Undo a file deletion
For better or worse, it takes effort to truly delete files from your system. In most cases, files removed from a hard drive actually remain there until new files overwrite them. If a data-recovery program can find the files before they're overwritten, you have an excellent chance of restoring your data. Whether a file was deleted accidentally or is inaccessible because of damage to the drive or its file system, remember the golden rule of data recovery: Act fast! The more you use a hard drive, the more likely the file will be overwritten and lost forever.
Files that have been "permanently" deleted--when you empty the Recycle Bin or press
Symantec's SystemWorks 2005 includes an undelete program, and the free trial version of Ontrack's EasyRecovery Lite 6 will tell you whether a file is recoverable. A free alternative is Brian Kato's Restoration utility).
If you use Windows XP or 2000, make sure the program you select supports the file system your hard disk uses, either FAT32 or NTFS (read on for more on Windows file-system differences). If you're not sure which format your hard drive uses, open My Computer, right-click the drive's icon, select Properties, and look to the right of 'File system'.
1. DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING ONTO THE DRIVE CONTAINING YOUR IMPORTANT DATA THAT YOU HAVE JUST DELETED ACCIDENTALLY! Even data recovery software installation could spoil your sensitive data. If the data is really important to you and you do not have another logical drive to install software to, take the whole hard drive out of the computer and plug it into another computer where data recovery software has been already installed or use recovery software that does not require installation, for example recovery software which is capable to run from bootable floppy.
2. DO NOT TRY TO SAVE ONTO THE SAME DRIVE DATA THAT YOU FOUND AND TRYING TO RECOVER! When saving recovered data onto the same drive where sensitive data is located, you can intrude in process of recovering by overwriting FAT/MFT records for this and other deleted entries. It's better to save data onto another logical, removable, network or floppy drive.