Don’t you hate it when you accidentally have deleted a file and you realize later that you absolutely need it? If it went to the recycle bin, it’s easy to restore, but what if you permanently deleted it, with a Shift+Delete keyboard combination? Or you deleted it from a smartcard or USB? Like the wedding photo’s from last week?
Luckily, most times it is possible to recover those files. There are many tools that can help you do this. One of them is called Recuva, it is free and very popular. This tutorial will show how to recover deleted files using this application.
When you try to recover deleted files, it is very important to use the computer as little as possible to create or copy files on the partition/device where the deleted files were placed. That is because when a file has been deleted, the reference to it has been taken away, but the file is still there. If new files are created in the place of the ones you deleted, they will overwrite the old files, making it impossible to recover them.
So when you have want to recover a file from a partition, it is best not to install a program on the same partition, or download a movie, install a game, etc.
If you want to recover files from your "C:" drive, you should not install Recuva on that drive. But if you deleted some files from your smartcard or USB stick, you can install Recuva on your "C:" drive. No problem at all.
Downloading and installing Recuva
To ensure the best chance of success, Recuva now has a portable version. You can download the archive here.
Download it to an USB stick, right-click and extract its content.
After extraction, open the folder where Recuva is found and choose the version that suits your computer. Recuva.exe is the file you have to run if you have a system that is 32-bit. Recuva64.exe is the file you have to run if you have a 64-bit operating system installed.
Then the program opens with a wizard, that will guide you through the all the recovery steps.
If you chose to install the program, click on its shortcut and you will get the same "Welcome to the Recuva Wizard".
However the installer tries to convince you to install also Google Chrome. If you don’t want that, make sure you uncheck this option during the installation.
Recovering files with Recuva
Now that you have started the Recuva Wizard, let’s see what to do next.
First, choose the kind of files you have deleted. In this example I’ve deleted pictures, so I searched for pictures. Click Next.
Now you can define where you have deleted the files from.
Mine were in the My Documents folder.
If you know where you deleted the files from, try to be as specific as possible, since this will make the search time that the program needs to find deleted files, a lot less. When you don’t know, you can choose "I’m not sure", but you have to realise that the recovery process will take longer.
When done choosing the location, click Next.
Now you get to a screen from where you can start the scan for deleted files. There is a tickbox to enable "Deep Scan", which by default is unticked.
The first time you run the program I recommend you do the normal scan. Most of the time it will find your files just fine.
If it doesn’t, you can do the scan a second time and then you have to tick the box "Enable Deep Scan". This does take a lot longer though but it returns better results for files that have been deleted a long time ago.
Click Start and sit back to watch the magic happen.
The scan is split in two steps. It starts with the actual scan.
Then it analyses the files it has found.
And voila! When done, your deleted files appear.
Select the files you want to recover, right-click and select "Recover Highlighted". Or you check the box near each file you want to recover and then click the Recover button.
IMPORTANT: If you want to recover more files than you can check in one go, make sure you recover them to another medium than the drive/partition you want to recover them from. I wanted to recover files from my hard drive, so I recovered them to my USB stick.
When you want to recover files from a smartcard or USB stick you can recover them to your hard drive without a problem.
When done recovering, you can close the program.
Working in Advanced Mode
After the scan is made and you are shown the results, you can also switch to the so called advanced mode.
That will make the files found appear in a list, with information about their original location. You get also three tabs on the right side of the window, where you can preview files, read more info about them (size, state, creation time, etc). and view their header coded in hexadecimal.
If you want to recover all the files found, you can tick the box before Filename, which will select all the files from the list.
Recuva is a neat program that will easily help you to recover lost files, which is very useful if you accidentally deleted important files.
If you have any questions about the procedure, don’t hesitate to ask below.