How do I retrieve files that have been deleted from the Recycle Bin, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Last week I received a question, "How do I retrieve files that have been deleted from the Recycle Bin?" Since then, I received a few really good suggestions from a few Infopackets Readers.

The first one comes from Rick K. His answer was very complete -- much more than mine was -- which is also why his suggestion * might * be a over the heads of some readers. I've edited Rick's response a bit and have also added a few comments of my own in an attempt to clear any technical jargon.

Infopackets Reader Rick K. writes:

" The Recycle Bin is an attempt to copy what Apple does, which is to move a deleted item to a different directory temporarily. When a file is actually deleted by emptying the Recycle Bin, the File Allocation Table* replaces the first character of the file name with a (?) character indicating that this space is now available; however, the file still remains on the drive until it is overwritten by another file.

Side note: File Allocation Table -- "FAT" for short-form -- is a "table of contents" of where all files are stored on the hard drive. When a request to obtain a file is made from the computer, the FAT is first looked at, and then the file is loaded (allocated) from the listed location.

Before attempting to do anything else with the computer which might overwrite the "now marked" empty space listed in the Recycle Bin, consider using a utility such as Norton Undelete*. This program will show a list of deleted files on the hard drive; each deleted file listed will have a missing character (a Question Mark). If the file is healthy (being, that it was not yet overwritten by another file), you may attempt to "fill in the blank" with the Question Mark and try to retrieve the deleted file.

Depending on your flavor of Windows, there are Shareware / Freeware programs to undelete files -- some require technical knowledge as they simply read whichever formula File Allocation Table you use - FAT, FAT32, NTFS(4) NTFS5, etc."

Chris B. gave me his two cents:

I suggest downloading the freeware program "PC Inspector File Recovery" available from WebAttack; the download is about 2.9 MB. This program will recover anything -- except erased or wiped files, of course. Note: this is not Spyware / Adware. It's really free! A few mouse-clicks and you will have your file back. There is a no-brainer short tutorial in the help file. You can recover the deleted file from the "Recycled" folder (it will have a different name), or even better from the original folder if you can remember where you originally deleted it from (it will have the same name as the original). Save the recovered file where you want.

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