The file is gone. It's not in the recycle bin. You've done a complete search of your files for it, and now the panic sets in. It's vanished. You may have even asked people to look through their e-mail because maybe you sent it to them (you didn't). Oops. Now what?
Hours, days, maybe even years, of hard work seem to be lost. Wait! Don't touch that PC! Every action you take on your PC at this point may be destroying what is left of your file. It's not too late yet. You've possibly heard that things that are deleted are never really deleted, but you may also think that it will cost you thousands of dollars to recover deleted files once you've emptied the recycle bin. Suffice it to say, unless you are embroiled in complicated e-Discovery or forensic legal proceedings where preservation is a requirement, recovering some deleted files for you may cost no more than a tune-up for your car.
Now, as for the part where I told you: "Don't touch that PC!" I meant it. Seriously: Don't touch that PC. The second you realize you've lost a file, stop doing anything. Don't visit any Web sites. Don't install software. Don't reformat your hard drive, do a Windows repair, or install undelete software. In fact, if it's not a server or running a shared database application, pull the plug from the back of the PC. Every time you "write" to your hard drive, you run the risk that you are destroying your lost file. In the case of one author we helped, 10 years of a book were "deleted." With immediate professional help, her files were recovered.
Whether you accidentally pulled your USB drive from the slot without stopping it first (corrupting your MFT), intentionally deleted it, or have discovered an "OS not found" message when you booted your PC, you need your files back and you need them now. However, if you made the mistake of actually overwriting a file with a file that has the same name and thereby replacing it, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." Your file is trashed and all that may be left are some scraps of the old file, parts that didn't get overwritten but can be extracted from file slack. If your hard drive is physically damaged, you may also be looking at expensive recovery.
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By: Scott Ellis