A Basic Understanding of Data Recovery

Here's how it happens. You're diligently working away on a document and then become distracted by a phone call or another interruption and just as you think you're saving your work you realize you've hit Delete instead of Save. Everyones done it at some point it time regardless of if whether it is deleting something in DOS or emptying the recycle bin without checking, possibly youve even experienced a hard drive crash, the question is, now what?


You've accidentally lost or deleted a file now what? The first thing to remember, while it may sound cliche, is to remain calm, think about your actions before making them. Acting without thinking at this juncture could end up costing you in the long run.

While it may seem obvious, the first place you should check is the Recycle Bin or Trash. If your deleted data is in there the data recovery is as simple as right-clicking on your document and selecting Restore from the menu. The Recycle Bin or Trash however can be finicky. Files deleted in DOS are a often omitted.


To better comprehend how hard drive data can be recovered, it helps to have a basic understanding of what happens with a deleted file. Within Windows, file data is stored in clusters. The size of these clusters is a result of the FAT (file allocation table) that has been set up. The FAT contains the links between clusters, when these are linked together they make up each file. Should this file become damaged, you may encounter basic file errors. Usually, the file can be put back together with a simple utility such as ScanDisk. An alternative you also have is to run the Undelete utility.

Its helpful to understand that just because you hit the Delete button your data is not actually removed from your hard drive. The data clusters remain unaffected however, the files directory location changes to point at the Recycle Bin. Even if you empty your Recycle Bin your data is still accessible. The actual data in the clusters is left intact but the entry for the file in the FAT is changed so those clusters are now free to be used again. This is indicated by the first character of the file name being changed.


Programs that can recover these files do so by searching through the FAT for entries that have been flagged, and also by scanning the hard drive for clusters that look like they may be files. The most basic of these programs used to be part of the Microsoft OS, namely the Undelete.exe, but since the introduction of the Recycle Bin, Microsoft has stopped supplying the program. There are loads of utilities out there that will perform a similar function under more recent versions of Windows.


What happens if you turn on your computer and it wont even go to Windows it crashes? Hopefully youll come up in Safe mode and you can back up important files from there. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case and your options are much more limited in DOS.

If you are without an external drive and only have a CD-RW, your chances of using it in DOS are not very likely, theres limited software to use even if you find drivers. Good quality back-up devices come with their own DOS drivers, just make sure you know where they are.

If you are lucky enough to have an external drive with DOS drivers, make sure you know where they are located since you wont be able to access the internet to download them once your machine has crashed. If you are unsure about this you may want to check the manufacturers web site.

If you've partitioned your drive, or if you have more than one hard drive in your machine, then the easiest way out of this situation is to use DOS Navigator to copy files from one logical drive to another. As long as you dont have a physical problem with your hard drive, the move will be safe from any formatting you need to do on your main drive.

Data RecoveryOur staff can help you ascertain the extent of your data recovery needs. It is very important that you do not try to solve the issue on your own. Doing so may make the situation worse and could possibly result in the total and permanent loss of you data. If you have a drive that is grinding, clicking or making a scraping noise shut it at once. If the drive continues to operate in this state it will very likely cause extensive damage to the media housed inside the drive. The longer a drive is allowed to run in this condition, the lower the chances are of being able to recover your data.