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Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

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Recovering from accidentally deleting a file

Deleting a file isn’t necessarily permanent. If you have simply moved a file to the trash can (Recycle Bin on Microsoft Windows), then you can recover it by simply dragging the file out of the trash. However, if you have since emptied the trash you will need specialised software to recover the file. The good news is that the data is still on the disk, the bad news is that the operating system cannot find it again. Fortunately, special file recovery software exists that can restore deleted files. Find out about the software available from About Technology’s article 19 Free Data Recovery Software Tools [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Stop using the computer immediately you realise the file has been deleted. The less time that has elapsed between deleting a file and trying to recover it, the greater your chance of recovering the whole file. If significant amounts of time have passed, only a partial recovery may be possible, or it may not be possible to recover the file.

You then need to install a file recovery program (some file recovery applications can be run from an optical disk or a flash memory drive). A good selection of free file recovery applications can be found on About Technology. Run the file recovery application once you’ve installed it.

Note: Because of a difference between the way in which Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS store files on a disk, file recovery is much easier for Windows computers than Macs. A number of file recovery applications exist for the Mac, but there is much less selection than for Windows.

Once you’ve got your file back you might want to review your data backup strategy to prevent a future accident.