[xplorer˛] — Undelete files and folders
home » blog » 3 May 2009
play flash demo

When you delete files normally from your local hard disk they go to the recycle bin, and unless you empty the bin you can simply recover accidental deletions. xplorer˛ can easily undo such files. But not all files end up in the recycle bin, e.g. when you delete from removable drives and USB sticks, or across network folders, of if you press <SHIFT+DEL> and permanently delete something. Still if by some twist of fate you end up destroying an important document there may be hope to get it back if you act quickly.

When you permanently delete a file, the filesystem doesn't do much. It merely marks the disk space that used to be occupied by the deceased file as free for future allocations. Unless you write a new file that happens to overwrite the old bytes stored on disk, the accidentally deleted file can be restored. You need special software for this undeletion, and there are plenty around. I use the free Recuva which looks quite capable and easy to use.

Most undelete tools have to scan the whole disk for records of deleted files, a procedure that may take long and requires administrator privileges. I haven't seen any tool that can narrow its search in a particular folder only, so there must be some sort of fundamental limitation. But anyway, beggars can't be choosers and if you have to wait a bit longer to recover the document you've been working on for the last month, so be it. The recommended Recuva can do both FAT and NTFS partitions and it can filter the results so you can locate a certain folder a posteriori.

Here's your action list if you accidentally delete some important file or folder:

  • Check the recycle bin. If you are lucky the document is in there and you can easily restore it using drag-drop
  • Don't panic. Help is at hand. Don't do anything that may affect the partition that stored the document. Don't save any files. Don't install any programs (e.g. Recuva!) and if you must then install on a safe partition, away from the part that still has the precious deleted bytes.
  • Use an undelete tool. If you are quick enough the special software will recover your document. When prompted, save it to a different partition or to a new removable drive.
  • Prepare for the future. Desperate measures are your last resort. Make regular backups of your important data and keep the backup media in a different house. Like all good squirrels do <g>

Here's a short demo video demonstrating Recuva in action

This story has a flip side. If you think that it's relatively easy to recover a deleted file, how do you make sure some sensitive data is destroyed and nobody can access them any more? For that use xplorer˛ Actions > Shred menu command. Then only the FBI can (maybe) unearth them. But if they are on your tail there's not much you can do about it anyway...

Post a comment on this topic



What would you like to do next?

Reclaim control of your files!
  • browse
  • preview
  • manage
  • locate
  • organize
Download xplorer2 free trial
"This powerhouse file manager beats the pants off Microsoft's built-in utility..."

© 2002—2009 Nikos Bozinis, all rights reserved