When you store files on your computer, they generally go onto a hard disk drive. When you (accidentally) delete a file in Windows, the data is generally still there. It simply “hides” it by removing the first character in the file name. The space that this file occupied is now fair game for other files to be saved overtop.

That is why it is critical to STOP EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING on your computer if you suddenly realize you mistakenly deleted a file. There is a higher probability of recovering that file if you don’t allow your computer to overwrite the space being occupied by the (now) deleted file.

Finding free programs that can perform data recovery is fairly difficult. You need to be careful what you download. Many programs use the word free but really they are simply talking about the download of the file. They allow you to scan your drive, you get all excited, and then when you go to recover the files you realize you need to purchase a license for the software (though usually they aren’t that expensive).

One program that I have found that is free and does work is Pandora Recovery. It is a Windows only program. Unfortunately as this is a program that you need to install on your Windows computer, it does take space and does increase the likelihood of overwritting portions of the files you are trying to recover. Unless you have installed this program before the problem occured.

Going one step further towards disaster would be where your computer simply won’t boot into Windows. Perhaps you hear a loud clicking sound or your hard drive doesn’t even spin up at all. This is something everyone dreads.

Read next’s weeks blog article to discover how to try and recover files from a hard drive that won’t boot into Windows.

8 Comments
  1. I love hard drives ever since they have been released because discs use to be a pain to back up stuff. My only worry was that hard drive crashing or me accidentally deleting important files. I had mistakenly deleted files before and searched many places for recovery of data. I’ve seen many of these programs and thought it was a money making scam. Never thought that installing something could overwrite my file.

  2. I use mostly free programs but in Windows, you really have to be wary of what you install. Some would try to get you to install additional programs that can be malware, so it’s best to be aware of what you’re agreeing to instead of just clicking next over and over.

    Just to be safe, I’m installing a recovery file app now instead of waiting for when I actually lose a file.

  3. This is an interesting article. I will have to look into Pandora Recovery. That’s great that it is free! I’ve never had to recover my hard drive, thankfully. I printed out your article for the day that I do need to recover information from my hard drive. Thank you!

  4. *Always do backups *

    That way you can manage your life even when the hard disk crashes.

    I have used many software recovery programs, and typically end up using more than one. For e.g. Hiren’s boot CD includes more than one program that help you recover data, but has questionable ethics (ahem..!).

  5. Backup, backup, backup. For some reason, people don’t understand that a “backup” doesn’t mean putting info on an external hard drive and deleting it off your main computer. It’s not a backup unless the file is in more than two locations. Also, people seem to forget that redundancy for backups is also important, and now that we live with the cloud, there isn’t an excuse to have backups off site too.

  6. That last sentence gives me a dreadful feeling, because a month ago I experienced the exact same thing. The thing is I should have looked out for the signs my computer was trying to show me before it eventually stopped booting and the hard drive began clicking wildly. I have beat myself up about it thinking I should have been smarter and saved my files, but what’s done is done. I’ll just have to accept my loss. Also this article presents some information new to me when it comes to the fact that if you install a recovery program, it could potentially overwrite parts of files you’re trying to recover. What a bummer.

  7. This information here is very interesting because there has been many times, I accidentally deleted things from my laptop. Knowing this really helps retrieve your lost info is very valuable and I’m surely going to get more info on this Pandora recovery service. Thanks for the post.

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