Lost An Important File? Here’s How You Go About Recovering It
Many people don’t realize how easy it is to accidentally hit Don’t Save when they close a program. A reflexive move such as this can make hours of hard work disappear. As a reasonable assurance against such accidents, applications like Microsoft Word automatically save changes to documents at regular intervals (on Word, the function is called AutoRecover). You can minimize any loss of data by simply shortening the AutoRecover interval. In Word 2010, you need to click on File , select Options at the bottom of the panel to the left to see the AutoRecover option. The Save AutoRecover information every _ minutes box option is set at 10 minutes by default. You can lower it all the way to 1 minute.
Other ways to lose your work aren’t as simple to address – such as accidentally deleting a file. Is there a way to recover work that’s lost to an accidental deletion?
After you check the Recycle Bin, check if you have automatic backup
If you have a cloud backup service like Dropbox set up to back up your system at regular intervals, you can check to see if you have an automatic backup copy there (or at least a copy in the Trash folder there). If you don’t have cloud storage, there is still hope in the Previous Versions function on Windows 7 and Windows Vista and the equivalent File History function in Windows 8.
These tools are part of Windows. Many computer manufacturers turn them on to create backups of certain folders by default. Other manufacturers leave them turned off – you have to turn them on yourself if you wish to have Windows create automatic backups. When you lose a file, it is a good idea to check if one of these tools has created an automatic backup for you to recover your data from.
You need to right-click on the folder that used to contain the missing file and click on Restore previous versions . Windows then gives you access to any backup files that it has for the folder.
To recover a lost file in Windows 8, you need to open the folder that used to contain the file and click on the File Histor y button on the Ribbon. Right away, you get to see a list of any backups for the file.
If you don’t have any backups, you might be able to use file-recovery software
File recovery software has never meant guaranteed file recovery. Its success has always depended on a peculiarity of traditional magnetic hard drive operation – when files on a regular magnetic hard drive are deleted, they aren’t actually erased. Only the index entries pointing to them are wiped out. The space occupied by the file, then, is opened up for use. If you use file recovery software soon after you delete a file on a traditional hard drive, chances are excellent that you haven’t done anything that could require reusing the space occupied by file. Unfortunately, magnetic traditional hard drives are quickly being replaced by cheap and fast solid-state drives these days.
Solid-state drives on modern operating systems like Windows 7 and 8 execute a command called TRIM (this is not an acronym) to truly erase files once you hit Delete .
If you do have a traditional hard disk, do this for the best chances of successful file recovery
If the file you’ve lost is extremely important and you don’t wish to spend on hiring a professional data recovery service, you should use the most effective methods available to try to recover it.
Since keeping the computer turned on opens you to the risk of having something written to the location on your hard disk that contains the file, you should shut the computer down immediately. Even installing file recovery software could be risky – the software could install on top of the lost file.
To recover the file, you should use a file recovery tool that runs directly off a CD or DVD instead of your hard drive. The usual method is to run an Ubuntu live CD to fire up an operating system and to then use portable tools like Photorec or Ntfsundelete.
If the file you need isn’t important enough to justify such serious methods, you could simply find good file recovery software to install directly on Windows and then try your luck.
Turn on file backups now
It can take people a few data loss scares to really understand how important setting up a file backup system is. Even if you don’t go to the trouble of a cloud backup system, it makes sense to at least turn on the default backup facility on Windows.