How to Recover Lost Files, or Backups Are For Wimps

February 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm 1 comment

If you’ve ever lost a research paper, family photos, or all your MP3’s because of a failed hard drive or USB flash drive… I share your pain. I’ve been there before, and it is the worst feeling to have to start all over again on that assignment or to lose your music collection. Loss of this kind of data can be easily avoided with a good backup strategy, but I’ll cover some of those in a future post.

If you don’t have a backup of your files, they still might be recoverable. There are hundreds of file recovery tools out there, and most of them will ask for at least $40 of your hard-earned money. Now if you ask me, $40 is worth it to avoid having to rewrite an entire paper from scratch the night before it’s due, or to replace gigabytes of music and movies. However, there are some good free tools out there and my favorite has got to be Recuva by Piriform.

Recuva will attempt to recover files that have accidentally been deleted on a healthy, or dying hard drive or memory card. It can even recover files on a drive that has been formatted and appears to be totally blank! Be aware though that no data recovery tool is perfect and there are no guarantees that you’ll ever get your files back. There are things you can do to improve the odds though…

  • Attempt to recover files as soon as possible
  • STOP using the drive unless you are trying to actually recover the files. The more you use the drive, and especially the more files you add to the drive before recovering your file(s), the less chance there is of recovering everything.
  • If you’ve lost files on your C: drive, you’ll have a better chance of recovering them if you shutdown your computer, remove the drive and connect it as an external drive to a second computer. This is especially true if you have 15% disk space or less remaining.

Good luck, and if you need help just let me know!

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