A Crash Course in Computer Data Recovery

Computers definitely make life easier. When things go wrong, they can make life much harder. An all to common example is when a data file goes missing. This happens on all kinds of computers.


Searching a Windows computer for missing files requires knowledge of the file name. Pressing the Windows key and “F” at the same time will bring up a search window. Simply type in the name of the file in the field labeled “all or part of the file name” and press the search button. A list of all files containing that character string will appear in the right pane along with the file’s location.

Sometimes data cannot be recovered by simply running a search. If the recycle bin was emptied after a file was deleted, that data will not show up in any search. Emptying the recycle bin does not actually remove any files from the computer. It only removes the information about where the files are located. The files will remain where they are until the system decides to use that location to save something else. Once something else is saved in that location, the original file is gone forever.


When performing a file recovery Mac users will go through a process similar to Windows. If the file was simply misplaced, a search can be performed by pressing the Command key and “F” at the same time. Searching can be performed by looking for the file name, the file size, date modified and many other attributes. Multiple attributes can be selected at the same time in order to limit the number files the Mac data recovery search produces.

Unlike Windows, there is no need to empty the trash on a Mac. The Mac computer will use any space designated as trash to save new data. When attempting a trash file recovery Mac users need to remember that these files will be overwritten quickly so must start the recovery process as soon as possible. Because the files are not stored in a trash folder before the space is recycled, special software will be required to locate files that have been designated as trash.

Hard Drive

Regardless of the operating system used, there are times when recovering data is much more difficult. After formatting the hard drive, it sometime becomes necessary to retrieve data that was not properly backed up. Hard drive recovery can be expensive and time consuming.

Even with all the expense and time, there is no guarantee the Windows or Mac data recovery will be successful. The reformatting may not leave enough of the file to make computer data recovery possible. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing without actually spending the time and money to perform a hard drive recovery.

Missing data files are simply a fact of life. These situations will continue to occur and must be dealt with. In many cases computer data recovery processes will succeed. Unfortunately, there will be some instances when the data simply cannot be retrieved.