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Recovering Lost Files

It’s happened to the best of us.  You’re typing away on that important business presentation or you’ve finally finished that big paper for your class and suddenly, it’s gone.  It may have been your fault or it may have been your computer’s fault, but either way, you’re not a happy camper.  You may say some words that shouldn’t be written on this blog.  You may bang your head against your desk or your computer.  You may even curse yourself for not constantly hitting save like you’ve been taught to do throughout your entire computer-using life.   Whatever your reaction, don’t panic.  It’s quite possible you can recover that lost file.   Below you’ll find a few things to try before throwing your computer against the wall:

1.  First of all, if your computer crashes or restarts itself when you’re in the middle of typing a Microsoft Office document, chances are, the program saved it for you.  Before you do anything else, open the program up again and many times a recovered version of your file will be there, ready and waiting.  Problem solved.   If your program doesn’t do this,  go to Tools, then Options, and set the program so it auto-saves your documents and does it frequently.

2.  This one may seem simple but when my mother, who is not exactly a computer person, called me the other day and said, “I accidentally deleted my document,” I realized not everyone realizes that your deleted files aren’t necessarily gone forever.  If you accidentally delete a file, go to your desktop and locate your recycle bin.  Click on the icon and chances are you’ll find the deleted document there.  You can choose to “restore” the document and it will return to where it was before you deleted it.

3.  If your computer crashes while you’re working on a document, simply search for it when your computer is turned back on.  First, you’ll want to make sure you can view hidden files.  To do this go to Internet Explorer, click on Tools, and then Folder Options.   You’ll want to be on the “View” tab and then you’ll want to mark the “Show Hidden Files and Folders” option.   Then you can perform your search.  Go to Start, select Search, click on “All Files and Folders.”  If you named your file before you started working on it (a great practice to make into a habit), you can search for the file and because programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will auto-save your documents, it’s quite possible you’ll find it.   If you didn’t name your file, simply type in a * symbol, followed by the extension and it will bring up all of those types of files.  For example, if it was a Word document, you’ll type *.DOC into the search box.

4.  You may also want to check for a temporary file containing your document.   When doing your seach from step 3, type *.TMP into the search box and it will bring up all of the temporary files your computer has saved.  You can then narrow this list down into specific dates, allowing you to search only for documents created during the dates you worked on your file.

5.  If all else fails, try a data recovery service.  Many computer service companies such as ComputerServiceNow.com can help you retrieve lost data from  failed, damaged, corrupted, or inaccessible hard drives.

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