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Thread: recover deleted file




  1. #1
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    A friend of mine deleted something on accident that was very very important to her. It was a word document that she had been working on for upwards of six months.

    This happened yesterday and she describes the incident like this:

    She noticed that comments could be added to word files and so she thought that it would be interesting to add one to the file. She did so. Then she tried to open the file and Windows said, "Cannot find file, please try the following." Then it gave her a couple vague options.

    She copied the word file from the folder and pasted it to her desktop. After it was on the desktop, she deleted the original (now inaccessible) file. Now that the file is on her desktop she caoot open it. It appears to be a Word file but refuses to open with either Word or Notepad.

    I have heard from some people that files themselves never actually get erased; that all windows does is add a 1 or a 0 onto the end of the binary to render the file inaccesible. Is this true and if so, how can we recover this file that was so dear to her? Is there any shred of hope?

    By the way, she's running Windows ME.

    I can try to answer any questions that might help you understand just how things went down. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    ladies and gents, this is why you always, always make backups of important data.
    [b]I have heard from some people that files themselves never actually get erased; that all windows does is add a 1 or a 0 onto the end of the binary to render the file inaccessible. Is this true and if so, how can we recover this file that was so dear to her? Is there any shred of hope?
    a shed of hope? yes, but that's about all it is. Basically what windows does, when ever you 'delete' a file windows says that it's safe for that file to be overwritten. So technically the file is still there until it gets written over by something else. Even then it can be recovered, but once it has been written over once it becomes increasingly difficult.

    If you are fortunate enough not to have written over the file yet you can use a program like Undelete (from the makers of the famous Diskeeper), which offers a free trial. I'm sure there are better apps out there, but that's what a quick google search gave me.
    I've gone too far and need to move on!

  3. #3
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    http://www.recovermyfiles.com/
    http://www.data-recovery.com/
    http://www.active-undelete.com/
    http://www.tipsdr.com/recover-data-recovery.html
    http://www.newfreeware.com/utils/617/

    From a more extensive Google search. Explore and try them on your own. I think one was actually a service that you have to pay for (rather than a downloadable program). It may be the easiest (although most expensive) way to get the file back. Really sucks when something like this happens. Good luck to you.

  4. #4
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    I haven't tried Undelete, and I could be wrong, but I don't think it will be useful here.

    From the undelete web page:
    How Undelete works
    There are many files that bypass the recycle bin when deleted, including server files deleted by network users. Undelete replaces the recycle bin with a Recovery Bin that captures all deleted files, allowing them to be recovered instantly with a few clicks of the mouse!

  5. #5
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    the only problem with these scenarios is that in order to do any of this he will have to write more data to the hard drive which is putting his already slim chances in even greater jeopardy. that is, unless he/she has additional partitions/hard drives to work from.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yawgm0th
    I haven't tried Undelete, and I could be wrong, but I don't think it will be useful here.

    From the undelete web page:
    perhaps, i only gave it a quick glance. I'm far to careful with my data to have considered software like this before.
    I've gone too far and need to move on!

  6. #6
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    That's what really sucks. That's why he may end up going with sending\taking the hard drive somewhere for recovery (which I imagine would be very expensive). However, the file is recoverable, one way or another. How much effort it takes will depend on variables such as how much he (or his friend or whatever) uses the hard drive. Definetely stop using it ASAP regardless of what course of action you decide to take.

  7. #7
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    Thanks to all of you for such prompt help. I get sick to my stomach when I think about the amount of time she put into that document.

    I have e-mailed her with some of the advice that you have given me. Sadly, she will be using the computer to check her e-mail because I won't be seeing her for a few days.

    I am curious about how you said that she could take it somewhere--

    Have I understood you correctly? The file is, and will always be there, it's just that it will be increasingly difficult to recover as time goes on and the HD is used. But, as bad as the circumstances may be, the file will remain on the hard drive?

    Once again, thank you very much.

    EDIT: Also, have we excused the possibility that the file is not deleted but rather just associated incorrectly or something along those lines? She can't right-click on the file but there is an icon for it, and that icon is not a shortcut. :(

  8. #8
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    Unless you have developed methods of encryption more sophisticated than those used by the NSA, DOD, CIA, and every other defense and intelligence agency in the world, cut the hard drive into pieces smaller than a cubic inch in size, or melted the hard drive, the file should be recoverable. So try those links and you'll get it figured out. 6 months is a long time, so if you end up spending hundreds of dollars recovering that file, it would probably be worth it. Good luck.:thumb:

  9. #9
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    there are limits. If I remember correctly, after about 10 passes it becomes practically impossible to recover. In all reality, if it gets written over more than once or twice you should consider it lost.

    There are places that specialize in data recovery but it is very expensive and is designed for physically damaged hard drives. Despite the time she has invested in it, would it really be worth hundreds of dollars to recover it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Otherside
    EDIT: Also, have we excused the possibility that the file is not deleted but rather just associated incorrectly or something along those lines? She can't right-click on the file but there is an icon for it, and that icon is not a shortcut. :(
    make another copy of that file and do not change the 'original'. attempt to add .doc to the end of the newly copied one. I suppose there is a chance, but it sounds like the copied file was corrupted in some manner.

    It's a bit late at this point, but it is a really bad idea to experiemnt with features you are not familar with on a project that has some much time invested. This sounds like a Thesis, for her sake I hope it wasn't :(

    It's a long shot, but you could also try to open it with an alternative office suite, such as OpenOffice.org, which handles M$ Office documents very well. It's free, so you need not worry about the cost.
    I've gone too far and need to move on!

  10. #10
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    Oh I wasn't paying close enough attention. If the file is still there it could be missing an extension or something, like minibubba suggested. It shouldn't be exceedingly difficult to recover. Try various programs and then look into some sort of proffesional service if you haven't figued it out. And it won't get to the point where it's unbearably expensive, she probably hasn't even completely overwritten the file yet, and anything under 3 complete passes won't be incredibly difficult to recover. It seems likely that Word or whatever made some sort of mistake when saving the file for whatever reason. But even Notepad can't open it? That's pretty screwed up. There's a little ASCII in most files and notepad will just display code it doesn't understand with space or with gibberish.... Pretty screwed up, I wish I could access that computer myself. Anyway, if you really want to get into researching this stuff, and you probably don't, go to Peter Gutmann's web page. I suspect minibubba would be more interested :). But anyway, one article he wrote created a widely-recognized 35-pass standard that he himself said wouldn't make file recovery impossible, so the file will be recoverable one way or another.

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