One of the most unpleasant and fairly frequent problems for a PC user is losing data for one of these reasons:
  • accidental deletion
  • a glitch of an Operating System
  • virus infection (cryptolocker )
  • hard drive error
Recoverrey of deleted files or damaged files can be done through several routes:

Most natural and obvious path: recovery from a Backup

The only drawback here is a potential time gap between the last backup and the last modification of a deleted file in need of recovery. Quite often recent modifications are lost thus a user must repeat a certain amount of work. Even if it's an hour this can be very frustrating.

Windows’ previous versions tool.

This utility first saw life with Windows Vista release. It's not always engaged out of the box though. In order to ensure that it's active a user should go through a few simple steps. Here's a screen-cast for Windows 7. Other operating system work similarly. Please note that this functionality does consume a certain portion of your hard drive for storing shadow copies of your data. Unlike Backup there's a much better chance of catching the latest version of a missing file.

Cloud synchronization of data folders

If you're working online and your folder with a missing file synced with a cloud such as Google Drive or Dropbox then it's just a matter of logging to this cloud via a web-browser and restoring it through a dedicated interface ("Manage versions" under G-Drive for instance). There's a slim chance that the latest modification didn't complete its synchronization prior to deletion because of slow bandwidth and/or large file size. 

Recovery of deleted files with 3rd party utilities

Here we'd discuss a scenario where no pro-active steps mentioned above were taken or it wouldn't deliver the latest version of a deleted file.

Thanks to the very structure of a hard drive and its file system it is possible to restore a freshly deleted file. Each file consists of a set of zero's and one's which are written in certain mapped areas of a hard drive. When you delete a file the system marks the file as deleted in its catalog but the data itself is left intact until another file gets an assignment to that space and its data overwrites the previous zero's and one's. This is very important to understand because each event of writing data increases the risk of overwriting the data that belonged to an accidentally deleted file. Ideally no further activity should occur on the drive with a missing file. This is not very difficult at all if you have multiple partitions on the drive and the deleted file is NOT on the partition where OS resides. If it's not the case it's best to shutdown your computer immediately. A hard shutdown would further improve the odds of keeping your data intact however it could easily damage the Operating System itself and therefore we can't advise this route. From here there are two options: extracting the hard drive and plugging it to another computer for recovery of deleted files or loading a special recovery OS from a USB stick or CD.

There are many programs that would handle this job, here's to name eighteen: We'd focus on Recuva by Pirisoft as the most user-friendly. We'd also mention @Active products by L-Soft that provides a variety of tools for backup and data recovery, including much more serious scenarios such as partition damage.

Once you load Recuva it will offer a list of file types for recovery: video, images, music, archives or all files. If you remember the exact folder where the missing file resided it'd expedite the process considerably otherwise a scanning process could take hours depending on the drive size and the amount of files. Upon completion of scanning Recuva would display a list of deleted files and chances of recovery. If your file is marked as green then the file's data isn't damaged at all and its full recovery is guaranteed. Orange marks partially damaged data and Red is really bad news. At this stage the only recovery option left is sending the hard drive to a special center however the odds are still very miniscule as discussed here. Solid State drives scenarios are even more complex.
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