Software Sunday EP6: Recuva Resurrects Deleted Files

recuva logo


OH NO! You just accidentally deleted those precious baby pictures on your wife’s flash drive to make room for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Of course she does not keep any backups, that would make things too easy, you just completely destroyed months worth of precious memories. Might as well pack your bags up and leave now because there is no way she is going to get over this one. ( of course the gender roles of this situation could also be flipped 😉 )

Relax, those pictures are not lost forever and your marriage is not over. The files may be invisible to your operating system but using a data recovery tool like Recuva you can quickly and easily get them back.

Recuva is a free data recovery tool advertised to recover deleted documents, audio files, videos, pictures and more. It can be used with a wide variety of devices including but not limited to hard drives, flash drives, SD cards, and SSDs. It is easy to get a hold of, install, and use. During my testing it did a great job of recovering large video files and images but documents (word files, PDF’s, .txt) and audio files came back all jumbled up making them useless. It is possible that the failure to recover these file types could just be isolated to the systems I conducted testing on, so if anyone has had a different experience please do tell in the comments. So if you are looking to recover documents or audio you might want to look elsewhere. Recuva is compatible with Windows 10/8/7/Vista/and XP, it may be possible to get Recuva working with Linux or MacOS using WINE.

First we need to get our hands on the installer, you can download it from the Piriform website. They have a portable version and one that installs to your HDD, during this article I will be referring to the non-portable version. Download the installer and run the executable, the wizard will walk you through the installation process. At some point it will ask if you want to install their “CC cleaner” software, this is optional, you do not need it to run Recuva.

After the installation process you should see the Recuva icon on your desktop (unless you unchecked this option during setup). Before running the software make sure the storage device that you wish to recover data from is plugged into and detected by your system. From this point you can run Recuva. Double click on the icon and you will be greeted by several dialogue boxes which walk you through the recovery process.

The recovery wizard
The recovery wizard

The first prompt will ask you what type of file you wish to recover. You can just leave it set to “All Files” but if you select a specific file type it will make things a lot easier later on by only displaying the file type you want to find. Next you need to select the device that your file was on before it was deleted (flash drive, SD card, ect..). The last prompt will ask you if you want to enable deep scan, selecting this option increases scan time but it also does a better job of finding files, I usually enable it. Click “Start”, Recuva will start scanning your drive for recoverable files.

List of recovered files
List of recovered files

When the scan has finished you should be looking at a list of files with odd looking names. You will also see a green, yellow, or red indicator next to each file name. If the indicator is green or yellow then there is a pretty good chance that you will get most of your data back if you chose to recover that file, if it is red then cross your fingers and pray because it is possible that the recovery might fail. Since Recuva does not display the actual names of your files you will need to do some digging. The best way to determine which file is the right one is by looking at the “date last modified” column, also the “size” column should also help you discern the files you want. Once you think you have found the right file(s) check the box next to it and click “recover” (you can check multiple boxes to recover multiple files at once). It will ask you where you want to store the recovered file, just pick a location you will remember. If you are lucky your fully recovered file should now be sitting at that location!

For the most part Recuva does a pretty good job recovering files. There are some times though where the software can be hit and miss. Results vary across devices and file types. If you are in desperate need of some free data recovery you should definitely give it a try, you have nothing to lose after all.


3 Comments on “Software Sunday EP6: Recuva Resurrects Deleted Files”

  1. This is an awesome article, especially the video you made — killer stuff! I have personally used Recuva many times, it worked. Well, the only drawback of Recuva is that the application tends to find many junk files (tested it on my PC), some of which show as unrecoverable, making it a bit hard to find the files you actually want.

    By the way, besides Recuva, I’ve reviewed other 19 data recovery tools (all free) in my blog:

    Welcome to check it out. Also, Recuva works for Windows only. I’ve listed some free Mac data recovery apps like ExifUntrasher, PhotoRec, etc. in my blog article.

    Regarding the “trick” you mentioned that during installation, Recuva will ask if you want to install CCleaner — it’s a great clean up program overall, I tried it on my HP Pavilion and still use it today.

Leave a Reply