There are all sorts of ways by which files get lost or deleted. Sometimes it’s a matter of carelessness or rash decision-making. This is probably the most common cause of lost files, but fortunately, is also the easiest to fix. Other times entire drives get corrupted and in the fallout, files are renamed and removed. Whether you were trying to jailbreak your iOS device or you simply hit the wrong keyboard shortcut, it pays to know the basic protocol for retrieving lost data.
A Very Brief History
File recovery used to involve reading the file system for each disk. Each file system was read individually in a belabored and time-consuming process because there are so many file systems within a computer. Another problem was that older recovery programs weren’t effective with file systems that had been modified. As a result, there were many, many cases where lost information was rendered virtually irretrievable.
Not everything was bad about the old way. In fact older apps could, on occasions, restore files completely intact with their original formatting. This is an impossibility now because of the sheer complexity of contemporary systems.
Modern File Recover
Modern data recovery singles out individual filetypes instead of entire filesystems. An app can work across many filesystems in an efficient manner, even when operating within previously formatted disks or corrupted files. 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 then allow the user to manually inspect each file and decide whether or not to restore it.
The only main downside of the current method is that filenames, which are not part of a file’s content, often get lost during recovery. This can be especially hard if your software doesn’t offer previews of the files about to be recovered–in this scenario you will essentially be guessing at what files you are retrieving.
Another great aspect of current file recovery apps is that they’re fairly 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 using the disk on which your lost file was stored. This is because, while the file may have been deleted, its contents may still be 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! It may not be the speediest process in the world, but its pretty straightforward.
That about sums up the basics. Hopefully it helps you understand what to do in the case of an emergency!
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