How Does File Recovery Software Work?

File recovery software can get you out of some difficult situations, recovering files that you may have believed to be lost forever. But how does it work?

Data stored on a hard disk drive (HDD) is made up of a string of binary digits, or bits, which have a value of 0 or 1. These strings make up files such as photos, documents, music and video, depending on their order. In a photo, for example, the bits indicate the location, colour, brightness and other aspects of each pixel.

When data is deleted on a hard drive in Windows, the files are moved the Recycle Bin, and when it is emptied, the space they occupied is marked as free, waiting for new data to be written there. If you change your mind, you can simply restore files in the Recycle Bin to their original location. But what if you delete a file from the Recycle Bin, and then change your mind? This is where file recovery software comes in. As discussed above, when you “permanently” delete a file from the Recycle Bin, it isn’t actually gone forever. What is actually delete is something called the master file table reference, which is basically a map or pointer to where the file is stored. This data is still recoverable, as long as it isn’t overwritten, which the OS will categorise it as once it has been emptied from the Recycle Bin.

For the highest chance of success when using file recovery software, you need to act fast, and deploy it as soon as possible. The more you write data to your drive, the less chance you have of recovering your data. Additionally, we’d recommend installing file recovery software in advance, to avoid the chance of it overwriting the very data you’re trying to recover.

File Recovery