Losing important files is never pleasant, but you may have heard that it is possible to recover them. That is certainly true, as even though the file itself may be ‘lost’ that does not necessarily mean that it is completely gone, and through various means you may be able to restore it.

It is important to note however, that the key point to remember is that you ‘may’ be able to restore it. What that means is that there is a chance that the file can be restored, but there is also a chance that it will not be able to. Whether or not the file can be restored will depend solely on if its data still resides on your hard drive.

Normally the data from files that are deleted are still present on your hard drive until the sector in which the data was stored is overwritten with new data. Keep in mind however that any computer that is running is constantly writing to the hard drive, and so the longer it has been since the file was deleted, the greater the chances that its data has been overwritten.

On the other hand if the file was lost for some other reason, the odds of being able to recover it depend on the cause. If the hard drive is physically damaged then the area where the data was stored could be damaged too, which will mean that it can’t be recovered. Once again if a damaged hard drives continues to run the risk of further damage increases as do the odds of the data being lost permanently.

Based on all that you should be starting to notice a common trend: The odds of being able to recover files decrease the more the hard drive is used. That is why if you have lost an important file experts advise that you immediately turn off your computer – sometimes without even shutting it down safely as that could overwrite some sectors of your drive.

Additionally it is important that you use ‘safe’ methods of file recovery that don’t run the risk of overwriting data on your hard drive or damaging in further. That may include removing the hard drive and plugging it into a different computer so that it doesn’t boot from it.

Assuming the data is really critical and you want to stand the best odds of recovering your files, you may want to turn to experts right from the get go. That will provide you with the best possible odds, and although it can cost quite a bit it may be worth it if your files are really that important.

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