Recovering Deleted Files

Okay, so first a bit of background:

Several papers that I had written in college were saved as PDF files on my old computer (I prefer to save my finished word documents that way after I no longer need to edit them). I thought that I had the PDF files in backup, so I deleted them from my hard drive (turns out that they weren't ugh...). Then, five months later (during which time I used the laptop pretty regularly, though without defragmenting, if that helps), I ended up getting a new computer and reformatting the hard drive on the old one. I gave the old hard drive to a friend, so he could convert it into an external drive (he refurbishes computers in his spare time and was happy to have the extra drive to use for his work). It has been two years since that time.

Now, I'd like to get the old papers back, since I need to submit some past work for a portfolio. I'm curious if this is even possible now, some two and half years later? Should I even bother to ask my friend for the hard drive back and go about getting file recovery software? Or are the files probably long gone by now (or at least likely too corrupted to open)?

I'd prefer if someone would just give it to me straight, as I'd rather not invest in false hope at this point. I mean, if something is potentially possible, great, but if my chances are pretty much zero by now, I can accept that.

Thanks in advance!

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Almost Surely Gone...

...After multiple formattings and especially if your friend has actually used the old hard drive to write data on, then even going to a professional recovery company is an extreme long shot. It's not the amount of time involved. It's the amount of over-writing/formatting that's taken place. It's up to you but I'd count the files as being unrecoverable.

As to backups, I've still got some old DVD's where I copied special pictures and documents to.. They're compact and store for quite a long time and you can keep that "special" stuff you might need sometime in the future.

Hope this helps.


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I suspect as much...

...But if it's helpful, I only formatted the hard drive once after I deleted the PDF files, just before I got rid of it? However, like I said, I'd been using the computer daily in the five months since deleting the files, and I'm know that my friend has been using it to store data in the last two years since he converted it into an external hard drive.

I'm aware (and correct me if I'm wrong) that once files are deleted, it's a race against time to recover them if you're using the hard drive regularly since they can be easily overwritten.

Would a professional data recovery service not even be helpful in this case? I'm guessing that even with one formatting and all the usage for writing files, my chances are pretty much zero when it comes to basic recovery software like Recuva?

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I wouldn't bother. It's not like the files were deleted

(recently) And since Windows automatically defrags now, the chances of recovery is so low it's not something I'd look at except to try RECUVA.

I'd look elsewhere for these files. For me I email such things so my email online (I use Gmail) would have them in the sent folder.
(i) Edited to note that recovery must be done sooner than later.

Post was last edited on October 15, 2015 12:20 PM PDT

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Professional Recovery Is Expensive..

...and they'll want their money whether, or not, you get your files back. And you probably won't get your files back. You could try the free recovery software simply because it's free, but I doubt you'll get much joy.

Hope this helps.


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Makes sense...

...and I appreciate your candor about it.

I was doing some further research on the subject today. I read that since data is stored in random clusters, even without formatting the disc, after a few weeks of regularly using a computer chances are low as it is that basic recovery software can helpful, since once 10 to 15 percent of a file is overwritten it will be too corrupted to view and require further investment in other software in order to open the file.

Is this about accurate?

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you'd have a better chance...

...getting them from some old archived backups at the university, or from some dormant account you had with them. Don't bother your friend.

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