How to Restore Files You Already Deleted

The process of deleting a file might seem pretty straightforward—when you delete a file, it's gone forever—but luckily things are not so cut and dry. If you recently deleted a very important file by accident, there are a number of ways you can try to get it back, even if you've already emptied your computer's recycling bin. This doesn't mean recovery is a guarantee, but these steps are definitely worth a try.

Recover from the Cloud

Depending on where the file was when you deleted it, there may be an automatic backup copy stored in the cloud. If you stored the file in a folder used by a cloud-syncing app, there may be a backup copy stored there, but that's easy to forget since you access everything from your computer. Log in to your cloud-syncing account and then check the list of recently deleted files. Some clouds keep copies for up to a month, so if you just deleted your file recently, you can restore it instantly from your online account.

Restore a Previous Version of the File

Unless you've disabled system protection on your computer, you may have multiple restore points available. Open Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder the deleted file used to reside in, right click on the folder, then click "Restore previous versions." A list will pop up showing you all available variations of that folder; this can be sorted by name or date to help you find the right one. This will restore the folder to the way it was at the time the backup was created and could restore the file you need.

Try Free Recovery Software

Even if you don't have any backup protections enabled, deleting a file doesn't immediately get rid of it unless it has been written over. Files are especially durable on standard magnetic hard drives. If you've only just recently deleted the file, you may be able to get it back using one of many free file-recovery programs. They are free with no strings attached, but as usual, when downloading anything from the Internet, you should exercise caution and do some research.

Boot from File-Recovery CD

A safe alternative to recovery software is a live recovery CD. Instead of running a recovery program, you can boot your computer to a recovery CD that gives you access to many of the same options but tends to be safer because it doesn't involve rewriting the drive. If you have a solid-state hard drive instead of a magnetic hard drive, use this method instead, as it decreases the chance of deleting your file. Search online for a live CD that you can burn, and then restart your computer and boot to the disc you just created. The exact process may vary depending on what live CD you choose, so remember to print any instructions if you need to.

Hire Software-Recovery Services

If none of the above options work, it's a good idea to hire someone to help you sooner rather than later. This is because the longer you use your computer, the greater the chances that the deleted file could be overwritten, making it hard, if not impossible, to recover. To improve your chances of recovering the file, stop using your computer and shut it down until you're able to meet with a professional, if at all possible. Many tech stores offer recovery services, but there are also many independent computer-support companies as well, so do some research to find the best price and service.

Talk to a company such as Advanced Business Systems to learn more.