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Recovering Deleted Files from USB Flash Drive

Nov 16, 2010 3:32AM PST

By mistake I deleted a folder from my USB Flash drive and the folder contained a lot of Word and Excel files that I need.
I use Windows XP and Office 2003.
Would appreciate if someone can advise any way I can recover these deleted files.

Discussion is locked

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Just a thought.
Nov 16, 2010 5:34AM PST

Have you checked your Recycle Bin? I know this is a USB stick and I can't be sure, but if you are lucky any file delete, even from an external drive, might still be in the recycle Bin.

If not, there are a number of file recovery utilities available. I would try something like Recuva, which attempts to recover deleted files even from a USB stick.

Hope that helps.


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Try Pandora
Nov 16, 2010 11:46AM PST
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Good point.
Nov 16, 2010 6:11PM PST

I had forgotten about Pandora, comicfan. Certainly worth a try.


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Recovering Deleted Files from USB Flash Drive
Nov 18, 2010 1:15AM PST

Tried Pandora and it does partially work. However it only recovered files from half of the folders on my USB flash drive so could not get to the ones I wanted

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Nov 18, 2010 2:23AM PST

Did you choose a "Deep Surface Scan" ? I just tested Pandora on my USB 1 Gig and I agree, it didn't do so well which I'm surprised.
For hard drives, it's excellent and have had luck in the past with USB but obviously, there is something not sitting right with USB recovery and I will contact them on this. (Done and Contacted), the magic of forums ... Wink

That aside, maybe Recuva is your best option as MDFlax stated.

There is also ..

Win Utilities Undelete free...

Easus free data recovery...

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Recovering Deleted Files from USB Flash Driv
Nov 18, 2010 3:43AM PST

I did with both Browse and Deep Surface Scan

Thanks for help and it does seem strange it stops recovering files after a certain point and does not go through all the folders on the USB

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Nov 19, 2010 10:14AM PST
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I have that one too
Nov 19, 2010 12:02PM PST

but never had the option for document type files like excel or word and have tried with no luck, even the new one. Works great for some things and may be worth a try regardless though.

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Why you can't
Nov 19, 2010 1:20PM PST

I think there's some confusion about flash/thumb drives and hard drives. It makes a big difference.

Hard drives are physical magnetic particles that are placed in order by an electrically charged "head" that reads and writes. Under the MS-Dos system only the first character of the file is deleted, so the file space is made available (it's a little more complicated but that's the jist). Unless some newer file takes its place, the file can be recovered by a utility smart enough to look for a file name that has a bogus (and very standard) first character.

Thumbdrives, on the other hand, are not physical. They are electrical (nothing more than charged capacitors, just like RAM, but held charged with a tiny battery that trickle-charges whenever the drive is plugged in). When a file is deleted from a thumbdrive, the charge that holds it is removed and there is no trace left.

So a deleted file on a hard drive has a very good chance of being recovered because something of it existed physically. A deleted file on a thumbdrive simply never existed physically, so nothing is left when it's deleted.

BTW, it is possible to ruin a thumbdrive by unplugging it from the computer without first clicking the "Safely remove hardware and eject media" icon in the clock area and telling it to eject the drive -- which tells the battery to stop accepting power and start using it (the current used is so small that a thumbdrive might last years if treated right). If the battery isn't told to stop charging, it may think it's still plugged in (and use itself up in no time flat). I've thrown more than one thumbdrive away because I just grabbed it and pulled.

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No confusion at all
Nov 19, 2010 1:44PM PST

I think we understand full well what you stated. The problem is\was, Pandora wasn't even seeing files that were on the flash drive currently and yes, Pandora has in the past recovered media from a flash device quite nicely when not written over. Pandora was also not completing a full scan or in another instance, not at all. When I stated it has been great in the past with hard drives and USB, I was simply stating that it is usually very good, nothing more. I purposely deleted files from my USB and Pandora wouldn't even come close to finding them as to where Recuva did, but it USED to.

As far as PC inspector, it doesn't have the option, in my copy anyway to recover documents as excel or word. I have purposely tested it to see if it would recognize a deleted file described, it didn't, others did.

So while your information is well put, correct and thorough, the issue isn't about confusion of what will recover or not, it's about a type of recovery that isn't working correctly.

