So, what do you have to do to get deleted files back?

First of all, don't panic! In most cases, your deleted files are recoverable and are not lost forever - even if you've emptied them from the Recycle Bin, or otherwise bypassed the Recycle Bin (i.e. by turning it off or pressing Shift+Del when deleting files from Windows Explorer). Chances are, your data is still somewhere on your hard drive. You just have to find it.

You may also read on how to recover files on other cases:
Photo Recovery from a Deleted, Damaged or Formatted Digital Camera Memory Card
HD Video Recovery from SD cards
Recovery from an External Device with a Damaged File System
R-Undelete: File recovery from a non-functional computer

There are some critical steps that you need to take to increase your chances for a successful recovery. But don't worry - you don't have to be a tech guru to recover your deleted files, nor do you have to pay hundreds of dollars to a data recovery specialist. In fact, our R-Undelete tool is designed specifically for computer novices like yourself. This uses some of the same powerful technology as R-Studio, our professional data recovery software, but it's packaged in an easy-to-use interface that, for most users, is more than sufficient for recovery of deleted files.

But before you download R-Undelete (or any other file recovery software), it's critical that you follow these "damage control" practices:

Before You Begin
Above all, it's important to minimize the amount of new data that your computer writes (saves) to your hard drive. To understand why, it's best to have a basic understanding of what happens when you delete files - either intentionally or accidentally. Essentially, Windows does not erase the data immediately. Instead, it marks the sectors on your hard drive as "deleted." This signals to other applications and programs that this space is available to be overwritten. In the meantime, all of your data - including some information about the filenames - may still be partially or completely intact on your disk. This is why it's possible to recover them.

However, there is always the chance that Windows may need that disk space to write new data. And once Windows overwrites the sectors on your hard drive that contain your "deleted" files, then they are gone forever.

The lesson: the sooner you begin file recovery and the less data you have written to the disk, the better your chances of successfully recovering your lost files.

Under normal use, keeping your computer from overwriting "deleted" files can be a challenge. Most accidentally deleted files reside on the system disk (usually C:\), which Windows is constantly using to write temporary files, system logs, browser history, etc. In other words, by using your computer normally, you are writing data to your disk.

So, our first and foremost advice is simple: stop actively using the computer where the deleted files resided. If you are downloading something on to the system disk, stop the download. Don't launch any programs, don't create and/or save any non-essential files, and restrict Internet browsing until the files have been successfully recovered. Don't even turn off or reboot your computer, if that's possible; Windows writes heavily to the system disk during startup and shutdown processes.

While there is no guarantee that your deleted files won't be overwritten, following the above guidelines significantly reduces your chances that this will happen.

Leave your computer running, but avoid using it. If you have access to another computer, use it for the next steps. Download R-Undelete on a secondary machine and copy it to an external storage device, such as a USB thumbdrive or a CD-RW.

If you already have a registration key for R-Undelete, make sure you write it down or copy and paste it into a text file saved onto your external media.

If you don't have it, you can use the demo mode of R-Undelete. In demo mode, R-Undelete will perform all data recovery tasks, including file search and disk scan. The only limitation is that it won't write recovered files larger than 64 KB. This is handy, since it allows you to explore your chances of successful recovery before purchasing the software. If R-Undelete finds the files you are looking for, you can register on-the-fly by entering the registration key at any point during the recovery process without losing your work.

Below, we've put together a step-by-step tutorial on how to recover deleted files using the portable version of R-Undelete. For this tutorial, we'll be recovering a folder (and its files) called "MyVacation" which was deleted from the Videos library.

To demonstrate R-Undelete's recovery capabilities, we'll begin by moving the "MyVacation" folder to the Recycle Bin. (This is just for demonstration purposes - you don't have to delete any additional files to complete this tutorial.)
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Here, you can see the folder in the Recycle Bin…
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...and then we'll empty the Recycle Bin. This same result could have also been achieved by pressing Shift+Del, or by having your Recycle Bin disabled when you deleted your files.
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When you press Shift+Del, the files bypass the Recycle Bin. This is the same as emptying the Recycle Bin immediately.
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Regardless of how your files were deleted, you can recover them with R-Undelete. You want to get back all those files.

