There are dozens of ways that files get accidentally deleted. They range from software glitches to good ol’ fashioned human error. Losing important information is sometimes scary and always frustrating. That in mind, it’s good to have a working knowledge of the basics of file recovery.
Recovering Files Then and Now
File recovery used to involve reading entire systems. This was a time-consuming process as the program scanned through a vast network of file systems on several different discs. Older recovery programs were also finicky and couldn’t search modified systems. As a result, there were many, many cases where lost information was rendered virtually irretrievable.
On the upside, older apps could sometimes restore files completely intact with their original formatting. This isn’t common now because of the sheer complexity of current file systems.
Modern Recovery Methods
Modern data recovery focuses on individual file types instead systems. Apps now work across many systems, even when the discs are formatted poorly or files have become corrupted. This sort of recovery also allows the software to scan files that don’t show up in finder or appear on your disk when using an app like disk utility.
A current recover app will search for common patterns in each of the filetypes that a volume supports. A preview feature will let you manually inspect each file and decide whether or not to restore it.
The main downside of the current method is that filenames, which are not part of a file’s content, often get lost during recovery. This is why you need to preview every file.
Current file recovery apps are at once pretty intuitive and user-friendly. Just follow a basic protocol, listen to the app’s instructions and you should be all set. An important first step however, is to stop affected discs This is because, while the file may have been deleted, its contents are still somewhere on the disc. Deletion doesn’t remove data, but simply allows it to be overwritten. If you’re careful not to save or introduce new files you can preserve that data.
Once this is done, simply download a data recovery program, scan for lost files, preview the contents of the files you find, and recover!
Hopefully this helps you out the next time you lose a file and need to get it back in a hurry.