Recovering Deleted Data on a Hard Drive

We recently started working with a data recovery company to augment the data recovery services that we already offer.  They sent us an email with come great tips that we wanted to share with our reader and clients.  Here they are:

  1. When you delete files from a hard drive, the information is not actually deleted, it is just removed from the file directory.  The space on the hard drive is marked as “available”, but the data lives on until it is actually overwritten with new data.  Deleted data can often be recovered in the Windows Recycle Bin, unless you have emptied the Recycle Bin.
  2. If that is no longer an option, immediately shut down the computer or hard drive with the deleted files.  Running data recovery software or any other program from the target drive can cause the information you are looking for to become overwritten and irretrievably lost.
  3. Do not install any software programs to the target hard drive.  There is a significant chance that the new program will overwrite the area that contains the deleted file you want to recover.
  4. Remove your hard drive from the computer it is installed on, and be prepared to set it up as an additional or external drive on a second PC.  Install the recovery software to the second computer, and use it to try to recover files from the target drive.
  5. If you cannot find recoverable data, you may need to contact a professional service.

You do not want to do anything that would run the risk of overwriting the hard drive sectors that used to contain your data.  Once data is overwritten, it is very difficult and expensive to recover. 


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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