Installing R-Undelete Portable
Step One
Connect the external media or device on which you've stored R-Undelete. In this example, we are using a USB flash drive. We'll run R-Undelete directly from this device and also save our recovered files to the USB drive.

Step Two
Start R-Undelete. To do so, go to the USB flash drive and double-click the run_en4p.exe file.
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R-Undelete will start installing itself to the flash drive.

Step Three Read and accept the License Agreement. Click the Next button when you are done.
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R-Undelete will start copying itself to the flash drive.
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Step Four
Enter the registration key and click the OK button. Or, click the Demo button to run R-Undelete in demo mode. (Remember: You can enter a registration key later without interrupting the recovery process.)
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R-Undelete will start automatically after your click OK or Demo.

Recovering Deleted Files with R-Undelete
Step One
Choose the disk where your deleted files resided. In this example, we'll be selecting the system disk C:\. If you're not sure which disk your deleted files were on, then chances are that it was C:\.
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Click the Next button.
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Step Two
Select "Fast search for lost files." Click the Next button.
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R-Undelete will begin searching for deleted files. This may take a while, depending on how large your hard drive is.
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Step Three
View the folder/file structure on your computer once R-Undelete finishes searching for deleted files.
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Look through the $Recycle.bin folder for your deleted files. Note that Windows 7 renames files and folders if they are placed on the second level within the $Recycle.Bin container, so be sure to search in each folder. As you can see here, the folder MyVacation was automatically renamed to $RNHEWD6.

In the right-hand panel, check the files you'd like to recover.
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Also, recall that we deleted some files from the MyPhotos folder without sending them to the Recycle Bin. You can find these in the original folder that they previously resided in. For example, the deleted files are in Root\MyPhotos. The deleted files are designated by a red cross over their icon. Mark them for recovery.
Click image to enlarge After you have selected all the files and folders you'd like to recover, click Next.

Other Methods for Finding Deleted Files
You can also find your files by sorting them by their types (extensions). To do so, click the Extensions tab along the bottom on the "Sorted by:" bar.
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You can also find files by searching for them manually. To do so, click the Find button.
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In the Find/Mark dialog, choose your search options and click OK. For more detailed instructions for creating manual searches, refer to the R-Undelete: Searching for a File online help section.
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Step four
After selecting which files you'd like to recover, you'll see the Specify Recovery Options window. Choose the output folder where you'd like to save your recovered files.

Recall that in this example, we're using our external USB drive.
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Click Recover.

Note: There are additional advanced recovery options on this window. Feel free to leave them blank if you aren't sure what they mean. For more details on advanced recovery options, refer to the R-Undelete: Recover Lost Files from Existing Logical Disks online help.

R-Undelete will start the file recovery.
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When recovery is completed, R-Undelete will show its final report.
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Step Five
To test whether the files were recovered successfully, navigate to the output folder you specified in Step Four and attempt to open your recovered files.
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Double-click a file to verify that it has been recovered and is playable.
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As you see, the file plays back normally. In this case, the files we're recovered with 100% success.

Running a Detailed Scan
If the fast search does not locate your deleted files, you can try running a detailed scan.

Step one Launch R-Undelete and choose your disk, as we did above.
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Step Two This time, choose "Detailed scan for lost files" in the Select Action panel. Click Next.
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Note: By default, "Enable File Types" is checked. For more information on scanning for known file types, refer to the R-Undelete: Detailed Scan online help.

Step Three
R-Undelete will start scanning. You can see the scan progress as R-Undelete analyzes your disk.
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When R-Undelete finishes the scan, it'll begin searching for deleted files.
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Once this process is complete, you can begin browsing the folder/file structure on your computer.
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Deleted files located using the detailed scan are placed in the "Extra Found Files" folder in their respective subfolders.
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Note: In this case, R-Undelete cannot recover file names and their folders. As such, the recovered files are automatically assigned filenames. However, the important data will likely still be intact.

Now you can recover the files as we did before, by marking them for recovery and clicking Next.

So, as you can see, file recovery using R-Undelete is easy enough, even for tech novices. Running R-Undelete will not damage your hard drive or significantly impact your computer. As such, it's definitely worth it to give R-Undelete a shot before you invest in professional data recovery services.

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