Files that get deleted in the Windows operating system are not deleted right away, as they are first moved to the operating system's recycle bin. You can configure the recycle bin to be bypassed automatically, or by holding down the Shift-key before you start the deletion. But files are even then not deleted right away. They basically remain on the hard drive, so that they can be theoretically be recovered.
The success of a data recovery operation depends on a number of factors, but especially the time between the deletion and recovery attempt. Once a file has been deleted on the system, its storage space on the hard drive can be used to store new data. This obviously would overwrite part or all of the deleted file on the hard drive, so that it may only be recovered partially or not at all.
FreeRecover is an Open Source data recovery application for the Windows operating system. You can start the program right away on your system after download. It displays the available drives in a selection menu on top. You may want to check the Get file Paths and Check File Integrity check boxes before you hit the search button so that these information are added to the results window right away.
Get File Paths displays the file's original path on the drive if the information can be recovered, and Check File Integrity returns if the original file is recoverable or not. The scan takes a while, especially on larger hard drives. You can see the information getting filled out during the scan, but the screen remains unresponsive until it completes.
FreeRecover lacks sorting options which makes it less intuitive to use as Recuva or many other file recovery programs. The only sorting option it offers is the file search form at the bottom of the screen. Here you can filter for words, extensions or phrases. A click on a file displays a preview of it in the program window. This can be an image, textual contents or gibberish depending on the file extension.
The first version of FreeRecover shows promise, especially since it is still a beta version. It needs some fine tuning, especially in the sorting and filtering department. Please note that the program requires a version of the Microsoft .NET Framework to be installed on the system.
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