I accidentally deleted a file – can I get it back?

I accidentally deleted a file – can I get it back?

By Jeandre de Beer

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What if you accidentally deleted a file you were not supposed to – can you get it back? Anyone who has used computers for a while has accidentally deleted the wrong file – we know that feeling that you get when you realize what has just happened.




What can you do?


1. Immediately stop working on your computer


It’s very important to stop working on the computer immediately. The more programs that you use and the more data that you save – the less chance you have of recovering your file.  Deleting a file does not, by default, destroy the file.

By deleting a file you are just giving your computer permission to save new files in the location of the deleted file – you are telling your computer that the space on the hard drive where you saved the file is available again and can be used to save other data.

As soon as the space that the file occupied is used to save another file – your chances of recovering the deleted file is greatly reduced.  That is why it’s so important to stop working on your computer until your deleted file is recovered.


2. Recycle Bin


The easiest way to recover a deleted file is to check if it was moved to the recycle bin. By default – when you delete a file in windows – it goes to the recycle bin. It’s an easy process to undelete the file then – just open your recycle bin – right click on the file and select restore.

If you are unlucky and the file has not been moved to the recycle bin – you need 3rd party utilities to recover the file.


3. Third Party Utilities


There are various 3rd party utilities available to do data recovery. In this case – you get what you pay for. Depending on how important your deleted file was – you should consider at this point getting a professional in to recover the data.

If you use the incorrect utility or choose the incorrect settings you could damage the file and make it impossible to recover the data.  These utilities are not guaranteed to recover your file.

They work much better on recently deleted files, but what happens if your hard drive has physical damage or bad sectors?


4. The Expensive Option


If your hard drive crashed or if the 3rd party utilities fails to recover the file – your last option is to send the drive to a specialist.  They have much more advanced utilities to recover data.

In the event that your hard drive crashed – they can also rebuild it or replace the faulty components to get it working again. This option is expensive can cost anything from $500 (R5000) upwards.


When it comes to data protection – prevention is definitely better than a cure.


Read our previous blog about backups – and make sure you have reliable, up to date backups to prevent costly and time consuming data recovery.

If you have deleted files or if your drive has crashed and you are desperate to get the data back – contact us – we are data recovery specialists.


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