Sometimes, things seemingly go from bad to worse when youâre dealing with data. Itâs easy to mistakenly delete important documents, videos or photos. So, what do you do if you accidentally delete that once in a lifetime moment you captured on video?
Donât worry, tech to the rescue again. Thatâs why you are going to love having this lifesaver of a program in your arsenal.
This free data recovery software is designed to revive lost files including videos and documents from hard disks, CD-ROMs, and lost pictures from digital camera memory (CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/SD, SmartMedia, Microdrive, MMC, etc.).
PhotoRec ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your mediaâs file system has been severely damaged or reformatted. In most cases, PhotoRec can recover an entire file with no problem.
Note: Do not save any files onto your computer after you notice that a photo or document is missing or was accidentally deleted. Saving files overwrites your hard drive with more information, which makes it more difficult to recover the deleted file.
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PhotoRec works by combing through your hard drive, looking for the bits of data that make up the document or photoÂ that was deleted. When all the bits of information are gathered, PhotoRec can put them back together, and voila it reassembles your document.
Remember, if not enough of the itemâsÂ data can be recovered, then it is lost and not even PhotoRec can get it back. Itâs very important that you stop everything to recover your itemÂ the moment you discover that itâs gone.
This means that when you run PhotoRec, you need to send the recovered data to a different storage device than the one itâs searching because you will overwrite and corrupt the data youâre searching for.
To download the program, click here to navigate to the PhotoRec download page. Once there, click the download link in the upper left corner and then click on the large green button labeled âTestDisk 7.2 Free download.â
Note: PhotoRec is paired with a program called TestDisk that recovers lost partitions and makes non-booting disks bootable again. To use TestDisk, you can learn how with the step-by-step instructions here.
When the download is finished, extract the files from the zipped folder. After you extract the files, open the folder and locate the PhotoRec_Win application.
Before you continue, you should create a new folder on your desktop to hold the files that PhotoRec recovers. Label it something easy to identify like âPhotoRec recovered files.â
When you run PhotoRec for the first time, donât despair. I know that this stripped-down program looks scary, but if you follow the step-by-step instructions you can recover the files you need without mishap.
You will need to use the arrow keys and the enter button to navigate the program once itâs open. The first screen will show the available drives for scanning. This will also include USB and connected external drives if they are plugged in.
Select the drive that you want to scan by using the arrow keys and hit the Enter button to make the selection. Itâs faster to scan a partition of the storage device instead of the entire thing.
After the drive to be scanned has been selected, like your camera storage card, PhotoRec needs to know the file system type it will be searching. It will default to the âOtherâ selection, we recommend using the default selection unless you know that your system is a different type.
When you reach the screen that says âPlease choose if all space needs to be analyzedâ select the âFreeâ option to scan only the NTFS unallocated space. This means that PhotoRec will be searching recently vacated spaces for photos or documentsÂ that were just lost due to accidental deletion.
The next screen will ask you to select a drive for the recovered files to be sent. Use the arrow keys to scroll up and down the list, and tap the left arrow key to go all the way back to your main hard drive â labeled C: â to access any folder.
You should navigate back to your C: drive and go to Documents and Settings > DesktopÂ to find the folder you created on your Desktop before you startedÂ PhotoRec. When the correct file is identified, press âCâ on the keyboard to make your selection.
PhotoRec will start scanning the selected drive right away. There are usually a lot of files to scan, so it can take upwards of 15 to 30 minutes.
This is normal,Â let PhotoRec perform the scan without interference. But if the scan is projecting to take longer than a couple of hours, then you may have accidentally selected to scan your entire computer drive or an unpartitioned drive on your computer.
In that case, press Enter to stop the PhotoRec process and go back to the main screen.
Note: If you run into any trouble with the program, you can check out the FAQ page hereÂ or the Step-by-Step page here.
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