How to Recover Deleted Files With Restoration

How to Recover Deleted Files With Restoration

It is possible to recover deleted files if you haven’t saved much to the same drive that contains the deleted files. When you delete a file in Windows, it isn’t actually deleted – the data is still stored on the hard drive.

Since the information stored in the files hasn’t been removed from the hard drive, it may still be possible to retrieve the data from those lost files. This post explains how to use a tool called Restoration to recover deleted files, not only from a hard drive but other storage media such as memory cards as well.

Deleted Files Aren’t Really Deleted

Hard Drive Search

One misconception is that once a file is deleted, it is gone forever. In the case of Windows, it may seem the file is gone, but in reality the data is still left on the hard drive.

When you delete a file, or directory, in Windows, the hard drive space that was used by the file is simply marked as available by changing a record in the file table. This change prevents the file from being displayed in Windows Explorer or “My Computer”. Since Windows doesn’t remove the contents of the file, it may be possible to recover a deleted file.

If you wish to recover a deleted file it is important that you don’t write any data to the drive that contains the file. The reason for this is because any new file can overwrite the data of the deleted file, since Windows has marked the hard drive space as free to use. So it is best to not use that drive if you plan to restore the file.

Restoration – A Simple Undelete Tool to Recover Deleted Files

There are many undelete tools available online – some are free while others require you to purchase them. In the steps I outline below I will use a small, free tool called Restoration, which was developed by Brian Kato.

I have used Restoration in the past to recover deleted files because it is small, so I can place the entire tool anywhere, it doesn’t require any installation, so I can run it from a flash drive, and it is simple to use (one window).

While it is a simple tool, and may not have all the bells and whistles of a much larger application, it can help you recover a file you have just deleted quickly.


Restoration only works on Microsoft Windows. I have tried it on XP, Vista, and Windows 7 without any issues.

Steps to Recover Deleted Files

To recover your deleted files with Restoration, use the following steps:

  1. Download Restoration and then unzip the contents.
  2. Note:

    To ensure you don’t overwrite any of the data from your delete files, unzip the contents of the zip file onto a separate drive.

  3. Run the “Restoration.exe” file to load the application. The Restoration application window should appear as below.
  4. Restoration - Main Window

    Restoration - Main Window
    (Click to enlarge)

  5. Select the drive that contains the deleted file from the “Drives” dropdown list at the top-right.
  6. Click the “Search Deleted Files” button to begin searching the drive for any files that have been deleted. A progress bar will be displayed on the screen.
  7. Restoration - Progress Window

    Restoration - Progress Window
    (Click to enlarge)

  8. Once the scan is complete, the list in the window will populate with files and directories that have been deleted. You can click the column headings to sort the results list.
  9. To undelete a file, select it in the list and then click the “Restore by Copying” button on the right.
  10. Restoration - Undelete File Selected

    Restoration - Undelete File Selected
    (Click to enlarge)

If the file contents still on the drive are intact, then you should be able to restore the file without any issues. If you have to recover deleted files for many files, I don’t think this tool allows you to select multiple files, at least not from what I have found. In a situation such as that, you may need another tool to restore large amounts of data.

While this tool is small and compact, it can help you recover deleted files.

14 Responses to “How to Recover Deleted Files With Restoration”

  1. hunter of deleted files says:

    if u can help me send me an email ok? thnx

  2. hunter of deleted files says:

    i use restoration but i want to select all item that it show….but there is no way for me to select all items…help me plssss

    • Paul Salmon says:

      I don’t think there is a way to select all items in the list, at least not that I know of. To restore many files you would probably need a more powerful undelete application.

  3. TuneUp says:

    You’re right in saying that deleted files are never actually deleted! Thanks for sharing info on this restoration tool—I wanted to let you know that there are a number of other ways PC users can recover lost data on their own. These options include rescuing files from a hard disk, USB drive or camera card or retrieving files from damaged CDs or DVDs. I recently wrote a blog post explaining how to do this and how you can repair damaged files. You can see more here:

  4. Kimi says:

    I love Restoration!

    I used it a way back, but since i am now careful before deleting some files, so i guess i won’t need my old deleted files.

    Maybe one day i will need restoration again, but it actually works.

    Thanks for the awesome tut, and screenshot Paul!

  5. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach says:

    Nice! Now if there only was a tool to remove the magnets my kids love storing on top of their computer….. 🙂

  6. Melinda says:

    Glad to know about that. I have deleted things by accident too late to take them out of the recycle bin.

  7. Jhong Medina says:

    Great tool Paul, but can you recover format drive with this? Great post man.

    Jhong Medina

  8. Sarah says:

    I am curious to know whether the files we delete will actually be removed from the hard drive.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      They won’t be removed, but they will be overwritten. As you write new files to the hard drive, those files may eventually use the space previously occupied by the deleted files.

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