleted Files
By Nick Anderson 5 minutes
Have you ever accidentally deleted important files? Did you lose a storage device to a hardware failure that contained your most personal data? If yes, then this blog is for you. How to recover deleted files is one of the most common questions among computer users.
It’s not just limited to desktop computers or laptops. When we say computer users, we also include the little computing device in your pocket that is perhaps the most important device that you own. Use this blog as an essential guide to recover deleted files from your device.
How Data Can Be Recovered After Deletion
Contrary to what you believe, data can be recovered after it has been deleted. This is thanks to how storage works. Before you can learn how to recover lost data, you should understand how data is stored to know exactly what to do immediately after you delete something accidentally.
You can think of data on your storage as pages of a book. The file system in use serves as an index of that book. The index contains all the pointers the operating system needs to read the data. When you delete data, the file system simply removes the pointer from its index, leaving it inaccessible to the operating system. The data is still sitting on your storage, but the occupied space was marked as available by the file system when you deleted it from that sector.
This approach allows the process of deletion to be much faster. Simply removing the pointer to the location in the storage is faster than deleting the entire file. Deleting something like 50GBs from storage will take much longer.
This is how data recovery software is able to recover data. They scan the entire drives and report back and allow you to recover deleted files.
Can You Recover Data from SSD?
Solid-state drives are a type of storage that is much faster than hard drives. It is because solid-state drives don’t have moving parts like a hard drive that relies on mechanical parts to read and write data.
SSDs are not only faster but also resilient to fall damage. However, the very nature that makes them fast also makes it harder to recover data from SSD.
When you delete something from an SSD, it is erased instead of being marked for overwriting. Data inside the cells must be erased through an electrical signal before being written into. This is due to the TRIM protocol, which all modern SSDs use. Hence, recovering data from an SSD may be challenging or impossible for you.
How to Recover Deleted Files
The first thing you need to do after deleting any data is to stop everything you are doing immediately. If you want to have any hope of recovering lost data, you need to ensure that an activity does not overwrite the space that has just been marked as available to the operating system.
As we explained earlier, data is not truly deleted when you delete it; that part in the storage is marked as available to the operating system. Hence, any new activity that involves writing to the storage will use available space, which could be the space where your data resides unmarked.
In the case of an SSD, it is advised that you shut off the computer, take out the SSD and plug it externally and use data recovery software.
Download a Recovery Software
After you have taken the preemptive measure of stopping all activity on the computer, you need to download recovery software that can scan your storage.
We want to maximize the chance of recovery, which is why it is advised that you download and install the data recovery software on a portable drive. Downloading the program might overwrite the data you are trying to recover.
There are several recovery software out there, Recuva, Easeus, Stellar, Disk Drill, to name a few. The bulk of the data recovery software out there is paid. The free version may have limited tries or limited recovery functionality.
Restore from Backup
Windows allows you to create a backup of files and folders on a drive. You can also create a restore point for the OS, which saves the current state of your data and programs. If it is lost or corrupted, you can choose to restore a file or folder from the restore point.
Another way to recover lost data is by download Windows File Recovery from the Windows Store. It’s a command-line interface program that searches for deleted files and recovers them.
macOS featured called Time Machine is a backup solution that creates a restore point for your data. But you need to create a backup first if you want to hope to recover lost data.
Enter the folder that contained the lost data, click on the Time Machine icon on the menu bar. If you have a backup of the folder, the Time Machine icon should be visible. You can find Time Machine in System Preferences to enable automatic backup.
To restate, the first thing you must always do is stop any activity on the computer. If you download a program or copy a file, it may be overwritten on your data, preventing data recovery.
Most data recovery software is paid. It may be a tough ask, but that is what will cost you to recover precious data.