Re­cover from data loss

Ac­ci­den­tally deleted a file? Par­ti­tion gone miss­ing? Dis­cover how to bring them back with some free tools and tips

Windows 7 Help & Advice - - WINDOWS 10 -

Of­ten it’s all too easy to delete the wrong file by mis­take. Thank­fully, the way data is stored on stor­age de­vices – in­clud­ing hard drives, flash drives and cam­era mem­ory cards – means it’s of­ten pos­si­ble to bring it back again, as long as you’re quick. That’s be­cause to speed up the process, Win­dows doesn’t phys­i­cally over­write the data, merely makes its space avail­able to other files. Armed with the right tools – in­clud­ing a sep­a­rate drive to write the re­cov­ered data to – you might be able to re­store it again.

Sim­ple data re­cov­ery

As soon as you re­alise you have lost data, stop read­ing or writ­ing to the drive im­me­di­ately. Step one is to down­load a file re­cov­ery tool. This needs to be a por­ta­ble tool – in other words, you can down­load it to a sep­a­rate drive from the one con­tain­ing your data and run it di­rectly from there. One of the sim­plest tools of the trade is Re­cuva. Get the por­ta­ble ver­sion from www.pir­i­form. com/re­cuva/builds – down­load the zip file di­rectly to your non-af­flicted drive, un­zip its con­tents to the same drive and then dou­ble-click re­cuva.exe (32-bit) or re­cuva64.exe (64-bit) de­pend­ing on your Win­dows sys­tem type.

It’s straight­for­ward to use – start with the wizard, which en­ables you to nar­row your search ac­cord­ing to file type. If you know where the file was, you can se­lect its ex­act lo­ca­tion, or widen your search to a spe­cific drive or your en­tire PC. If the file has only just been deleted, leave En­able Deep Scan unticked and click Start to be­gin your search.

Once com­plete, a list of re­cov­ered files will be shown, along with their ‘state’. Hope­fully you’ll spot your file marked as Ex­cel­lent – se­lect it and click Re­cover, mak­ing sure to save it to a dif­fer­ent drive. Choose ‘Switch to ad­vanced mode’ to pre­view cer­tain files or tweak scan set­tings. Even if doc­u­ments are in a bad state, it may be pos­si­ble to ex­tract some of their orig­i­nal text from here.

Ad­vanced data re­cov­ery

Re­cuva works bril­liantly with deleted files, but if your data is in a worse state – for ex­am­ple, if you’ve lost ac­cess to an en­tire par­ti­tion or drive – then you may need a more pow­er­ful, if less user­friendly tool. The pro­gram in ques­tion is DMDE (or DM Disk Ed­i­tor and Data Re­cov­ery Soft­ware). It can de­tect lost and deleted par­ti­tions – in­clud­ing par­ti­tions not nor­mally vis­i­ble to Win­dows, such as a re­cov­ered, but work­ing, hard disk from a bro­ken ex­ter­nal drive that’s been for­mat­ted in a pro­pri­etary way. The step-by-step guide on the fac­ing page shows you how to get started us­ing it.

If your prob­lems ex­tend to be­ing un­able to boot into Win­dows it­self, then turn to page 18 and look at Laze­soft Re­cov­ery Suite Home Edi­tion, which has a built-in data re­cov­ery tool that you can ac­cess from its emer­gency boot disk.

Be­fore us­ing DMDE to hunt down data from a miss­ing par­ti­tion, see if you can bring it back in­tact first. Of­ten this can be traced to an ac­ci­den­tally deleted par­ti­tion or one where the par­ti­tion header has cor­rupted – if the is­sue is this sim­ple, get­ting a non-Win­dows par­ti­tion back can be done quickly and eas­ily from within Win­dows us­ing AOMEI Par­ti­tion As­sis­tant.

Down­load and in­stall the free Stan­dard edi­tion from www.aomeit­ech. com/aomei-par­ti­tion-as­sis­tant.html – on launch­ing the tool, choose Wizard > Par­ti­tion Re­cov­ery Wizard.

First, se­lect the phys­i­cal drive where your miss­ing par­ti­tion should re­side – as you click on a drive, you will see a vi­su­al­i­sa­tion of its con­tents ap­pear, help­ing you to iden­tify it (look specif­i­cally for un­al­lo­cated space where the par­ti­tion should be). Click ‘Next’, then try the rec­om­mended Fast Search op­tion, which should in most cases find the miss­ing par­ti­tion; if that fails, then try Full Search in­stead.

You’ll be able to ex­plore any par­ti­tion’s con­tents, en­abling you to ver­ify that it’s the cor­rect one be­fore re­cov­er­ing it and bring­ing your data back to life. If the par­ti­tion isn’t re­cov­er­able, use DMDE to try and re­cover data from it in­stead.

“Even if doc­u­ments are in a bad state, it may be pos­si­ble to ex­tract some of their orig­i­nal text from here”

Re­cuva should be your first port of call for lost or deleted data.

AOMEI Par­ti­tion As­sis­tant can re­store lost or ac­ci­den­tally deleted drive par­ti­tions.

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