Recovering Files On A Budget

We have all at one time or another found ourselves in the all too familiar conundrum of having accidentally deleted a file or two. These unfortunate actions force us to sometimes recreate the files from scratch and God forbid you delete an academic thesis that is due the next day.  I always remind people to backup their data. Why, if I had a church, the first commandment I would preach about to my congregation would be, “Thou shall backup all important files”. Sometimes though, unfortunate events such as a power outage or absent-minded manipulation of files could result in important data being lost. Fear not however, before you go running off to some firm that may charge you bucket loads of money, you should know that there is a cheaper alternative.


What to do before trying to recover files

When you delete data on your physical storage devices such as flash disks or hard drives, it does not really get deleted. Instead, the data is marked in a special manner that makes it undetectable to your computer.  Hence, when you plug-in the device, the computer reads the disk as not having the deleted data.

The moment you realize you have accidentally deleted a file you need to halt everything at once. Avoid copying or writing data to the doing so may “contaminate” it and reduce the chances of a successful recovery. The reason deleted data is marked as invisible is to allow the computer to know that it is safe to overwrite it much like how buildings scheduled for destruction are marked with an “X” so the demolition teams can know it is safe to demolish. So if you did copy something onto the drive, the computer may assume that your important file is not needed and get rid of it to make room for the new data.

There is free software that are capable of restoring this “deleted” data thereby restoring it for use by the user. I personally employ the use of a freemium software named Recuva by Piriform which is designed for the Windows OS (Operating System). It is a very handy tool and has come to my aid on numerous occasions.


How do I recover data?

Recuva like most software, comes with an easy to use wizard that will guide you through the installation process. Once it is done it will launch a recovery wizard to guide you through the recovery process.


Click “Next >” and you will be prompted to select the type of data you wish to recover. In this my case, I chose to recover all types.


On the next screen, you will select the location in which you would like to search and recover deleted data. For this demo, I used a flash drive.


You will then be informed that the software is ready to begin the recovery process. For the initial scan, it is best to leave the “Deep Scan” check box unchecked. This will save you time and in some cases you find it is unnecessary.


Click “Start” and the software will proceed to scan the selected location for deleted files.


On completion, the list of deleted files will be displayed with colors on their left to indicate the state of the file.

  • Green – file can be fully recovered and will function normally.
  • Amber – file can be recovered but may not function normally like in the case of a video file, the file may open but it will have some lag in various sections. If you are lucky however, the files will operate normally.
  • Red – file can be recovered but will not function normally. The file may not open or may contain corrupt data.



Select the files you wish to recover and choose the location to which you want them copied to. You cannot recover files from a drive and send them to the same drive. That would be like saving items from a burning house only to throw them back in again. The data could be corrupted and you could lose it completely.


When you are ready, begin the recovery process.


When the process completes, it will indicate how many files were recovered both fully and partially.



Recuva is a tool I highly recommend to anyone handling important or sensitive data on their machines especially students. I have had the misfortune of deleting a file by accident on more than one occasion before discovering it. Those were dark days. However, while this tool does come in handy, it should only be a last resort. I still urge you to use backups. Have a look at my previous posts on 7 Best Online Data Backup Options and 7 Best Offline Data Backup Options.

Prevention is better than cure.

You can also have a look at the data recovery alternatives below.

  1. Pandora Recovery
  2. Hetman Partition Recovery
  3. TestDisk
  4. Disk Drill
  5. EaseUS Data Recovery
  6. Stella Phoenix Windows Data Recovery
  7. Wise Data Recovery
  8. TOKIWA Data Recovery
  9. MiniTool Power Data Recovery
  10. Zero Assumption Recovery
  11. R-Studio Data Recovery
  12. Handy Recovery


Should these tools fail to recover your files however, you can seek out help from a professional firm that specializes in data recovery like East African Data Handlers. Just make sure you are financially prepared and that the data is actually worth the effort.

Well, with that said I hope you learned something new. Leave a comment down below on what you think and do share this with a friend. It may just help them out.

Till next time. Arrivederci.

K.O. Su.