You are searching for a document, photo, or other files that were lost. You scanned your hard drive. You raked through the Recycle Bin. No sign of it? Don’t be concerned. As long as you act quickly, you can restore the file. To do so, you will need to turn to recovery Software to undelete the file.
I have used three applications of this kind: Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery, and Active Uneraser. You can perform a quick search for recently deleted files and a more detailed scan for locating old ones in these programs. You can scan devices such as USBs, SD cards, and even internal disks.
If you have deleted a file that has been synced or stored in the cloud, you can usually undelete it if the cloud provider provides some recycling bin or trash folder. Even though popular services such as OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, Box and Dropbox offer ways to recover deleted files, you only have thirty days to retrieve them. After the deadline has passed, the deleted files will be deleted from the servers.
An old adage can be applied when trying to restore a deleted file: the earlier, the better. When a file is deleted in Windows, it is moved to the Recycle Bin. You can erase files without using the recycle bin by turning it off through the Properties window or holding down the Shift key while doing so. No matter how much you use the Recycle Bin, you may eventually find that it begins to overflow and start kicking out older files. Then again, there is the possibility that you may decide to empty your bin to free up disk space.
When a file is marked as permanently deleted in Windows, its location is recorded in the file allocation table rather than being erased from the hard drive. As a result, the deleted file will continue to exist until a new file is stored that ends up overwriting it. Each file is stored in its own space grouped together on your hard drive. Occasionally, part of a file’s clusters may become overwritten with new data while other clusters remain intact. In such cases, you may be able to recover only some of the information but not the entire file.
Of course, a regular backup of important documents and other files is necessary going forward. If that is the case, then you can keep deleted files for as long as you want on your backup source. However, these three apps can be used to fix the damage caused by unintentionally deleting a file from your PC.
Recuva recovers all types of deleted files, such as e-mail, pictures, and other documents from your hard drive, as well as from removable drives. The program starts with a wizard that asks you for information concerning the type and location of the file you wish to restore. Recuva scans your drive to display a list of deleted files. You can choose to restrict the search by specifying the location or you can allow it to scan all possible locations. Each file is listed by name, location, size, recovery chances, and a comment providing further details. After selecting the file you want to restore, Recuva prompts you where to save it. Tips: If you hope to recover additional files from the same drive, save the recovered files in a different location to ensure that you do not overwrite any other clusters.
By switching to advanced mode instead of using the wizard, you can select the location, select the file type and specify the file name or wildcard combination to limit the search. If you can not locate your file, try a deep scan, which will comb through each sector of the hard drive and look for deleted files. Just be prepared to wait: The deep scan took over two hours on my 2TB hard drive with 240GB of data.
I used Recuva for restoring deleted files from a hard drive, a USB stick, and an SD card. All files were recovered well. The files that were categorized as “poor” or “very poor” were either not recoverable at all or only partially, while those ranked as “unrecoverable” did not have much of a chance. We should make it clear that a rating of excellent is appropriate for newly deleted data without any clusters overwritten. Poor or very poor refers to a file that has few of its clusters intact, and unrecoverable refers to a file that has been deleted, but its clusters were all overwritten.
The basic Recuva package is free; the Pro version costs $19.95 and provides automatic updates and free premium support. There’s also a portable version of the software that can be run off a USB drive without installing it on your computer.
As a whole, Recuva works smoothly and efficiently. The wizard is easy to use. However, be warned that it dumps so many deleted files at your feet that it might prove hard to locate the only one you are looking for. If you prefer, you can move straight to advanced mode, where you have more control over what you see.
EaseUS Data Recovery
The EaseUS Data Recovery program is available for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. It offers various features that are available as a free and a paid product. There are many options for restoring files from hard drives, USB sticks, RAID configurations, SD cards, MP3 players, cameras, camcorders and more.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free displays all partitions on your hard drive so that you can select a partition and scan for deleted files or choose a specific folder to scan. After performing a scan on your drive, the program presents a list of locations where deleted files were found, arranged by folder and type of file. Select a folder to view the contents. In order to filter the results, one can select only specific file types, such as graphics, audio, video, and documents. Additionally, one can also search for a particular file by name and wildcard references, such as an asterisk.
By default, the software displays key file information such as name, size, date, type, and path. You cannot check whether a deleted file is recoverable, however, you can preview a deleted file to see if it is intact.
During the search process, EaseUS performs a deep scan that takes several minutes to complete. The good news is you can view your preliminary results while the deep scan process takes a little bit of time. The software then asks you to choose a location from which to restore your files, so choose a drive other than the original source if you need to restore additional files. When the program has completed the task, the Recovery Folder opens so you can verify the results which you have selected.
With EaseUS Data Recovery, I was able to recover all recently deleted files and most deleted files that were on hidden or lost partitions. The Deep Scan was very effective in restoring files that previously seemed lost.
Free version of EaseUS Data Recovery has one major limitation: It can recover no more than 500MB at a time. If you share a link of the application on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, though, that limit can be increased to 2GB. For larger files, however, you may need to purchase a more expensive edition. Data Recovery Wizard Pro, for $69.95, is able to undelete any file size. With an estimated price of $99.90, Data Recovery Wizard Pro+WinPE offers a bootable CD option in case your hard drive fails. For those who recover data and hard drives for a living, you can buy the Data Recovery Wizard Technician for $499 a year or $299 for a lifetime subscription. All three paid editions offer free lifetime upgrades and free technical support.
Active Uneraser contains a number of interesting features. You can start from the free version, which contains all the necessary features. You can undelete files from your hard drive, external hard drives, USB sticks, and SD cards. There is also support for RAID configurations. Active Uneraser displays your hard disk partitions, including deleted ones. Select a particular partition from a list of partitions, and the program provides all relevant details, including the total size, free space, file system, and condition.
After a partition has been scanned, Active Uneraser displays all the files it detects. You have the option of viewing all files, existing files, as well as deleted files. The files are organized by folder so that a quick and comprehensive search is possible. Searching for a deleted file can always be done by name and wildcards. When the initial QuickScan fails to reveal any files or folders, use the QuickScan Plus feature. The next option is a SuperScan, which is more comprehensive but takes a long time to detect deleted items. If these options do not prove successful, you can try using the Last Chance option, which identifies files based on their signatures, which identify their format.
You can preview some types of deleted files, however Active Undelete restricts your view to files less than 10MB. To restore a file, you must first select it and run the Unerase command. Active Undelete will then open the recovery folder in Windows Explorer or File Explorer.
I was able to restore all files that had recently been deleted from a hard drive, USB stick and SD card, and both applications managed to recover older files as well. SuperScan took four hours to run, and Last Chance took six hours.
A small restriction in the free version is that you can only recover one file at a time. To get past this limitation and gain access to additional features, upgrade to one of the two paid versions. The Professional edition for $39.99 packs a Windows Recovery environment for when your PC cannot boot up. The Ultimate edition for $49.99 adds a Linux recovery CD and the ability to repair or restore damaged RAID configurations.
The best program for recovery
Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery, and Active Uneraser are all effective and efficient programs that recover deleted files. If you want to use a free tool, then check out Recuva. It is quite effective, and has no limitations like the free versions of the other two programs. If you do not mind spending a little money, consider the Professional edition of Active Uneraser, as it is reasonably priced, offers three different levels of scanning, and includes a bootable recovery environment.