Section 16.1. Undeleting Deleted Files

16.1. Undeleting Deleted Files

When you delete a file, Windows XP doesn't toss it into the fire pit immediately. Instead, Windows places the deleted files on a long conveyor belt called the Recycle Bin. The larger your hard drive, the more time you have to retrieve your deleted files before they fall off the edge. Most deleted files stay alive for weekseven monthsafter you press the Del (Delete) key.

To retrieve a deleted file, double-click your Desktop's Recycle Bin icon, right-click the file you want, and then choose Restore. Windows XP immediately undeletes the file, placing it back where it was before you trashed it. If you deleted a file from your Desktop, for instance, the Recycle Bin puts it right back on your Desktop.

Tip: To immediately delete top secret files, bypassing the Recycle Bin, hold down Shift while deleting the file.

To retrieve files that have already been dumped out of the Recycle Bin, download a free undelete program like Brian Kato's Restoration ( or FreeUndelete ( Both programs probe your hard drive, list deleted files, and let you resuscitate the important ones. Several undelete programs specialize in retrieving deleted files from your digital camera's flash card, even if the card's damaged.

Undelete programs can't work miracles . Once you delete a file, Windows considers its space fair game to overwrite with newer files. The longer you wait, the less successful your chances of retrieval. But undelete programs are certainly worth a chance, considering the alternative.

Note: Running Disk Cleanup, Windows' built-in hard drive cleaner, automatically empties your Recycle Bin, dumping all your deleted files. If you'd prefer that Disk Cleanup not empty your Recycle Bin, turn off that option (Section 9.4) before running the program.
The Recovery Console

When Windows XP itself freezes upyour PC greets you with a plain blue screen, or strange noises, instead of the familiar log-on screenyou're left in an uncomfortable position. How can you fix Windows when Windows locks you out?

For techies, the answer lies in Windows XP's Recovery Console. This back door provides a last-gasp way to resuscitate Windows XP from inside the operating system itself. The Recovery Console does away with the Desktop, windows, and even menus . It displays only a command prompt, something familiar to DOS, Unix, or CP/M old-timers, but understandably forbidding to the vast majority of PC owners .

To start the Recovery Console, start your PC from your Windows XP CD. (You may need to set the BIOS (see Section 17.2) to boot from a CD, something that's possible even if Windows XP can't currently get on its feet.) When the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press the R key to see the Recovery Console, shown here. Then, press the number of the copy of Windows that needs repair. (Almost everybody presses "1," since most people run only one copy of Windows on their PC.)

Even if you study command-line textbooks , don't expect the Recovery Console to salvage files from your My Documents folder. For security reasons, the Recovery Console restricts access to Windows system files and folders. It won't let you copy any information to a floppy disk, USB drive, or CD, either. In short, save the Recovery Console for techies at the shop. If you're just looking for a last-resort way to salvage your data files, a Knoppix CD (Section 17.8) provides a better tool.

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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