Data recovery software (such as spotmau powersuite) has made it possible to recover deleted data sometimes weeks after a file has been lost. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the potential barriers to successful file retrieval.
Before using a data recovery tool, it is worth pointing out that if files have been deleted as a result of application faults or some form of operating system corruption (e.g. the registry has become corrupted file virus attack) then you are better off fixing a computer issue like this using computer maintenance software prior to attempting to use data recovery software.
Data recovery tools are capable of retrieving deleted documents due to the fact that file deletion will only alter a documents index in the file allocation table so that the document is no longer visible in Windows Explorer, but your files data clusters will still be intact. Your document is stored on the hard drive as data clusters located around the disk, and file recovery software can easily read these and try to reassemble them to form your original file.
Where the process starts to fall over is if you have been continuing to use the hard drive for applications. Any type of new file that is being created when using applications (this includes temporary Internet files) will be stored to the hard drive and can potentially overwrite the data clusters belonging to your deleted documents. While these clusters are not originally wiped from the drive, they are flagged to Windows as free to reuse for saving any new data. Over time, running applications and saving documents will gradually overwrite all your old deleted files.
You will also find that different data recovery tools will have varying capabilities for finding your deleted documents. Each program is developed independently of the next so use different logic to try and piece together data clusters (some are better than others at piecing together this jigsaw puzzle of data fragments). For this reason, you are better off using freeware applications (e.g. Smart Recover) or trying the free trial scans that come with commercial tools before committing to a product.