What Are Some Ways to Recover Deleted Data?

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Methods of recovering deleted data include checking the recycling bin, restoring files from cloud storage, restoring previous versions of the data through Windows, using specialized file-recovery software and hiring professional help. While recovering deleted data is usually impossible in solid-state drives, it is often possible in traditional magnetic hard drives. When a user either intentionally or accidentally deletes data in a magnetic hard drive, data is still present on the drive until it is overwritten.

In some cases, users may believe they deleted a file when in actuality they misplaced it. Using the operating system's search function can detect whether the file is still present on the hard drive. In Windows, deleted files are sent to the Recycle Bin first, where users can recover them by right clicking on the files in question and selecting Restore. Certain programs, such as CCleaner, may empty the Recycle Bin when running, making recovery more difficult.

Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive are popular cloud services that allow users to recover data by logging into the respective websites and checking for deleted files. Although this method is similar to the Windows Recycle Bin method, files may not always be recoverable from the cloud. In Windows 7 and newer versions, users can sometimes restore files deleted from the Recycle Bin by right clicking on the original folder and selecting Restore Previous Versions. Users should consider powering off the hard drive before attempting recovery; as the machine continues to run, it becomes more likely to overwrite data. Professional data recovery may be required if the data is particularly sensitive or valuable.