What to do when you Accidentally Delete a File

We’ve all been there, it’s not nice when the penny drops and you realise that the file you’ve been working on for days has disappeared. Where has it gone, how do you get it back, will the client give me an extension? All questions that need answering and with the wonders of computers you may find that you get a more positive outcome than expected (except for the extension…sorry!) The information below is for Windows based environments, sorry Mac and Linux users.

So in order of speed here are the best steps to take to find those documents:

  • Check your recycle bin, if it was a local file it will end up there first. Open the bin and see if it is in there. Then right click and restore.
  • If it was an office document, check your recent files, see if it’s there but in a location you weren’t expecting. Click and open to continue using it.
  • If the OS is post Windows Vista then you can check if Shadow Copy is enabled (click this link to find a post from tech republic that explains all for Vista, similar guides are available for Win 7 / 8). If so you can restore the document and happy days the deadline is going to be met.

If the document was on the network then recycle bin is no use and you’ll need to contact the network admin. Their choices include:

  • Shadow Copy, it’s available for server operating systems too and can be used to restore the file.
  • Backups – either online or tape, only problem here is that your version will be as old as the last backup. If the backup ran after the deletion and you don’t have multiple versions in place then it’s not going to be a positive outcome.

Aside from this you need to get your hands on some specialist software to restore (because even when a file is deleted it’s not really deleted straight away). I’ve used EaseUS with success but there are many others out there that do the same job.

Moral of the story, be very careful what you delete, and if you are going to do it then make sure your Microsoft OS is at the level that supports Shadow Copy and that it’s enabled. Alternatively look into some backup software that backs up each iteration of a file and creates backups accordingly.

Mac users – use Time Machine, bypasses all these issues outside of server side files.

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