Deleting those files forever.

If you followed my posts on un-deleting files, you now know that when you delete a file, you can often recover it.  A reader asked in email

“So can you delete files forever, by formatting?”

No, and let me show you why.  I’ll “Quick format” & “also “Format” a USB stick, and demonstrate that you can still recover files.  Then I’ll show you what I do to wipe a disk clean.

“Quick” & Full Formatting
Quick formatting, or even Full formatting,
Quick FormatFull formatting

it makes no difference, you can still recover files.

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15 un-delete programs, a list

Only 3 that I would recommend, and 2 I didn’t test.

Found yourself in the “Oh crap, I’ve just delete some files by mistake”  moment?  I did recently, and it spurred me on to update this list I created in 2008.

Some terminology

I’d use it Yes means it found all 19 jpg files I accidently deleted.
No means it didn’t find all those files and/or the program crashed.
Free Free as in Free and/or Free, but the developer accepts donations.
Have to install? Do you have to install the program onto your computer.  No is preferred.


I’d use it

Program Free? Have to install? Quick Review
Recuva Yes Yes 19 Feb 2010
File Scavenger v3 No Yes 23 Feb 2010
Active@ Undelete No Yes 23 Feb 2010

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3 un-delete programs I’d actually use.

Not that I’d actually WANT to, but if I had to, it’ll be one of these four three.  And truth is, I would probably use several of these programs if I’ve really need to get the data back.

How I tested.
Well I deleted 19 photos from mistake from a USB stick, and wanted them back.  It started from there.  16 programs later, I had my photos back, and the idea for a couple of blog posts.

Recuva is damn good.  I would have selected it over DiskDigger, except that you need to install it.  Needed to use “deep scan” mode to recover all 19 photos.  I’d use this as my second choice if DiskDigger failed for me.

File Scavenger
File Scavenger 32
File Scavenger has two modes, Quick Mode, and Long Mode.  Quick Mode found 18 photos.  Long Mode found the 19th.  Quick Mode will preserve the original filenames.  Long Mode does not.
You need to install the program to use it.  You can Preview the files File Scavenger has found, before you actually recover them.
You need to purchase the program to actually recover your files.

Active@ Undelete
Active AT Undelete
If I had to really recover files, and the free programs didn’t work, Active@ Undelete would be the program I’d put money down for.  I found the scan to be very comprehensive.

Update 4th August 2010: Can no longer recommend DiskDigger

DiskDigger has a clean, easy to understand interface.  You don’t need to install this program onto your hard disk, which means you could run this from a USB stick.
Only downside?  It doesn’t detect what the original filenames were.  Not the only program to do that amongst the bunch I looked at. But heck, I’d still use it, as it’s free/donation ware.

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The “I’ve just deleted some photos ‘Oh Crap!'” moment

So, I deleted 19 photos off my USB stick that I shouldn’t have, it was one of those “oh crap!!!” moments.  As soon as I deleted the files, waahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Seemed like a good opportunity to check out the programs I have listed in 10 free programs to recover deleted files.   I’d be interested if you have any other recommendations.  Here are the results of 3 programs I tried with Windows XP:

Crashed on the scan of the USB stick, so I’d mark this as a fail.  Program was last updated in 2004, so no chances of any support there.
Restoration undelete program

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