How to Find Deleted Items on a Computer

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Deleted files on a computer may seem like a lost cause, but there are methods and other programs you can use to recover those lost files. Recovering lost files only takes a few minutes if the files haven't been overwritten and can save you lots of stress.

Recovering Deleted Files in Windows Operating Systems

  1. Open the "Recycle Bin." Try to locate the deleted file you wish to recover. Right click the item you wish to restore and click "Restore." If you've permanently deleted all of the files in the "Recycle Bin," move on to step two.

  2. Download a file recovery program like Recuva or Disk Digger. These programs will search your computer for recently deleted files and will allow you to recover them (if they are in good condition).

  3. Check your cookies if you're searching for deleted Internet history. In Internet Explorer, click "Tools" and select "Internet Options." Click on the "General" tab. Under "Browsing History" click "Settings." Select "View Files" from the "Settings" dialog box to view "Temporary Internet Files" and cookies. Check cookies in Firefox by clicking "Tools" and selecting "Options." Under the "Privacy" tab, select "Remove Individual Cookies." This will allow you to browse through the cookies that have been stored on your computer.

  4. Complete a system restore. Click "Start" on your taskbar (or the Windows icon) and select "All Programs." Expand the "Accessories" menu by clicking on it. Click on "System Tools" and select "System Restore." Choose a date you'd like to restore the computer to and click "OK."

  5. Right click your "My Documents" folder and click "Properties." Select the "Previous Versions" tab and double click the version of the folder that has the file you wish to recover. Click the file you want to restore and click "Restore."

Recovering Deleted Files in Mac Operating Systems

  1. Open your "Trash Bin." Locate the deleted file you wish to recover. Drag the item onto the main screen to restore it. If you have deleted all files in the "Trash Bin," move on to step two.

  2. Use Time Machine. Open the Time Machine application and locate a point when your file was on your computer (before deleting). Click "Restore." The file will be stored to its original location.

  3. Use "Backup" if you've backed your files up before deleting them. In the "Backup" window, select the files you want to restore and select "Restore." System backup will restore all the files that have been backed up or you can simply restore the files you choose manually.

  4. Check cookies if you're looking for deleted Internet history. View cookies in Safari by opening the browser and selecting "Preferences" from the menu. Click on the "Security" tab. Click on "Show Cookies." Browse the list of cookies saved on your computer.

  5. Download File Salvage. File Salvage will allow Mac users to backup their computers and restore deleted files. The application will allow you to "travel back in time" to see files that have been deleted.

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