Data recovery is the process of restoring files and data that were lost due to deletion, erasure, system crash, reformatting, or hardware damage.
In order to understand what happens when you scan with a high-quality data recovery program, it’s important to know how your hard drive stores and accesses data. If you are unfamiliar with this topic, you might want to review our article on how hard drives work. As we learned, hard drives store a file as a string of 1s and 0s. But what happens when you delete a file?
When a file is deleted, your ability to access it is gone. There is no icon, and no way to open it. However, the actual information is still recorded, magnetized in binary code on your hard disk. Think of it kind of like a page in a book. You remove the page listing from the table of contents, and you erase the page number, making it impossible to find. But the page is still there, with the same information.
You can also think of it like painting. If an artist paints a scene, he may decide that a tree should be removed. He doesn’t erase the tree, he simply paints over it. In the same way, your file information is not erased, but is prepared to be ‘repainted. ’ This is the case for hard drives, deleted SD memory files, deleted files from USB cards, and deleted iPod music.
So when deleting a file, the computer places the corresponding hard drive location in the ‘empty space’ category. The computer ignores this information completely, so there’s no way for you to access it. Next time you need to save something, this space may be used. Using our book example, the page is not erased, but it’s put in the scrap paper pile, to be re-used when necessary.
The same is also true for files and data lost through crashes, reformats, etc. This file is not accessible, but data lingers on the hard drive in its binary form.
Find your missing files and data today!But the important question is, how do you get that data back?
Data recovery software performs a scan of your hard drive itself, not of the files which are visible in Windows. Even though you can’t see the file, the data recovery software can. And it can recover your missing file or restore your deleted email.
With advanced scanning technologies, the software directs the read/write head of the hard drive to read all parts of the platters, even areas which are recorded as blank. As we learned, these areas are not really blank, but contain information which has been deleted and are considered free space.
In this way, the data recovery program reads information and files which the computer (and you) would otherwise think was gone.
The data recovery program can apply various detection methods to identify files, recognizing that a certain sort of information is a picture, one type is an email, another sort is a text document, and so on.
The detected data is then recovered. To do this, the data recovery program makes the computer recognize it as a file, re-interpret it and transform it back into a file we understand. After recovery, the file will have an icon, a file name, and can be accessed just as before. The data on the hard drive is no longer marked as empty, so there is no longer a risk of the files being overwritten.
Since all deleted files linger as ghost information on the hard drive, a data recovery scan can dredge up lots of old files, and it may take some time for a thorough scan. Performing a text scan can simplify the process, and help you locate your file that much faster.