Deleted file recovery

How to recover deleted files with CnW data recovery software

Most operating systems do not delete the data of a file when asked to delete a file. Instead, the directory entry is marked as deleted, and the space used by both the directory entry, and the data  can then be used by newer files. If nothing else is written to the disk, then the data can be recovered. If new files have been written to the disk, then there is always a possibility that deleted files may be overwritten, or partially corrupted.  Download free demo

Video file recovery

    Video files from camera memory behave very differently to those saved on the hard drive.  Please follow the following link to video recovery for special methods to recover data.

Deleted FAT files

    With a FAT disk, the first byte of the directory entry is changed to be the value E5H.  This overwrites the first character of the file name, but compared with loosing the file, this is not too important. On a FAT disk, at the same time as marking the directory, the FAT is cleared down. This can be serious as the file allocation table indicates where the data is stored.  The directory stores the location for the start of the file, and short files are normally contiguous, and so a good guess will be to read the file as a sequential file. For a long file, it is common for them to be fragmented and manual joining together of the files may be required.

    CnW Software has some very powerful features that allow it to recover files that have been deleted from a FAT32 disk.  When deletion takes place, part of the cluster pointer for the start of the file is also deleted, and many data recovery programs cannot cope with this.  At first sight they appear to work, but only recover corrupted versions of a file. CnW Recovery routines have overcome this problem and produced a result that is very accurate, where ever the data is stored on the disk.

Deleted NTFS Files

    An NTFS disk is normally slightly easier to recover. The directory entry (part of the Master File Table, $MFT) has a flag to indicate that the file has been deleted. The directory entry also stores pointers to the first 20 or so fragments of a file. This number is very varied, but for a file with only a few fragments, total recovery will be possible. Some NTFS file can have thousands of fragments, and extra chains are stored in other MFTs. The chance of automatic recovery is limited, but may be possible if nothing else has been written to the disk after deletion.

    With NTFS deleted file recovery, the program does 2 passes of the disk.  The first will restore files that are currently on the disk, and the second pass will recover files that are marked as deleted. This way, it is possible to tell if sections of the deleted files have been overwritten by more recent data.  When files are recovered, they are stored in new directories indicating that the data was originally deleted, or has possibly been overwritten. All such files should be treated with caution as it is possible the data may have been corrupted


    Unfortunately, when the Macintosh deletes a file, it also removed the old metadata in the directory.  There is no way that the directory information can be reconstructed.  The only approach is therefore to use raw recovery methods, and hope that critical files are not fragmented.

Raw recovery for deleted files

    If a disk is fairly full, then it is quite possible for the directory entry to be re-used. In this case, the recovery methods described above will not recovery deleted files, but there is a final method that can be used. The disk is scanned for unallocated blocks, and each block is analyzed to see if it is a recognised file start. If such a start is found, then a new file is restored with a dummy name, and a recognised file extension. There is therefore a chance that apparently totally lost pictures, or documents may be recovered. This may be viewed as a final attempt, but there is nothing to lose by trying, and sometimes, it may save the day.

Undelete issues

    CnW does not ‘believe’ in Undelete.  This is a very dangerous concept as it breaks the first rule of data recovery that nothing must be written to the drive being recovered.  CnW have seen the results of many such programs, and often the issue was that the original file had been overwritten by other undeleted files.


    CnW Recovery software has the option to recover deleted files when recovering the disk. Each options menu has a check button for Recover Deleted files, and also unallocated space.  The wizard also has flags to allow recover of deleted files.  If a file is known to be deleted, then by not writing any new files to the disk, recovery rates can be extremely high.

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