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How many times have you accidentally deleted a file?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / August 30, 2006 5:49 AM PDT

How many times have you accidentally deleted a file and found that you couldn't recover it?

Never - I'm always careful
once (tell us what happened)
2 - 4 (tell us what happened)
5 - 10 (tell us what happened)
11 - 20 (tell us what happened)
over 20 (really?!)

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Many, many times!
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 31, 2006 2:48 AM PDT

Painful memories.

I cannot remember how many times I have deleted files and even whole folders/directories, then thinking ''Ooops!'', then swearing the roof off my house/office/wherever it happened.

It is well over 20 files, in fact it ranges into hundreds.

The best way to delete a file is in DOS. I won't share how to people who don't use DOS, (it's not available in Windows XP but is in others), to avoid having irate members come back here swearing to rip my head off when they tried it themsleves and found there is no Recycle Bin in DOS and no return.

The best way in Windows is the keyboard + Mouse click that bypasses the Recycle Bin. Again, I won't explain the method for those who don't know for fear of my life, but bypassing the Recycle Bin means just that. Pufff! Gone!

Fortunately I have never deleted system critical files, but I have deleted weeks work of stuff before now.


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by Merranvo / September 2, 2006 6:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Many, many times!

(it's not available in Windows XP but is in others)

Dos is everywhere, it is not 'activly involved' in xp but it is there. And this time around you have 2 versions of dos, your good friend dos, and XP dos (cmd).

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I've only deleted something on accident once...
by aka_tripleB / August 31, 2006 7:41 PM PDT

But it was the only entire partition on my external hard drive. Nothing important was lost, it was mostly used as a backup for my music files, so I still had everything because it was just backup. But it did piss me off that I had to put it all back on there.

The story behind this is, I was reloading Windows onto my computer and the drive was still attached to my PC so it showed up on the boot screen. I though for some reason my HDD was partitioned into 2 drives, and it only being an 80 GB drive, I didn't want it to be. So I delete the partitions only to find out that they were 2 separate physical drives. Then I realized what I had done. I yelled, nothing terrible, because it was only a minor inconvence putting everything back on the drive. And the fact that I had the original copies of everything still, I just reloaded from them rather than to try to restore anything. Don't get me wrong, I did try one thing, but it wasn't like I took the time to really make sure I couldn't restore the data.

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Accidentally deleted files
by rene kort / August 31, 2006 7:57 PM PDT

I had once formatted my C-disk from a Dos-window without realising that another partition with importand data was on the same drive. Besides I thouht I had a backup of this data, which of course I didn't check.

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Thats why hard drive recovery was invented
by OliMouse / August 31, 2006 8:02 PM PDT

I used a hard drive recovery program to get back photos that had been deleted and the hard drive had been fully reformated. This did not stop the program (as it was not a cheapie) and i got every photo back. Iy couldnt be more simple as they do a deep scan for 5+ hours depending on size and then you select what files you want brought back from the dead.

programs that may be usefull:
-nortan ghost 10.
-get back data.
-recover my files.

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by SFAQL / August 31, 2006 8:39 PM PDT

I am learning to use the computer and have lost files on a number of occasions in the last three weeks.The techy I use said he would install a programme to prevent a windows re-installation for the fourth time in three weeks.He installed acronis true image and set up a partition on the hard drive.He says now,what ever mistakes I make can be fixed up in under 15 minutes.It will reload windows,all programmes and settings exactly how it was before I destroyed the files.Is there somebody who can say whether this was the correct action to take in this case? Any advice would be appreciated.

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am learning to use the computer and have
by sasquatchll / September 1, 2006 5:46 AM PDT

I use Acronis True Image myself. It is reliable and un-noticable running at a very low priority in the background.

It is still better to keep on learning so you will be more adept at trying out for geekdom. Still, very few of us do not on occasion suffer a brain f**t and delete an important file. Shoot, I killed a whole partition once. I formatted the wrong drive for an XP re-install once. I have 20+ years of experience but that shows me to never underestimate myself.

