How to Recover Deleted Files

Knowing how to recover deleted files can save you from panic and stress if you accidentally trash your thesis or that video of your baby's first steps. All too often we accidentally delete files on our computers then scramble to find them the next day. Luckily there's a couple things you can do to recover deleted files from your hard drive. 

Is It Really Gone?
First, make sure the file is really deleted. If you delete a file or just drag and drop it into the Recycle Bin, it's not automatically gone. You have to choose Empty Recycle Bin before the files disappear. Go to your Desktop and check the Recycle Bin to make sure the file you need isn't hiding in there. If it is, you're in luck and can just drag and drop it into another folder. If it's not there, there's still no need to panic. There's software out there that can help you.

Restoring Deleted Files
Even when you empty your Recycle Bin, those files don't just fall off into oblivion. They are simply removed from the operating system's menus to make space available for other files; they're not necessarily overwritten. However, time is a factor and the quicker you use recovery software, the better.

Defragmenting your hard drive after you notice a file is missing nearly obliterates your chances of getting it back, so don't do this. You can try freeware utility programs or software like Uneraser, which is cheap, easy-to-use and reliable. These programs scan your hard drive for the data associated with a file. If they can recover it, they will. In some cases, you may get gibberish in your file or only be able to retrieve part of it. Note that some of these programs will only work if they're already installed, while others can retrieve files lost before they were installed. Check the description to see how the software works. Recovery software should have no trouble restoring files that get deleted after the software is installed.

Once recovery software is running, you'll follow some simple steps to try and recover the files. If software fails to find your files, you'll need to take your computer to a professional to see if the data can be restored with more powerful tools.

Prevention is the best way to recover files. If you have important information on your computer, regularly back it up using an external hard drive. There's even web services that allow you to upload your files to their server in case they are deleted from your hard drive.

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