How to undelete a file
October 20, 2011 3:44 PM   Subscribe

How to undelete a permanently deleted file (Windows edition)?

Win-7 64-bit.

I thought I was deleting one file folder. Apparently I was deleting the master file folder not the sub-folder. (I've never done anything like this before, so I'm blaming the new contacts I'm trialling.)

The file was too big to be put in the recycling bin, so it was permanently deleted.

What's the preferred software to recover my folder? Or the best fix?
posted by sardonyx to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try Recuva
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:53 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and try not to do too much file editing (and definitely no defragging) until you recover it. Although unlikely, it could overwrite the spot on your HD.
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:54 PM on October 20, 2011

I can't vouch for this particular software, but the advice in text on this page is correct.
posted by aubilenon at 3:54 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: JauntyFedora,
Is that a personal recommendation? Have you tried it or is it just the first answer that comes up with a Google search? (That's how I first heard of it.)
posted by sardonyx at 4:17 PM on October 20, 2011

Just had Zero Assumption Recovery do an amazing job (312 out of 315 pictures) on a friend's SD card.
posted by Samizdata at 4:59 PM on October 20, 2011

And I hope you are not using that drive right now. Windows loves to write to the drive all the time and that means overwritten data, which means no recovery unless you want to spend lots of money...
posted by Samizdata at 5:01 PM on October 20, 2011

I've had great luck with Recuva in that situation where the deletion was very recent. Zero Assumption Recovery I haven't used but it has a great reputation.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:02 PM on October 20, 2011

I have personally used Recuva, it is alright.
For stickier situations, I've used GetDataBack.
I've also used DiskInternals Ntfs Data Recovery with great success.
posted by calm down at 5:26 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the all responses.

Because I wasn't getting a lot of consensus early on in the thread, and because I was totally and completely impatient (I wanted to get back to using the system as quickly as possible without fear of overwriting the data), I turned to CNET for a recommendation. Pandora seemed to be high on the list with decent reviews from both editors and the general population.

So far it seems to be working although very slowly. Rather than being able to find the whole folder that was deleted -- I tried that and it didn't work -- I'm having to search for the individual files, which is a bit of a pain. Fortunately the files weren't my critical ones -- those are backed up regularly -- so even if I miss recovering a few, it won't be a complete catastrophe.

I'll definitely keep Recuva in mind should this ever happen again (knock on wood it doesn't). Knowing that it has the votes of at least a few MeFites make me much more inclined to trust it.
posted by sardonyx at 5:42 PM on October 20, 2011

FWIW to you, sardonyx, I've never used Recuva but Piriform's other products I personally use and recommend all the time, particularly CCleaner, Speccy and Defraggler. If Recuva is like their other products it probably has a fairly straight-forward design, not an overwhelming ton of advanced options, but it will do what they say it's supposed to do, about as well as you'd hope it would.
posted by Edogy at 6:47 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: You're right about Piriform. I've got CCleaner installed, but I stupidly didn't notice that the same company made Piriform, otherwise I would have downloaded it without a second thought. (Apparently these contacts are really not the ones for me. Oh well, that's why I'm just trying them out.)

Pandora has managed to recover a majority of the files. They're just TV and movie files, so again, my life isn't over if they totally vanished. For example, one episode of Terriers is gone (and not recoverable), two episodes of Rubicon, etc.

What it didn't do was give me a simple way to search for the files. It gave me tick boxes for lots of files (office files, graphics files, etc.) but no tick boxes for video. I ended up just doing wildcard searches for *.avi and *.mp4. That did a pretty good job of finding the files. Now there does seem to be a discrepancy between files what it says are damaged files (partially or totally rewritten) and files that when recovered are damaged and unplayable that I can't quite comprehend. Oh well, as I said, it's no tragic loss.

What is really ironic is that I was doing a data backup at the same time as I was deleting files. I do make sure I take really good care of business and e-mail files.
posted by sardonyx at 7:05 PM on October 20, 2011

Sorry to not respond again sooner, but yes I have used Recuva personally. Wouldn't have recommended it otherwise.
posted by JauntyFedora at 7:46 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks JauntyFedora.

As I said, now that it has come recommended with the MeFi stamp of approval, I'll keep it in mind should this ever happen again.

So I guess I'll mark it resolved now.
posted by sardonyx at 9:39 PM on October 20, 2011

I've used ZAR and I like it.

Best practice for recovering deleted files is (a) shut down the affected machine ASAP (b) pull the hard disk and stick it in an external enclosure (c) use a different machine to do the recovery.

The disk space occupied by deleted files is marked "available" as soon as they're deleted. So if you wait until after an accidental deletion before installing recovery tools, and then install those on the same drive as the files were deleted from, you stand a very good chance of destroying the deleted files irretrievably.
posted by flabdablet at 11:34 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

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