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USB memory devices
Nov 20, 2010 2:29AM PST

Please would someone explain the differences between the various memory devices that you plug into a USB port? I have seen them described as flash drive, memory sticks, USB drives, thumb drives, etc. There are probably more I dont know about. I see the difference between a magnetic and an electrical storage system. However, if you delete a file on an electrical system, and its little battery is powering the thing, does the file vanish or is it ( or part of it) still there?

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The difference is elementary, Watson...
Nov 20, 2010 9:46AM PST

The differences are huge, but small at the same time...

1) USB drive:
This can actually be said to be anything you can plug into your USB port that shows up as a drive. If someone says they have a USB drive, it's like saying they have a car, instead of saying it's a Ford or a Suzuki.

2) Flash drive:
[some people refer to these as Memory Sticks]
Typically, these drives are non-volatile memory, meaning they won't erase by removing them from a power source. These type of "drives" include (but are not limited to) SD/xD cards, MMC cards, etc. These can be stored away for years without losing the data on them. They are mostly used in cameras, etc., and write the memory "in a flash" without using any energy to actually keep the device going. These have a limited number of writes to them before the data becomes unreadable. (Don't worry... it's in the thousands of writes... you'd have to use your camera for years to write to it so many times as to start seeing the data corrupted. You'll probably get a new camera or larger flash card before that happens regardless.)

4) Compact Drives:
[Thumb drives]
These, unlike the flash drives, do use energy. Another person mentioned these can be damaged by removing them without disconnecting them properly. These are usually about the size... wait for it... of your thumb. These are good for carrying around more data than the flash drives, can take more writes than a flash drive, but will (eventually... years...) lose the data due to loss of power. It's not actually removing the drive from the computer that damages them in the way described above, but data corruption because the computer hadn't finished writing the directory information. It's always good to disconnect the drives correctly... but power outages, etc. can cause the same problem as removing the drive without "safely removing" the device first. Chances are you'll be fine... but there are lottery winners, people who get by lightning, etc. These do have a limited number of writes as the memory chips they use will wear out, but like the flash drives, you'll probably replace them long before that happens.

5) External hard drives:
This is the only actual DRIVE type... These are slowly being replaced by the flash drives and thumb drives as they grow larger, but will probably never fully be replaced. These are external enclosures or bays that allow you to hook an actual hard drive, be it IDE/PATA or SATA, to the computer and write to it. This is your best bet for long term use as a hard drive, and not just a courier for data, such as copying files from home to take to the office. They're bulky compared to the others, but more reliable long term, and more likely to allow you to recover data in the event of a problem, like the one that started this thread... the deletion of a folder.

I'm probably missing options, but these are the most common. Just remember to keep a backup of anything you put to these, even if it's to another of the same type of device. After all... you don't want to lose those important files because of a wayward delete. (You also want to be able to say "Oh - I needed that" two weeks after, and be able to get it back.)

Hopefully that clarifies the differences a bit.

-- Jeff

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forgot 3
Nov 20, 2010 9:50AM PST

Somehow I skipped 3 while writing that...
Unix people copying the text, use emacs and enter:

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EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard
Nov 19, 2010 2:06PM PST
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Nov 19, 2010 3:48PM PST

Actually it's free anyway. If you look at my link a few posts up, I have it listed. I think it's up to a Gig for the free version. I am sort of against GOTD for a couple of reasons. (not saying you should be) just my reasons...

Some time back, they were installing root-kit type entries for their free software which I discovered and confronted first the software creator who had no idea this was being put in there. He figured it was a way to keep people from reinstalling due to the license agreement. Fine. My argument was simply this, installing a root-kit for any reason is not a good one and the software is NOT free if you can't even reinstall your OS without giving up that software. Free is a lie in this regard. Restricted is the correct term.
I contacted GOTD only to get no response, completely ignored, then beaten near death with pom poms from the cheerleaders there. I discovered this due to my pc acting funny after installing from them, ran RKR, Sophos, and a few other scans and found the entries. I would remove them, issue gone. Many others noticed the same thing, their computers acting funny, they followed my advice, bingo, their issues were solved.

Now, I don't know how they are currently to be fair, they may have changed the way they do things. I am curious with X64 systems if they were still implementing this, if it would take or not, however, I have never gone back to them, nor will I likely ever. If others get a chance for decent free software, that's fine, for me, I will never trust them.

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this one has a lot of options to recover
Nov 21, 2010 10:04PM PST