Why Can You Recover Some Lost Data but Fail to Recover Others

Why Can You Recover Some Lost Data but Fail to Recover Others?

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Oct 13, 2020 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

Recovering deleted files is not a myth. Yes, it’s possible to get your files back even after you get rid of them, and the same is true for files you even permanently delete. Just hop on Google and you’ll see scores of software that promise to get all your deleted data back. But here’s one question you should be asking yourself: How do these apps do it? Is it magic? Nope. This simple guide has the answer to an even simpler question:

What happens when you delete a file?

Deleted files can be quite sneaky. Even if you delete them from your hard drive, they are still right there, chilling somewhere in the drive. Even if you empty your Recycle Bin, the files don’t go anywhere because they are still not physically erased from the hard drive.

Look at your computer. Do you see all those files? Well, they’re all made up of infinite, tiny pieces of information. When you delete any of them, those bits aren’t erased along with the file; they still linger around, the information making up the files intact. Physically deleting files is a process that uses up more resources and as such, takes a significantly longer period to execute, so what’s the solution your operating system came up with? It takes a shortcut by only marking the deleted files as free space.

Hard disk partsDelete File

Curious as to how your operating system does that? It’s just a simple matter of your operating system tagging the files. This is what happens: To identify the location of files in the hard drive, your Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, or any other operating system gives them pointers. Anytime you get rid of a file, your operating system removes its pointer and marks it as free space but leaves the content of the file untouched.

What this means is that anytime you create a new file-or your operating system creates a new file it will be saved in the free space in the drive. This happens because your operating system recognizes the storage space that was once occupied by the file you deleted as free space for the storage of new data. But if this free space is usurped by new data; if your operating system stores new data on it, the original file is overwritten along with its content too. The end of all this is a very limited possibility of recovering the deleted file.

How Do You Recover Deleted Files from Your Drives?

So, do you now see that deleted files never truly leave your hard drives? Your operating system just marks them as free space, and that’s what makes it possible to recover them, regardless of the manner you lost the files in the first place. But you’ll need third-party software to do that, of course. Software like that was developed to find the content of the deleted data on your drives and then relocate their pointers; they can also copy the content and proceed to recreate the files in any storage location you select on your drive. To put it in simpler terms, file recovery software can instruct your Windows on where to find the deleted files and recover all of them.

Why Some Deleted Files Cannot Be Recovered Even If You Are Using an Excellent File Recovery Tool

Hard disk partsDelete File

Sometimes, even the most efficient software can’t recover your files because it’s simply NOT possible. If your Windows writes new data to space a deleted file once occupied, you can’t do anything but say ‘farewell’ to the original file because it can’t be restored at all. Why? The content of the original file doesn’t exist anymore because it has been overwritten by newer information.

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What to Be Careful For When Attempting to Recover Deleted Files

Have these two things at the back of your mind when you’re attempting to recover deleted files.

1Refrain from using the hard drive or the partition where the deleted files were found.

2Make haste and recover the files as soon as you can.


Once you delete files and continue using the hard drive they were once stored in, there’s a very high possibility the files will be overwritten by new data or information, and that makes it impossible to recover the deleted files. You don’t have to even copy anything to the drive because your operating system will do it for you; it can create temporary files on its own accord. It can also utilize the free space left behind by a deleted file. The longer you wait, the less your chance at a successful recovery, so be quick about it, yeah?

Be aware that you’re not advised to install file recovery software on the drive to be scanned for the deleted files. The simple reason is that even that installation can overwrite some parts-or even all-of the deleted files, which makes them unrecoverable. The solution? Install the file recovery software on a different drive or partition; better yet, if the software has portable variants that can be used from a USB stick, use them instead.


You’ve learned something today, haven’t you? You now know anytime you delete a file, it’s still in your drive, but other files can still overwrite it. The good thing here is as long as the space left by the deleted files is intact, data recovery software can restore all your files.

If you have questions on this matter, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’re always ready to entertain your questions. Just use the comments section below and we’ll promptly answer your queries.

Recoverit author

David Darlington

staff Editor

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