Tech Tip: Retrieving Data Once It’s Been Deleted

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Chances are you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have accidentally deleted an important file. However — depending on the scenario — it’s possible that you can restore the data. Below, we’ll walk you through the processes required, just in case you find yourself scratching your head over a potentially deleted file.

Step One: Stop Creating More Data

When a file is deleted, it usually isn’t deleted immediately. The file is hidden away, only to be replaced and overwritten by new files. If you are trying to find lost or misplaced files, you should avoid installing any software, streaming media or downloading anything further. You don’t want the files to be overwritten while you’re trying to find them.

Step Two: Check Your Recycle Bin or Deleted Items

Any deleted files you have will find their way into the Recycle Bin, and there’s a pretty good chance that you can find them there. To see if they are where you think they are, you can use the Search Recycle Bin option, which will show the contents. You can even Sort by Date Deleted. This is only if the file deleted was on a local computer. As for cloud storage services, you might find the deleted files in a cloud trash bin, from where you could possibly restore the file.

Step Three: Check That the File Wasn’t Just Misplaced

It might be possible that the deleted file actually hasn’t been deleted at all, and it’s instead located in a different folder or location than you think. This is where File Explorer’s Search function is particularly helpful. Just make sure that the file is still located somewhere else on the computer; it can save you quite a bit of time if it is.

Step Four: Turn to Your Backup Solution

The reason you have a backup solution in place is to make sure that any mistakes, whether they are entirely your fault or from something outside your control, are able to be undone. Your data backup solution should be able to help you recover anything you need, even if it’s something as small as a file being lost; it would be quite silly to not have a solution like this in place.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.

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