Can You UN-erase a File or Folder?

Category: Software

A reader asks: “I accidentally deleted two folders that contained some very important files. I tried one of those free undelete programs, but it didn't find my files. Can you recommend a more powerful recovery tool? I'm willing to spend a few bucks if it really works.” Yes, I do have a recommendation. Read on to learn about this data recovery power tool...

DiskInternals: Data Recovery Power Tools

When you accidentally delete an important file, or your hard drive crashes and you lose data, you may turn to one of many free "undelete" or data recovery toolkits available online. (See my related article 10 Free Tools to Recover Deleted Files.) But the free data recovery tools may not work in every case. You may have to shell out some cash for an advanced commercial tool, such as DiskInternals data recovery software.

DiskInternals Research has developed Windows data recovery software for almost two decades. In fact, their home page tagline is "Awesome Since 2004." The company's products recover disks, files, and system data of all kinds from any type of storage medium. DiskInternals' proprietary technology goes beyond what most free data recovery utilities can do.

Most free data recovery tools operate only on the file system: the database of filenames and file locations stored on your hard drive. The file system is itself a file, and it is physically separate from the files that it catalogs. When a file is "deleted," only its record in the file system is marked "deleted," freeing Windows to use the space that is still occupied by the actual file. If something new is written to that space before you have a chance to "undelete" it, you won't be able to undelete the file.

DiskInternals UNerase - Data Recovery Software

Many data recovery tools assume that the user is technically proficient and can figure out what to recover based on cryptic system-level displays of a file's contents. The tools from DiskInternals use a wizard to swiftly guide the user through the complex process of analyzing recoverable files and partitions, shaving hours off the recovery process.

The DiskInternals Uneraser

DiskInternals Uneraser uses the file system, too. But it also uses DiskInternals Powersearch, a proprietary technology that actually scans every sector on your hard drive to discover what is written there. PowerSearch looks for document signatures to find Word, Excel, JPG, PDF, and a total of 113 different types of files. Thus, it can recover files, or partially overwritten files, even if their records no longer exist in the file system. In some cases, a partial recovery is better than nothing.

DiskInternals works on computers running Windows 7 through Windows 11, and also understands some Mac and Linux filesystems. It can recover files from traditional magnetic hard drives, SSD drives, USB flash drives, and SD memory cards. Recovered data can be exported to CD, a virtual disk as well as a standard storage hard drive.

DiskInternals Uneraser costs $39.95 (USD), but a trial version of the program can be downloaded from the company's website. The trial version of Uneraser does have some limitations you should know about. Using the trial version, you can select a disk or folder to scan for lost files. Uneraser will show you the lost or deleted files that are available for recovery, and you can even preview the contents of a file. The preview function does a good job of displaying the contents of Word, Excel, database, HTML, plain text files, and even JPEG images. But unless you purchase the software, you cannot actually recover any files. You can't even use copy/paste in the preview window. But they do guarantee that if you can preview a file, you will be able to recover it. So at least you know that if you really do need the files, you won't be wasting your money on the Unerase software.

Other data recovery products in the DiskInternals catalog include Partition Recovery for deleted, damaged, or reformatted drive partitions; CD-DVD Recovery for lost or corrupted files on CDs and DVDs; RAID Recovery for orrupted RAID arrays; Linux Recovery; and specialized tools for virtual disks, Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook files, SQL databases, and a few other applications. I have no affiliation or relationship with DiskInternals - I'm just a fan of their products.

What's your favorite data recovery tool? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Can You UN-erase a File or Folder?"

Posted by:

27 Jun 2022


Posted by:

27 Jun 2022

I've often recovered deleted files from the Windows Recycling Bin.

Posted by:

27 Jun 2022

Bob, you say: "If something new is written to that space before you have a chance to 'undelete' it, you won't be able to undelete the file" but don't talk about the implications of this statement.
I presume that, as soon as you realize you have lost something, you should stop using the disk and download the program on another machine, perhaps to a USB stick? It would be a shame if, in looking for a means to recover the file, you irreparably corrupted it.

Posted by:

27 Jun 2022

I have used both PhotoRec and TestDisk ( It runs from the command line so may be a tad intimidating for some. Works well in my experience.

Posted by:

27 Jun 2022

I trust the Macrium Reflect backup program. I've got it set to backup my entire system once a week, and incremental backups daily. AND the backups are saved to an external hard drive and can be recovered entirely in just a matter of minutes.

Posted by:

Brian B
27 Jun 2022

This is the sort of software that should be included in Windows OS..

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
27 Jun 2022

Just like Ted, I trust the Macrium Reflect backup program (I use the free version here). I have it configured to perform a full system image backup on the first day of the month and a differential image backup daily. I have it keep two full system images and thirty differential system images so I can recover any file, in the state it was in on any of the previous thirty days.

By implementing a good backup paradigm, I get much more than simple file recovery. If something bad should happen to my system, I can get everything back, so my system is in the state it was in at the start of the current day, in under an hour.

I have never been in a situation where I 'had' to recover my system using Macrium Reflect, but after installing it, generating my first full system image, and creating my Macrium Reflect recovery boot USB stick, I performed a full system recovery, just to make sure I understand how to use the software, and also to make sure it works as advertised. It does.

As a side note, I boot my Windows 11 system using my Microsoft account and biometrics (finger-print scanner) to log in. Since I use my Microsoft account to log into my computer, I can sync my files with OneDrive. If I ever have to re-format my hard drive and re-install Windows, after my system is back up and running, all my files are available from OneDrive.

I sync my desktop pc with OneDrive. I have two laptop pcs, and they are not configured to sync with OneDrive, but I can access any file on OneDrive from them because I also use my Microsoft account to log into them. Having my files synced to OneDrive has proven to be very convenient for me.


Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

First, there are archives of files that I want to keep, and I have several backups in different locations. Next, I have used Recuva to undelete files that I have accidentally deleted in the past. Also, there are certain files that are confidential, and after serving their purpose, I intentionally want to delete them. For that, I use Privazer, and then I use Recuva t0 confirm that the file has been securely deleted. Between properly backing up and doing secure deletion of files, I feel I can't go wrong.

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

I have had success with Recuva on two separate occasions. One was with a USB drive my boss used at work and the other a file I deleted on my home computer. In the case of my home computer it was several weeks before I had realized my mistake but Recuva was still able to find it and re-install it.

Posted by:

Mac Eld
28 Jun 2022

I've used WinHex to recover files. It will recover files by using header info to find it. One time I recovered several hundred jpg files searching only for the jpg identifier in the header of the file. Some were only partially recovered as the disk sectors in the chain had apparently been overwritten.

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

Try a little appreciated built-in Windows tool: System Recovery. But not the classic, restore points - it's "previous versions."
Right-click the folder where the deleted folder was in. Select 'Properties' and in the dialog, click the 'previous versions' tab. Also works on files to recovery older versions of a file that has been edited.

But have many have noted, "where's your backup files?" A line from my computer maintenance presentation: "If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse."

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

My SSD disk probably died. It is not reachable in Windows explorer, nor my computer sees it in boot menu.

Is it possible to get some of the files on the disk and how?

Posted by:

Kathleen A Dombrowski
28 Jun 2022

Hello, Is there any way to recover files after re-installing Windows 2 times, with a clean install both times? My Nephew lost a very important file he forgot about.

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