By the way. I used Active Undelete and recovered the whole partition. Even though I had used fdisk to format it.

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Deleting Files
by Levis Ouellet / August 31, 2006 8:18 PM PDT

I learned many years ago to be super careful when deleting files. I once deleted and lost for good a beautiful picture of my wife and our young grand daughter...a once in a lifetime digital picture. I deleted by mistake before burning it to a cd and only noticed this many weeks later.
Rest assure that this has not happened again. I now have two drives. I move the files to my spare hard drive while I work with the copies on my C Drive. Once done with my editing...etc....I burn the files onto a cd/dvd. I leave the files on the spare drive for a while and make sure the cd burn has performed correctly and that I am able to retrieve the files easily.

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Outlook express file were deleted
by bfrieday / August 31, 2006 9:23 PM PDT

I went in to change the adminstrator in windows xp and then found that all my e-mails in Outlook Express had been deleted. I don't know where they went and have never recovered them. I could use help on that.

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You can recover what was lost!
by corbos / August 31, 2006 10:22 PM PDT

I used Norton System Works to recover my deleted files and they were just fine. It is somewhat complicated to use so read everything, but it does get the job done. Thank You Norton!

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After accidentally deleting important files
by dwango / August 31, 2006 10:55 PM PDT

I've used software called "Undelete". It takes a long time to run, but it's worked every time.

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never lost a file
by brescia / August 31, 2006 11:36 PM PDT

I have never had this problem because I with so much memory I hardly ever delete files. When I do I save a copy on a portable hard drive.

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But not in 20 years
by geordie / August 31, 2006 11:39 PM PDT

In university we ran MTS on an IBM 370/168 and you could add the confirmation onto the line, so you would say "del filename y" and it wouldn't say "are you sure", I was abit quick on the draw one day.

But my serious error was on a Sun3/80, I was logged in as root and had been messing about with new accounts. I wanted to abandon my attempts and I thought I was in a subdirectory like /home/fred and wanted to delete all my attempts so I typed something like "cd ..;rm -rf *". Then the machine started behaving strangely. I had been in "/home" and I'd just told it to delete everything on my one and only disk. Fortunately I backed up every night, so I only lost half a day of work.

These days I keep everything important under source code control and on a server that is backed up twice a day to off-site storage. At home I duplicate all important files onto three disks, one external and two on separate machines. I also seldom delete anything, it takes a long while to fill a 300Gb drive.

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With Unix/Linux, your files are "more gone"
by doon41 / August 31, 2006 11:43 PM PDT

A few times, over maybe 15 years, I inadvertently deleted files. At worst, maybe a couple pages of typing.

The important thing to note is this: If you are working with files located on a server, and you do not have a local copy, you are more likely to lose the data irretrievably. This is of course due to the way server systems "recycle" storage space, plus the fact that an ordinary user normally will not have the admin powers to attempt file retrieval on a server used by others. Another argument for "local control", and why you should be sure that your application keeps a local copy as backup of your work.

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Re: With Unix/Linux, your files are "more gone"
by jhawklyn / September 1, 2006 12:39 AM PDT

In theory the advantages of 'local control' outweigh the disadvanteges. In practice tho' in a well run shop, you're more likely to recover the deleted file from a server, than a personal PC. Why? Because (IMO) folks running servers tend to be far better at maintaining backups than folks on Personal PC's.

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Boy, Was I stupid!
by ctubbs / August 31, 2006 11:47 PM PDT

Back in the days of good ol' DOS 3.1, I started to format a pile of floppys first thing in the morning. I started the machine. inserted the first floppy and typed in ''Format'' and hit ''Enter''. The message about all data being destroyed on the disk came up and I was asked to continue, Yes or No. I chose yes to start the format. It then asked if I was reall sure and I hit Y again. Then the mesage ''Formating drive C:'' was displayed on my screen!

