In this article we will look at the step-by-step ways for how we can recover deleted files (pictures, documents etc) using a free program called Recuva. The program is capable of recovering files that you may have deleted on either your computer or an external device such as your camera’s memory card, your iPod or your external USB drive. What is also impressive is that it can also recover data from a drive that has been accidentally formatted, or the drives index has been damaged resulting in the files seemingly having vanished.
Please note that if you have simply deleted the files on your Windows machine into the Recycling Bin, and haven’t emptied it yet, the files should still be there. Just open the Recycling Bin up, highlight your files and choose Restore. Files deleted from a USB device don’t get sent to the recycled bin.
One thing to bear in mind though when you are attempting to recover data from your device, is that you should not try to use the device for storage until you have recovered said data as you will could be overwriting the documents that you are trying to get back, making recovery harder. If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself, then you may wish to send the unit away to a professional company that deals with data recovery.
Recuva requires that you are also able to see the device when it is attached to the computer. This program is for Windows users only. The latest version of Recuva (v 1.48) was released on 12th August 2013 and now offers UDF drive support. If you require a portable version of the program, then you can download that here. The portable version is great for people who are not able to install executable programs on to the computer, or you are going to visit a family member and they don’t have an internet connection from which to download the program. The zipped .exe file can then be executed on the USB stick and run from there without leaving any traces on the host computer.
For this example, I have a USB drive that I have some documents on. (word files, PDF’s, JPG’s, TIFF files etc) I then deleted the data and formatted (quick format) the drive so as to give the program a decent test. In total I placed approximately 70 items onto the USB, but you will see when I run the program that it will find many more that can be recovered as they haven’t been written over yet.
Now depending on the size of the device that you are attempting to recover files from, the process can take anywhere between a few minutes to many hours. Also, you will need to have enough space either on your computer or another external drive onto which to place the recovered files. For example, if you are trying to recover data from an external drive that is 500GB in size then the recovery process will take a while and you will also need somewhere with at least 500GB to copy the recovered files to.
Download and install Recuva. It’s free.
Once you open the program, you will be greeted by the main window. Hit Next to proceed
Select which types of files you wish to recover. For me, I want to recover any data that may be available on the drive, so I chose All Files.
Now you will need to tell Recuva where the device is that had the files on. Hit Browse and select the drive.
Now that the drive is correctly showing, hit Next
Just before the program starts its scan, it will ask if you wish to perform a quick scan or a deep scan. Check the box next to Enable Deep Scan so that a thorough scan will be made.
Hit Start to begin the scan. Depending on the size of the drive you are checking this may take a while. If you are doing this on a laptop, make sure that you have enough battery juice left for the task to complete. It would be better to have the power cable plugged in just in case it does run out whilst the program is running.
Once the scan has finished, you will be presented with a window showing you the files that it was able to recover (green) as well as those that were overwritten and unrecoverable (red). Check the box next to Filename to select all the files. You may want to also filter the recoverable files form the unrecoverable one too, so hit the State column (top right) to filter. Uncheck any unrecoverable ones and hit Recover.
Once you hit Recover, the program will ask you where you wish to recover the files to. Browse to the folder or drive and hit OK. This will immediately start to recover any files that it can to the specified location.
When the recovery process has completed you will see the confirmation window.
I hope that helps.
Note: If you want to start Recuva in Advanced Mode them when you first open the program, check the box next to Do not show this wizard at startup. Hit Cancel and then close the program. Now open the program again to see the advanced features.