How to Recover Deleted Files From a Hard Drive

By Jackson Lewis

Recovering deleted files from your hard drive is a two-step process: 1) Educate yourself about how file deletion works before you delete a file; 2) Obtain the right tool or software to help you recover the file if it really is deleted. When you delete a file on your computer, it is not really deleted at that second in time. The operating system marks the memory which the program or file was stored as being available for use when needing to save future files.The probability of success for file recovery of a deleted file exponentially decreases with the amount of time that you allow to pass before attempting recovery.

Things You'll Need

  • Data recovery softwareAlternate computer connected to the Internet

Step 1

Open your "Recycle Bin" by left clicking to verify that the file is not simply placed there for future deletion. If the file is listed, right click the file, and select "Restore" to recover your file.

Step 2

If your file is not in the recycle bin, stop using your computer. Do not shut the computer down because a reboot will increase the odds that the operating system may save over the memory location where your file was saved.

Step 3

Use an alternate computer and download a file recovery tool such as DiskInternals Uneraser from Tech Pro (see link in Resources). Save the application to a CD or memory stick. Install on the computer with the missing file.

Step 4

Run the DiskInternals Uneraser program by double left clicking the application icon. Select the "Wizard" menu option. Left click the "Next" menu button. On the first Wizard screen, choose the drive and folder you want to scan for the deleted file on your computer. Select "File Chooser" with your mouse and "Next" once configured.

Step 5

Choose the file type or types for those you are going to attempt to recover. Choose "Next" once you have completed this step. Select "Scan" to start scanning your hard drive for deleted files that meet the configuration options selected. When the application has finished scanning your computer, it will display the number of files that meet the configuration settings selected. Choose "Next" to close the wizard.

Step 6

Select the file or files to undelete in the Uneraser Explorer window by left clicking the file, then left click "Recover." You will then have to select a drive to save the newly recovered file to. Do not save the newly recovered file to the same drive that it just came from because the recovery may become corrupted.