Why Deleted Files Can Be Recovered?

Have you thought about the question of why deleted files can be recovered? Is it magic? In this article, we are going to explore the answers to our curiosity.

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Sep 14, 2021 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

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With the influx of relatively affordable data recovery software on the market, haven’t you ever wondered how these light but powerful software recover the lost data? Or once you have deleted some confidential files, how to ensure deleted files cannot be recovered?

Before answering the above questions, it’s wise to have a brief overview of what your Windows does when a file is deleted.


How Windows Deletes Files?

The tiniest unit of a disk is named as a sector, on which your files are stored as blocks of data. These blocks of data can be placed on the hard drive in two ways: Scattered randomly all over the hard drive’s surface, or organized sequentially.

Sector placement is determined by the block arrangement. It’s possible your system cannot identify uninterrupted sector blocks on which files can be stored in a continuous sequence. In the condition, your system will break up the file and write each part into free blocks.

Your Windows OS saves files on your drive and catalogs in the file system. In this way, records of the attributes, names, and sizes can be kept on the drive. Also, it keeps the exact data location on the drive, and that’s the most important operation.

Scattered randomly all over the hard driveScattered randomly all over the hard drive

Here’s something you might not be aware of:

  • Anytime you delete a file, Windows doesn’t get rid of the file. It doesn’t even alter the original data at all.
  • Our Windows merely alters the corresponding record in the file system to label the file as being ‘deleted’.
  • Both the file system and data aren’t erased. Deleted files are still on your system.

In other words, everytime you delete a file, Windows only makes a change to the file’s record in the file system, which then ‘frees up’ the space occupied by the file and marks it as being available. But this is just temporary because anytime your system needs space to write another file, it will utilize the available space and save a different file inside it. That’s when the actual data is truly gone.

But before all this, the data of the file you delete is still resting in your system, perfectly capable of being recovered. That’s what makes it possible for data recovery software to get all your deleted files back.

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How Tools Recover Files?

Simply speaking, the new disk is a newly bought notebook, which is empty. When we try to record something, we just choose an empty page and write down. This process is simple and clear.

However, if the hard drive is full, the notebook would be difficult to find certain content. In the condition, we would introduce a catalog to manage these contents. These catalog is quite similar to the file system, which helps us locate certain data in the disk.

Now we could understand the process of accessing data:

Step 1: Acquire the corresponding file catalog.

Step 2: Locate the storage space according to the catalog.

The absence of any step would cause data loss or corruption

We could learn these two data loss scenarios via two cases.

Case 1: File Deletion

During the process of deletion, the file catalog is deleted thus it would be invisible. In most cases, the system just erases the location information or simply mark the file as deleted.

let's take a notebook as an example, when we revise page 35 into page *5, we have to check all the 5-ended page to locate page 35 again. With the professional tool, we could locate the correct page and retrieve the deleted data.

This is the technical core of data recovery technology.

Case 2: Hardware malfunction

The reasons will be very complicated if your data gets lost because of hardware faults. For example, the storage device itself is corrupted, the hard disk platter has bad sectors, the chip is burned, etc.

If there are bad sectors in the hard disk, it will be much more difficult to recover data. Some necessary hardware equipment is needed.

If the storage media itself, like the hard disk platter and flash memory, is intact, there will be a larger possibility to recover your lost data. Usually, we regard storage device corruption as physical damage. However, if the problems are not related to the storage device, it will be seen as a logical failure.

For example, the sudden rain soaks your textbook heavily, and it becomes damaged physically. Your OS cannot find your file catalog, a logical failure happens.

How to Recover Data from Malfunctioned Hard Drive?

In the above two scenarioes, you cannot prevent your files from loss. Once you are traped in the problem of disappeared files, you can download Wondershare Recoverit and launch it to your desktop. Equipped with it, you can quickly retrieve files in three simple steps: Select-Scan-Recover.

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