Unintentionally deleted files is one of the common problems. Most of us use trash can (or recycle bin in Windows). Each deleted file goes here and if we make a mistake we can easily undelete it. The file has only changed its location. However, if we empty the trash can then the file is deleted forever. Almost forever, unless we immediately start with file recovery operation. How to retrieve deleted files? The deleted file is still there, it is only not visible to the operating system.
When we delete a file it is actually not deleted. Operating system only changes some attributes of the file to make it invisible and releases the space occupied by the deleted file. To undelete a file all we have to do is to undo these changes to make the file visible again. This is how undelete software works. And because of how it works it is called Undelete Software. There is no magic, just simple data recovery based on file system properties. In theory theory it is simple and it also works this way, but in practice we may encounter some problems. Before we describe few free file recovery programs you need to know how to use them. To successfully recover files from hard drive you should not make any wrong move. There is nothing wrong with the free file recovery software, if not used properly it can damage deleted files.
How To Recover Deleted Files?
As soon as we permanently delete any file the disk space occupied by this file becomes available to the system for other data. As soon as we save some file it may overwrite the space that was once used by our old file we have recently deleted. In practice this means that the deleted file can not be recovered or at least not in whole. The undelete operation can restore the original file as it was only if the disk space once used by the deleted file was not overwritten. To fully recover the deleted file we have to act immediately. As soon as we find out that we need the file we should run the data recovery software. And because we don’t do this on a daily basis we have to yet find and install such software. It is very likely that you would pay for such software just to recover the file that contains your latest project. Fortunatelly, you don’t have to pay anything because on this page we list some free undelete software you can use to recover deleted files—many good data recovery tools can be downloaded and used for free
The software is free, just don’t hurry too much and install the software before you really know where it should be installed. If you will install or save file recovery program on the same disk where your deleted file once was it may happen that the undelete software will overwrite your file you are trying to recover! You should not save any file to the disk where you will do recovery operation. This warning applies to partitions, not to the whole hard drive if you have many partitions. This means that if you have many partitions on one drive you are still safe to use other partitions—just leave the one where the deleted file is untouched. In Windows for example, if you have deleted a file on the disk C: you can use other disks like D:, E: or any other to install/save the undelete software. It is also important not to start or use other software before you undelete the file. This is because the software may create temporary files which can overwrite data belonging to the deleted file.
Free Undelete Software
DiskDigger is a shareware Windows undelete software that supports FAT (FAT12, FAT16, FAT32), NTFS, and exFAT partitions. It includes support for most popular file types like photos and images (JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, ICO, ANI, CR2, SR2, NEF, DCR, PEF, SVG, PSD, RAS, PSP), documents (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, VSD, PDF, XML, HTML, RTF, WPD, WPS, PUB, XPS), audio and video files (MP3, WMA, AVI, WAV, MID, FLV, WMV, MOV, M4A, M4V, 3GP, F4V) and other widely used types (ZIP, ISO, RAR, 7Z, EXE, DLL, SIT, MDB, ACCDB, Thumbcache). DiskDigger works under Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. It is also a great digital image recovery software because it can display previews of deleted images.
DiskDigger is shareware. This means that you have to pay ($14.99 for single personal license and $49.99 for single commercial license) in order to use it. However, you will still be able to undelete files without paying with one additional “feature”: for each undelete operation a message box will pop up to notify you that you haven’t purchased a license yet.
PCInspector File Recovery
PCInspector File Recovery is a free undelete software which works under Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP (unfortunately Windows Vista and Windows 7 are not supported yet). PCInspector File Recovery automatically finds FAT (FAT12, FAT16, FAT32) and NTFS partitions automatically even if boot sector or FAT have been erased or damaged and recovers files in the following formats: ARJ, AVI, BMP, CDR, DOC, DXF, DBF, XLS, EXE, GIF, HLP, HTML, HTM, JPG, LZH, MID, MOV, MP3, PDF, PNG, RTF, TAR, TIF, WAV and ZIP.
TestDisk and PhotoRec
This is another universal free undelete software and partition data recovery software that can work under Windows, Linux and Mac. TestDisk is used to recover deleted partitions and to make non-bootable disks bootable again. PhotoRec is a deleted file recovery software that specializes in digital image recovery. It can successfully recover deleted images even when the file system has been severely damaged because it scans raw data to find images. It supports practically ALL image formats used.
Recuva File Recovery
Recuva File Recovery is a free Windows undelete software. It can recover deleted files that and even files from formatted partitions. Recuva File Recovery can also recover deleted emails from Email software like Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird, recover deleted tracks from iPod, and restore unsaved Word documents.
DATA Unerase Personal Edition
DATA Unerase Personal Edition is freeware undelete software that can recover accidentally deleted files. It supports FAT (12/16/32) and NTFS partitions and runs under Windows 7/Vista/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003. eDATA Unerase Personal Edition is free for non-commercial use.
SoftPerfect File Recovery
Another free recovery software for Windows platform. It supports FAT & NTFS partitions and recovers deleted or lost files emptied from the Recycle Bin.
FileRestorePlus is free Windows undelete software that supports FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, NTFS5 partitions and a limited number of CD file formats. It runs under Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT and Windows 2003. FileRestorePlus scans disks for deleted files and tries to recover them. It also supports digital image recovery from from CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMedia and Secure Digital (SD) cards.
FreeUndelete is a simple and free Windows software that can undelete files removed from Windows Recycle Bin. It supports FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS partitions and it is free for personal use.
This is another free undelete software that runs under Windows 9x/Me, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It can recover accidentally deleted files.
This is a freeware Windows file recovery tool. It needs no installation and fits on a floppy disk or even better on a USB flash disk. The user interface is simplified and the software has no advanced features but still it can easily undelete accidentally deleted files.
Win Data Recovery Free
Win Data Recovery Free can recover files from formatted, repartitioned, deleted or corrupted Windows partitions. It supports all Windows file systems (FAT16, FAT32, VFAT, NTFS and NTFS5) and many popular file types like text, pdf, bmp, exe, html, jpg, avi and mp3.
Free Data Recovery Software
Free Data Recovery Software is a nice Windows data recovery tool with great graphical user interface and many advanced features. It supports FAT, FAT32 and NTFS partitions and requires no installation. It can be run from a USB flash disk or CD.
You can also check our article about Data Recovery in California.