No! No! Not drive C:! Then there I was doing the "Control C" thing to stop the operation. I dug out Nortons and started to recover the deleted files and replace the destroyed files one by one. Seven hours later, I had the machine restored and running as new. The first files destroyed were the operating system files. This would not have been so bad except I was the supervisor of a group at my plant that were in charge of all the process computers.

Yes, I was the guru on computers! Do not get complacent! Read all the messages that come on screen. That was many years back and I learned my lesson. Since then I have not been so careless with my files.

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One huge loss...
by vashonehudgins / September 1, 2006 12:44 AM PDT

I am a full time student in an online community. I accidentilly erased all of my class folders which contained ALL of my records, papers, files and the like which were school related. I was just trying to move them and I erased them by accident. I would call this one accident, but with several classes in the main folder, it was hardly an accident. I now back-up each class on a CD once completed and I also save to multiple locations. I also ensure that the recycle bin asks for permission to delete before doing so. Won't ;et that happen again...

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Deleted windows files
by sifytripz9 / September 1, 2006 12:58 AM PDT

Here`s one! I was running my Norton one button checkup. I looked up and there in program integrity there was 10 problems. I take a look at the details and it turns out to be Windows files. I about have a heart attack and try to recover them under lost files recovery. Too no avail they`re not there. They are just gone. What happen to them from the last time I did a check-up I dont know. I`m not the only one who use`s this PC. So far I haven`t had any big problems, but I tried to recover them from my disc but it dosent give me that option. I tried to go to microsoft and look around to see if there was so way to repair it,but I cant find anything. I rebooted from the last known configuration that worked, but the files are still missing. If anyone has any ideas it would be helpful,but this happen 6 to 8 months ago. I have a Dell Dim 3000, Windows Home, D processor, 2 gigs RAM. Norton security.

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accidently deleting files
by dubbycop / September 1, 2006 1:19 AM PDT

My problem is not so much accidentally deleting - Windows always asks if I am sure - My problem is if I am sure today will I still be this sure about deleting next week or next month. As sure as God made little green apples, something will come up after I have deleted and I discover that the file I deleted last week is not as useless as I thought it was. I do not do a lot of music or games on my computer so I always have lots of room on the hard drive. I just leave the deleted files in the recycle bin for a few weeks in case circumstances change then I can just drag it out. Then after a reasonable amount of time I clean out the recycle bin or I will clean it out an item at a time. Murphy's Law still applies though and I have, after a month deleted only to be sorry later.
I downloaded the little restore program recommended by the winning entrant and just for curiosity's sake searched for .exe files, came up with several rather old ones (that is deleted quite a while ago) and restored them. So I am going to guess that "immediate" is important especially to heavily used computers or almost full hard drives but I would still search with this program after a month or more just in case. Thanks CNET for running this question, thanks for the great answers and thanks for the great little freeware program.

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Actually None
by 1953m / September 1, 2006 2:00 AM PDT

Anyone who relies exclusively on digital data storage for ANY important documents, info, etc., has to have his brain refitted. Digital data storage is the most unreliable method of storing important data of any media currently in existence.

Digital storage is so reliant on the jumble-jungle of hardware and software and connectivity features that it cannot offer reliability, permanence, or retainability.

I did lose some data when I used to use Gmail (Google) which runs the most capriciously destructive mail service of any on the net. Google just destroys emails with whimsical abandon.


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Sounds like you lost something pretty important.
by Nicon23 / September 1, 2006 4:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Actually None

Except for maybe Wills, Marriage lisences, etc digital storage is pretty reliable. I've had files on disks for 15 years without a problem. Although I would recomend doing a dual copy of important stuff and storing it in non-magnetic storage i.e. CD or DVD.

Not sure what Gmail has to do with digital data storage but if you were storing important stuff in emails that's a pretty bad idea all around. In fact never use any kind of online storage for anything important.

Large media file (movies, music) backup is another issue entirely since there absolutely is no cheap reliable large format backup solution. It just doesn't exist.

Example, I have roughly 500GB of various media. Except for storing a copy on another 500GB hard drive and keep ing it in ESD storage where do you backup 500GB of data? Perhaps when holographic storage becomes available...

