I often get questions on the topic of deleted files and data recovery. Some people think that when you delete a file, it’s gone forever. This isn’t the case. The way our computers delete files is they simply forget that they exist – but the data itself is still there until overwritten by other data. And even then, a partial recovery may be possible. This is the case on both hard disk drives, and the newer solid state drives. It’s the same for other forms of permanent storage like memory cards or flash drives.
The only way to be sure of permanently deleting something is to overwrite it. Many programs offer this capability. If this isn’t done, one can run a recovery program to find the deleted files and undelete them. This simply tells the computer where to find the files again, so it once again knows that they are there.
If you have accidentally deleted a file that you need, there is hope. You simply need a recovery program. The trick is – do NOT download the program on the drive you’re trying to get data from. You have to immediately stop using that drive to prevent possible data overwrite (which means stop using the computer if it’s your main operating system drive, to prevent temporary files from overwriting your data), which would destroy the files you seek to recover. Your best bet is to use a separate PC to install a recovery program on a flash drive, external hard drive, or compact disk. Then use that media to run the program on the effected computer.
If you are computer savvy this isn’t too difficult a task, but if you aren’t it may seem a bit daunting. I keep a recovery program on my write protected USB drive (my IT toolbelt, haha – write protected so viruses can’t hitch a ride) just in case and would be happy to help with data recovery.