How to Recover Deleted Data

By Lita McLeary

When a file is deleted, it only disappears from the directory of files but remains in the hard drive unless the space that it occupied in the hard disk is overwritten by a new file, making the deleted file recoverable. Windows allows computer to retrieve deleted data in your computer. Tools such as the "Recycle Bin," "System Restore" and "Backup and Restore" allow users to recover data in case of unexpected computer crash. There also are recovery software tools that help you avoid data loss in case the deleted files cannot be retrieved using Windows tools.

Step 1

Browse through your Recycle Bin folder and check if the deleted file is there. If the Recycle Bin feature is enabled in your computer, all deleted files are automatically moved to the Recycle Bin, giving users a chance to recover files in case they are accidentally deleted. Right-click the name of the file in the Recycle Bin and click "Restore."

Step 2

Use the "System Restore" feature that allows you to restore your computer settings and files to an earlier time. This restores your deleted files and settings while retaining the current files that you have. Click "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories," "System Tools" and "System Restore." Select a "Restore Point" and wait for the computer to restore the system (applies to Windows XP, Vista and 7). If you do not have this feature enabled in your system, proceed to the next step.

Step 3

Access the "Backup or Restore" feature in Windows. Assuming that you have a backup copy of your system, place or insert the storage device (flash drives, CDs or DVDs) into its proper port or drive. If you are using Windows XP, click "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories" and then "Backup." For Windows Vista, click "Start," "Control Panel" and then "Backup and Restore Center." If you are using Windows 7, click "Control Panel," "System and Maintenance" and then "Backup and Restore." If you have Windows Vista, click "Start," Control Panel" and then "Backup and Restore Center." Follow the onscreen instructions, browse for the location of the backup device and finish the restoration process. If you do not use this feature or if you do not have saved backup copies of your system, proceed to the next step.

Step 4

Use third-party software to recover files that have been deleted from your system if the above steps do not generate positive results. Download and install the program to your computer. Ensure that you do not install the program onto the same drive where your deleted files were previously located to avoid overwriting on the location of the file. Access the Help file of the program for specific instructions on how to recover deleted files.