Accidentally Delete a File? Stop, Drop, and Roll!

Marcel BrownBefore I begin this tip, let me just reiterate the importance of having a good, tested backup. With a good backup you will be able to recover from almost any data disaster. Of course everybody reading this has a good, tested backup, right?. So this tip won’t really mean much to you, right, right? But please read on in case you run into a friend who doesn’t have a good backup.

If you ever accidentally delete an important file, the most important thing you can do is to immediately stop using your computer and get it to a qualified technical professional. The sooner you stop using your computer, the more likely it will be that your data can be recovered. This is because in most circumstances, when a computer deletes a file, it doesn’t actually delete (or wipe) the data off the hard drive. It simply removes the reference to where the file was stored on the hard drive. In essence, the computer is freeing up the spot on the hard drive were your file was stored to be used again later.

If you continue to use your computer, the odds increase that the computer will overwrite the spot on the hard drive where your deleted data was stored. Once this spot is overwritten with new data, the odds of recovery virtually drop to zero. Only highly specialized and expensive (thousands of dollars expensive) data recovery facilities with highly specialized and expensive equipment have any chance of recovering overwritten data and even then the odds aren’t great. But if you stop using the computer immediately, there is a good chance that your data is still in perfect condition on your hard drive. Most competent technology professionals will be able to recover deleted but not-yet-overwritten data without too much difficulty. Yes, you may still spend $200 to $300 for this service, but it’s better than a few thousand dollars, or worse, losing priceless data. But I can’t reiterate enough that if you have a backup of your file, then you could recover your own file very quickly and save yourself the aggravation.

So to remember this tip, just think stop, drop, and roll. If you accidentally delete an important file, stop what you are doing, drop the computer in your car, and roll it over to your technology professional! Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but you’ll probably remember it now, right?

Contact Marcel if you have any technology questions.