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You asked 2 different questions!!
by Nicon23 / September 1, 2006 3:30 AM PDT

How many times have you accidentally deleted a file?
How many times have you accidentally deleted a file and found that you couldn't recover it?

Very different questions. I've probably accidently deleted files hundreds of times but 99% of the time I just go to EDIT/Undo Delete in explorer. Roughly 1% of the time I've had to open the Recycle Bin and drag it out.

I had a friend call me in a panic because she formatted the wrong drive during a fresh OS install. She hadn't started the actual install yet so we were able to get it all back plus some stuff she had intentionally deleted before the format with a program called RecoverLostData.

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replacing files
by euro_architect / September 1, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Thanks Lee for opening an other valuable discussion round.
I would like to add a topic/question related to the "Deleting Files" issue.
It has happened on occasions that I have been overriding a file by an other file with the same name -not by saving the same file on top of each other but merely replacing it.
If you replace a file by drag-n-dropping it, the original file will not be stored in your recycle bin and even by undoing your step immediately the file will not re-appear in your original folder.
Any advice on what can be done?

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I've deleted lots of files by mistake
by wresnick / September 1, 2006 4:18 AM PDT

Although I've deleted more than my share of files by mistake, I was able to recover most of them. It was not from a utility that scans the hard drive, but from a backup program that I was able to recover in the past.

Back in the days when mainframes ruled the earth, it was understood that your data got backed up daily, and you did not have to do anything to make it happen. As companies made the switch to PCs, they forgot about the value of the infrastructure that used to be in place.

Needless to say, it's been years since I've had the security of knowing that I could go to yesterday's backup and get almost everything back.

In some ways, I am protected. For email, I use IMAP. So my email is not only safe on the server, it's also available and in sync on any PC I use, with any IMAP client, such as Outlook. For most files, I'm protected by RAID. It's not the RAID 5 that I had back in the mainframe days, and I get nowhere near the throughput that I did back then, but at least I am somewhat safe from crashes. I also have my own backup utility that copies things to a different hard drive, so even if I erase something, I can get it back.

The problem is that an electrical glitch could cause all my hard drives to fry at once. I once had a similar problem. I should have removed my working hard drive immediately until I knew what the problem was. Unfortunately, I did not. The disk manufacturer offered to replace my drive for free, but would do nothing to recover it. Since I'm in Silicon Valley, I had enough connections that I was able to find somebody at the HD company who could swap the circuits on my HD, and I was able to get my data back.

So I'm still vulnerable to accidental deletions, theft, hardware problems, natural disasters, etc. But things could be worse.

I used to have a problem when I edited a file, planned to save it under a new name, but accidentally overwrote the old file when I saved it. My solution was to change my editor so that when it saved, it kept 9 generations of backups, and dynamically renumbered them. But that was also in the mainframe days. I don't know if Windows programs have the right hooks to add user exits into their menu choices, but based on the lack of freely available public add ons, I'd assume it's not trivial.

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File deletion
by higkay / September 1, 2006 4:26 AM PDT

I lost mine by clearing out my system of old unneeded files, & somehow managed to delete some that were of great importance to me.
If I'd have known that you could find them again I would have definitely tried to get them back.

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Painful lesson learnt!!!! Deleted whole DRIVES worth
by LOLcomputeruser / September 1, 2006 4:47 AM PDT

Hi there people!
Back in the days I was running Win98 (not SE!!!) and had been for 4 years, I was building a pc for my dear old mum....(who is now as addicted in her 60s as am I!) and thought a GOOD way to reformat the 2nd hand drive I was using, would be to set it up as a slave on my own pc! So I did.

Downloaded a program from the net for reformatting (as the drive had been partitioned in NT in its original computer) and I couldn't access the partitions with windows 98 partitioner and my DOS is NOWHERE near that good (if that's even possible?!), SO, I ran the program and rebooted to find my entire hard drive (C!!! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh) GONE. EMPTY, system files (and everything else) not there.....(everybody's dead Dave....Red Dwarf....when it was still funny........sorry, I digress!)

