3 ways to recover overwritten files

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3 ways to recover overwritten files
3 ways to recover overwritten files

If you've unintentionally emptied your Trash or formatted your hard drive, don't panic. It is still possible to recover your data. Certain free software as well as the restoration of your system can allow you to find your information.


Method 1 of 3: Use the software PhotoRec

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Step 1. Stop using your hard drive

The data is saved on hard drives. When you delete files, the corresponding location is freed up and reused for new data. Limiting writing to disk makes it easier to find lost information. To do this, do not save any more files and close all your processes.

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Step 2. Download the PhotoRec utility

This data recovery software is very effective. It can restore dozens of file types on any storage media. Download the software for free from the publisher's website or via a specialized site. Be sure to save it to a different hard drive than the one you want to explore or, for added security, to an external storage device.

  • The software PhotoRec is cross-platform. It is therefore compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems.
  • If you do not have direct access to the utility PhotoRec, download the software TestDisk. Indeed, the application PhotoRec is distributed with the latter, the two software being complementary.
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Step 3. Obtain a blank USB flash drive

Ideally, its storage capacity should be sufficient to contain the software. PhotoRec as well as all the data to be recovered. This is to prevent data from being overwritten to the disk and to prevent media corruption during recovery.

Note that the software is relatively light since it only takes 5MB

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Step 4. Unzip the installation file

When the download is complete, the software TestDisk is available in a format zip under Windows or BZ2 under Mac OS X. Using decompression software such as 7-Zip Where IZArc, extract the files.

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Step 5. Copy the software to your USB drive

You can also extract the files directly to the stick. You will be able to use the software from the key without touching the hard drive.

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Step 6. Insert the key into your computer to recover the data

Open the software TestDisk then select the application Photorec.

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Step 7. Launch the PhotoRec utility

You access a command screen under Windows or a console under Mac OS X. If you are new to computers, this presentation can be unsettling, but it is accessible.

You do not need to type any command lines. You simply need to select your options using the arrows on the directional pad. You can confirm your choices or not using the Enter and Return keys on your keyboard

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Step 8. Select the media to scan

All detected media are displayed as a list. These are not identified by name, it can be difficult to choose the media to scan. To find it, refer to its storage capacity.

  • If your hard drive is partitioned, which it usually is, you need to select it before you can view the partition. For example, in Windows, the hard drive is often divided into two local drives identified by the letters VS:

    and D:, which does not necessarily appear on the software.

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Step 9. Choose the partition to scan

Select the partition type, noted [Intel] under Windows and [Mac] under Mac OS X. Then indicate the partition to scan. If you want to work on the whole disk (whole disk), choose the first option in the list. It can be marked No partition or empty. If you know the partition to scan, select it.

  • If you don't know the partition, it is better to choose one at a time to avoid system corruption.
  • Once you have chosen your partition, you can skip the next step by typing Enter on your keyboard, as the [Search] entry is selected by default. If you want to configure the search, stay on the page.
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Step 10. Configure the search

At the bottom of the page, the [Options] menu allows you to change some settings, but the default choices suit most of your use of the software. The [File Opt] menu gives you access to all types of scanned files. By default, all extensions are selected, but you can choose the ones that interest you. Deselect all the options by pressing the S key on your keyboard then browse through the list. Specify the extensions to search for by pressing the Enter key. Save your settings by pressing the B key. Note that it is not always useful to sort the extensions, unless you are running out of space for the restored files. Moreover, doing a full search also helps to recover fragmented files.

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Step 11. Choose the file system

In principle, the software automatically chooses the correct format. If there is no fragmentation, the [Other] entry is highlighted. If you are working under Linux, choose the entry [ext2 / ext3].

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Step 12. Then choose the part of the media to scan

Depending on the source of the lost files, you can scan the entire media or just the free space.

  • If improper handling is the cause of the problem, choose [Free]. The software then only scans the free space. You will only recover inaccessible files, normal files are excluded from the search.
  • If the system is corrupt, select [Whole] to recover as much data as possible.
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Step 13. Select the save location

By default, the software proposes the current directory. Be careful not to choose it, as you may overwrite the data that you just want to recover.

