How to recover missing, lost, or deleted files from Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and 2008 and Windows 7 as well as Apple Macs
Before reviewing the below recommendations and suggestions, verify that the files have actually been deleted; in some cases the files may have simply been moved. You can search the hard disk drive for the files you believe to be missing by running find or search on the computer.
Recover file from backup
If the file has been backed up to floppy disk or other medium it is recommended that the file be restored from that backup if the file cannot be found.
Restore from Recycling Bin or Trash
If you are running Apple MacOS, Microsoft Windows 95, NT, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, or later operating system and the file has been recently deleted it is possible that the file may still be in the Trash or Recycle Bin. If present within this area it can be recovered.
Download freeware program and/or purchase a program
Below is a list of freeware file recovery programs that can be used freely to recover lost data.
PC Inspector File Recover
In addition to the above freeware programs there are also several companies who have created programs designed to recover your lost data. For example, PowerQuest makes the utility Drive Image that in some cases can be used to recover data from a hard drive.
Utilize a service from a company that specializes in recovering lost data
Utilize the service of a local data recovery company or an out of state data recovery company. One word of caution is that these services can sometimes be very expensive. It is only recommended they be used if the data is extremely important. Below is a listing of a few major data recovery companies.
Action Front Data Recovery
CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc.
DriveSavers Data Recovery
Lazarus Data Recovery
Virtual Data Recovery
Stellar Data Recovery
DataCent Professional Data Recovery
There are also several companies that specialize in the service of recovering files or documents that are password protected. Below is a listing of some of the companies that provide this service.