PC Repair Tips: How to Recover Lost or Deleted Data

Worries about lost data or deleted data? Here you can find some solutions that might help you repairing your system. You need to understand some common errors why does it happen, how to prevent it, what are the things you must do about it and if you can still recover any lost or deleted data.

Flickr Image via ComLand Design

Data recovery is the process of salvaging and handling the data through the data from damaged, failed, corrupted, or inaccessible secondary storage media when it cannot be accessed normally. Often the data are being salvaged from storage media such as internal or external hard disk drives, solid-state drives (SSD), USB flash drive, storage tapes, CDs, DVDs, RAID, and other electronics. Recovery may be required due to physical damage to the storage device or logical damage to the file system that prevents it from being mounted by the host operating system (OS).

The most common data recovery scenario involves an operating system failure, accidental damage etc., in which case the goal is simply to copy all wanted files to another disk. This can be easily accomplished using a Live CD, many of which provide a means to mount the system drive and backup disks or removable media, and to move the files from the system disk to the backup media with a file manager oroptical disc authoring software. Such cases can often be mitigated by disk partitioning and consistently storing valuable data files (or copies of them) on a different partition from the replaceable OS system files.

Another scenario involves a disk-level failure, such as a compromised file system or disk partition, or a hard disk failure. In any of these cases, the data cannot be easily read. Depending on the situation, solutions involve repairing the file system, partition table or master boot record, or hard disk recovery techniques ranging from software-based recovery of corrupted data, hardware-software based recovery of damaged service areas (also known as the hard drive’s “firmware”), to hardware replacement on a physically damaged disk. If hard disk recovery is necessary, the disk itself has typically failed permanently, and the focus is rather on a one-time recovery, salvaging whatever data can be read.

In a third scenario, files have been “deleted” from a storage medium. Typically, the contents of deleted files are not removed immediately from the drive; instead, references to them in the directory structure are removed, and the space they occupy is made available for later overwriting. In the meantime, the original file contents remain, often in a number of disconnected fragments, and may be recoverable.

Recovering data from physically damaged hardware can involve multiple techniques. Some damage can be repaired by replacing parts in the hard disk. This alone may make the disk usable, but there may still be logical damage. A specialized disk-imaging procedure is used to recover every readable bit from the surface. Once this image is acquired and saved on a reliable medium, the image can be safely analyzed for logical damage and will possibly allow much of the original file system to be reconstructed.

Before reviewing the below recommendations and suggestions, verify that the files have been deleted. In some cases the files may have been moved. You can search the hard drive for the files you believe to be missing by running find or search on the computer. If the file has been backed up to floppy disk or other medium you can have that file restored from that backup if the file cannot be found.

You can also restore from Recycle Bin or Trash. If you are running Mac OS or Microsoft Windows and the file has been recently deleted it may still be in the Trash or Recycle Bin. If present within this area it can be recovered.

To recover a deleted file from the Trash or in your Recycle Bin, you can download freeware program or purchase a program. When a file is deleted (even when removed from the Recycle Bin) the files are marked as deleted, however it is not removed from the hard drive. Assuming no other file has overwritten the deleted file on the hard drive a recovery program can be used to recover deleted files. The freeware file recovery programs that can be used freely to recover such lost data.

Lists of Recommended Tools to Restore or Recover Deleted Files:

1. Recuva – (Wikipedia) is a data recovery program for Windows, developed by Piriform. It is able to recover files that have been “permanently” deleted and marked by the operating system as free space. The program can also be used to recover files deleted from USB flash drives, memory cards, or MP3 players.

2. Restoration – (CNET) Restoration has a good job of resurrecting files, folders, and clusters in all of our tests, and we were impressed with both its scan and recovery speeds. On the downside, Restoration offers few extra features, though you can choose to permanently delete any items the program recovers.

3. Undelete Plus – (CNET) is a way to retrieve accidentally deleted files, files removed from the Recycle Bin, in a DOS window, from a network drive, from Windows Explorer with the SHIFT key held down.

4. FreeUndelete – (Wikipedia) is a freeware data recovery software utility, running under Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2003 and 2000. FreeUndelete supports NTFS and FAT file systems. The program allows users to recover files that have been permanently deleted from Windows Recycle Bin.

5. Photorec – (Wikipedia) It is a free and open source file carver data recovery software tool designed to recover lost files from digital camera memory (CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Secure Digital, SmartMedia, Microdrive, MMC, USB flash drives, etc.), hard disks and CD-ROMs.

6. PC Inspector File Recover – (CNET) PC Inspector File Recovery is a data recovery program that supports the FAT 12/16/32 and NTFS file systems. Finds partitions automatically, even if the boot sector or FAT has been erased or damaged (does not work with the NTFS file system).

7. Drive Image by PowerQuest – (CNET) Reduce your risk by protecting your data with PowerQuest’s Drive Image 7. You can quickly create hard drive images for backup to protect your data.

In addition to the above freeware programs there are also several companies that have created programs designed to recover your lost data.
For more information about Repairing with your Computers and Data Recovery, you can send us an email through our IT Support in Melbourne at info@mscs.com.au or visit our website @ www.mscs.com.au for complete details.