  • Use the directional pad to choose your backup directory. To select the main medium, refer to the.. symbol at the end of the line.
  • Press the C key to confirm your backup directory.
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Step 14. Let the recovery process take place

As you go, the files recovered, the number of bytes analyzed as well as the estimated time remaining are displayed. A message alerts you if the backup space is insufficient.

Depending on your settings, the process time can vary from a few seconds to several hours. Please be patient and do not use your computer while the process is in progress

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Step 15. Access your files

When the scan is complete, the number of recovered files is displayed. You can access it in the destination folder. You will find as many subfolders as recovered files, all named on the template recup_dir. This does not make it easier to identify a specific document, but you can find it using the search bar.

Method 2 of 3: Use the software Recuva

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Step 1. Stop using the affected hard drive

As soon as your files are deleted or erased, close all your programs and applications. Do not save any documents. This precaution will make data recovery easier.

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Step 2. Download the Recuva software

A free version is available on the website of the publisher Piriform. Download the software installation file to a local drive other than the one to be analyzed or to an external storage medium.

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Step 3. Insert a blank USB drive

Use external media to install the software Recuva allows you to run it without taking the risk of rewriting data to the hard drive.

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Step 4. Install the software

Software version 1.53 has a clean installation. Double-click the installer file icon to start the process. Then click on Execute.

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Step 5. Choose your installation options

The software's default language is English. Modify this option by choosing French from the drop-down menu at the top of the window. Then click on Install.

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Step 6. If necessary, change the destination folder

To change the destination folder for the installation file, cut and paste it on your external storage media. Make this change before starting the installation.

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Step 7. Uncheck unnecessary options

During software installation, options may be checked by default. For example, you may be offered to install the browser Google chrome. Uncheck these options before continuing with the installation.

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Step 8. Open the Recuva app

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Step 9. Create a new document

Right click on the desktop and choose New then Text document.

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Step 10. Name the file

Name it portable.dat. If necessary, confirm the choice of extension.

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Step 11. Open your software

If you downloaded and installed the application from another computer, recover the USB drive containing the software and insert it into the affected computer.

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Step 12. Start the recovery

Open the application with a double click. You can also right click and then click Execute as administrator. This launches the software wizard. Click on Following to continue the process.

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Step 13. Choose the files to recover

The operation is simple. All you need to do is check the file types that interest you. You can opt for an extensive search by selecting All the files. If you are looking for pictures, sound files, documents, videos, compressed files or emails, check the corresponding box. Note that if you are targeting your search, you can only select one type at a time. Click on Following to confirm.

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Step 14. Select the location of the lost files

If you know where the data was, enter the path by selecting the option In a specific location then To explore. You can also scan an external storage medium such as a memory card. If you don't know where your files were, you can search the whole computer by selecting I am not sure. Go to the next stage.

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Step 15. Start the scan

Click on To start up to start the recovery process.

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Step 16. Select the files to restore

At the end of the scanning phase, the software displays the list of files that can be recovered. Select the ones that interest you and click on To recover. A colored point precedes each element to indicate the possibility of restoration. A green button indicates that the file can be recovered. An orange dot indicates that the possibility of recovery is low while a red indicator indicates that the file is irretrievably corrupted.

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Step 17. Create a destination folder for the recovered files

In the file Recuva, create a sub-folder in which all your recovered files will be saved. Make sure it is not on the drive you want to extract data from. However, if you have recorded your program on a different disc than the one to analyze, there is no risk.

Method 3 of 3: Recover an older version of the files

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Step 1. Restore the previous version of your file

If your file is corrupted or unusable, you can try to restore an older version. In Windows, right-click on the file icon then select Restore previous versions. If restore points have been formed since your file was created, you can choose the latest usable version.

  • If your entire system is unstable or corrupt, you can perform a full restore. To do this, click on Control panel > System and security > Maintenance center > Recovery. Click on Open System Restore then choose a restore point.
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Step 2. Open the Time Machine feature on Mac

To use it, you must first configure it. To do this, you must use an external hard drive as a backup drive by connecting it to your computer. Backups are then performed periodically.

  • To use Time Machine In order to recover data, start the feature and find the files in the list offered. Refer to the backup date and time information to choose the correct version. Then restore the file.

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