UNKNOWINGLY, the program I'd downloaded would only reformat a MASTER drive without a registration key and I was using freeware, which was fully 'operational', except for this 1, small, yet CRUCIAL (in the OLDE worlde sense of the word) fact.

I lost 4 years worth of emails, stories, photos, movies taken from the webcam, kids drawings and worst of all (being a musician and being married to another!) 4 years of music...........BIG BIG BIG BIG ouch......

....and yes, I DID cry.....for a whole day..........

EVEN WORSE..........(honest guv!!) on if you can bear it......

before I had discovered that I could recover MOST if not ALL of this with some very 'super dooper' software, delivered to me just DAYS later, by a friend of somebody, somewhere, back in the early 90s 'high up' enough to have software able to recover ANYTHING from wiped drives (for legal reasons etc.!) I had already reformatted and reinstalled Windows TWICE!!!!

I'd had many probs with drivers the first time, so (the worst bit!)....I did it AGAIN, I reformatted and reinstalled windows AGAIN! When I came to run the software, the next day, as it arrived, I discovered to both my joy and THEN my horror, that it could, INDEED, find and restore things from the previous installation of windows, ALMOST no matter what.....but nothing from the version of Windows that I'd been running for 4 years, prior to that, which had my 'life' on it....ouch ouch ouch

So, HAVE I learnt my, I have 180gigs of unbacked up photos and music......

Call me what you like......but short of burning it to disc, which I now am so paranoid is pointless as the rumours that it will degrade and be lost to me anyway eventually are rife.......what else can I do?!!! (rhetorical Q....I could buy 'back up hardware'.......which I guess is a whole new thread!!)

Thanks for reading......!


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How many times ...
by jlbrown1978 / September 1, 2006 8:30 AM PDT

Hi; I did once, But The person I got My computer from threw away the shut off file for My computer.
I think I found it but not sure What a Bootex file is.
So don't want to chance getting something back that isnt relevant
Thank You, Jester2050

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''The Great Hard Drive Crash of 2005''
by edex03 / September 1, 2006 8:56 AM PDT

My system has 2 hard drives, one for the OS and subsequent software, and one for data. I keep all my CDs and CD-ROMs backed up on this drive, as they tend to get scratched, lost, abducted by aliens, you get the point. I also keep all my digital artwork and files on this drive.

Ah, that fateful day. I was attemting to install Linux for the first time, with a friend on the phone walking me through the process. Upon completion of said installation, I found that there was no suitable driver for my video card for Linux. No big, just go back to XP.

After getting XP back up and running, I went to start installing proper drivers (also stored on the data drive) and to my horror, my own personal hell unfolded before my eyes as I opened the drive and there was NOTHING THERE!!!

I did not know that Linux automatically treated 2 hard drives as one, and my ''freind'' failed to mention that. Not only were some of the CDs I had ripped on that drive no longer in existance, but there was irreplaceable documents, images, pictures, etc. that I was convinced that I would never see again.

I started doing research into data recovery programs and found one on CNET called ''Recover My Files'' from a company called Get Data. I got the demo, and it found about 70% of what I was missing. I had to buy the program before it would actually recover it, but for the $70 some odd dollars I paid, it was worth it. Anything I couldnt just go out and buy again was recovered. Now I keep better backups!

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Only once...
by SujaGeorge / September 1, 2006 9:24 AM PDT

Back in the DOS days, I deleted a file that was mixed in with a bunch of junk... I had to edit the FAT and then track the sectors to recover the whole file. Pain in the ... Happy

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file accidently deleted
by har2727 / September 1, 2006 10:42 AM PDT

once i deleted my windows internet explorer by mistake because i had in my recycle bin because i couldn't access secure web sites on it. i meant to delete some songs from my media player and forgot the internet explorer was in there too. it was internet explorer 10 on windowsxp.

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