Research On File Recovery: The Science Behind Retrieving Your Lost Files

Research On File Recovery The Science Behind Retrieving Your Lost Files


File recovery is the process of retrieving lost or deleted files from a storage device, such as a hard drive, solid-state drive, memory card, or USB drive. Files that can be recovered include Audio/Video files, Images, Documents, Archives, Text files, and App installers among other file types.

We need to understand what a file structure is and how files are organized within a file system. Another important point to consider is what happens when a file gets deleted. There are several techniques used for file recovery, including file scanning, file carving, disk imaging, and log file analysis. The specific technique used depends on the cause of the data loss and the type of data being recovered. Some file recovery software is designed to recover specific types of data, such as photos or videos, while others are more general-purpose and can recover a wide range of data types.

In some cases, file recovery may be performed by a professional data recovery service, which can use specialized tools and techniques to recover lost data. This is particularly important in cases where the data loss is significant, or when the data is highly sensitive and critical. We will also look at how file recovery software and what tools can be used to recover your files with ease.


data-recoveryFile recovery refers to the process of retrieving data from a storage device (such as a computer hard drive) that has been lost due to deletion, formatting, corruption, or other reasons. This process can be performed using specialized software or hardware tools.

The success of file recovery depends on several factors, including the type of storage device, the severity of the data loss, and the length of time that has passed since the data was deleted or lost. In some cases, only a portion of the lost data may be recoverable, while in other cases the entire file can be restored.

It’s important to note that attempting to recover lost data yourself can potentially cause further damage to the storage device and make it harder or even impossible to recover the data. If you need to recover important files, it is recommended that you seek the help of a professional data recovery service.

Define File Structure On the System

Define-File-Structure-On-the-SystemThe file structure on a system refers to the way in which files are organized and stored on a storage device, such as a hard drive or solid-state drive. The file structure determines how files are named, located, and accessed by the operating system and applications. The two most common file structures used by modern operating systems are the File Allocation Table (FAT) and the New Technology File System (NTFS).

In a file structure, files are typically organized into directories or folders, which can contain other directories and files. The file structure also includes metadata, such as file attributes (e.g., read-only, hidden, etc.), timestamps (e.g., creation, modification, access), and security permissions. The file structure plays an important role in the performance, reliability, and security of the system, and can be optimized through techniques such as defragmentation, compression, and encryption.

How Files Are Organized On File System?


Files are typically organized on a file system using a hierarchical directory structure, which consists of directories (also known as folders) and files.

At the root level, there is typically a single directory that contains all other directories and files on the file system. Each directory can contain additional directories and files, creating a tree-like structure. Directories can be nested within each other to create a deeper hierarchy.

In addition to directories and files, file systems may also include other system files and data structures that store information about the files and directories on the system, such as metadata (e.g., file attributes, timestamps) and the file allocation table (FAT) or master file table (MFT).

Files are organized within directories using a naming scheme that identifies the file’s name and extension and may include other information such as version numbers or file types. Files can be accessed by navigating through the directory structure using a file manager, command line interface, or other file access methods provided by the operating system or applications.

What Happens When You Delete A File?

What-Happens-When-You-Delete-A-FileWhen you delete a file from a computer’s file system, the operating system typically marks the space occupied by the file as “available” for reuse. The actual content of the file is not immediately removed from the disk, but instead, the pointers to the file’s location and the file’s metadata are removed from the file system index, making it appear as if the file no longer exists.

The deleted file is not permanently removed from the disk until the space it occupies is overwritten by new data. This means that the deleted file can sometimes be recovered using file recovery tools, as long as the file’s data has not been overwritten.

The exact behavior of file deletion may depend on the operating system and file system in use, as well as the method used to delete the file (e.g., moving to recycle bin, using a command line, etc.). In some cases, the file may be immediately and permanently deleted, such as when using secure file shredding tools.

What Is File Signature-Based File Recovery?

what-is-file-signatureFile signatures, also known as file headers or magic numbers, are unique patterns of data that are used to identify the format and type of a file. File signatures are typically located at the beginning of a file and consist of a sequence of bytes that are specific to the file format. For example, the file signature for a JPEG image file is “FF D8 FF E0”, while the signature for a PDF document is “%PDF-“. These signatures allow the software to recognize the file type and format, even if the file extension has been changed or is not present.

File signature-based recovery is a method used to recover lost or deleted files from storage devices such as hard drives, memory cards, and USB drives. This method is based on the fact that every file has a unique signature, also known as a file header, which identifies the type and format of the file.

When a file is deleted, the data on the storage device is not necessarily erased immediately, and the space previously occupied by the file is marked as available for new data. In some cases, the file signature may still be present in the unallocated space, which allows for file signature-based recovery. To recover a file using this method, specialized software is used to scan the storage device for file signatures that match the type of file being recovered. Once a matching signature is found, the software can attempt to recover the file by reconstructing the file from the available data.

Some of the common file types and their signatures are given in the table below:

File Signature File Type
FF D8 FF E8 xx xx 53 50

49 46 46 00

EC A5 C1 00 DOC
89 50 4E 47 0D 0A 1A 0A PNG
66 74 79 70 4D 53 4E 56 MPEG-4 video file
FD FF FF FF nn nn 00 00 PowerPoint presentation
57 69 6E 5A 69 70 ZIP
52 49 46 46 xx xx xx xx

41 56 49 20 4C 49 53 54


Explain the Mechanism Of How The File Is Actually Recovered


The mechanism for recovering a deleted file depends on the method used to delete the file and the state of the storage device. In general, file recovery tools work by scanning the storage device for data that has been marked as “available” but has not been overwritten by new data.

When a file is deleted, its data may still be present on the disk, but the file system index no longer points to the file’s location. File recovery tools can search the disk for this orphaned data and attempt to reconstruct the file based on its content and metadata.

The success of file recovery depends on several factors, including how long ago the file was deleted, how much new data has been written to the disk since the deletion, and the degree to which the data has been fragmented or corrupted. To increase the chances of recovering a deleted file, it’s important to stop using the storage device as soon as possible to avoid overwriting the deleted data. It’s also a good idea to use a reputable file recovery tool that is designed to work with the specific file system and operating system in use.

What Are The Types Of File Recovery Techniques?


There are several techniques used in file recovery, including

  1. Undelete: This involves retrieving data that has been deleted from a storage device, but has not been overwritten. The data is usually still present on the device, but is marked as deleted and is no longer accessible to the operating system.
  2. Unformat: This technique involves recovering data from a formatted storage device. In this process, the file system information is reconstructed in order to access the lost data.
  3. File carving: This involves searching for specific file types within a storage device and recovering them even if the file system information is missing or damaged.
  4. Data reconstruction: This involves repairing damaged file system structures and reconstructing the data in order to recover lost data.
  5. Disk imaging: This involves creating a copy of the entire storage device, including both the used and unused space. This image can then be analyzed to recover lost data.
  6. Log file analysis: This involves analyzing log files in order to determine what changes were made to a storage device and to recover lost data.
  7. File signature analysis: This involves searching for unique patterns or signatures within a storage device to identify specific types of files and recover them.

Each of these techniques has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the specific technique used will depend on the cause of the data loss, the type of storage device involved, and the type of data being recovered. Professional data recovery services often use a combination of techniques to achieve the best results.

How Does The Deleted File Recovery Process Recover A File?


The deleted file recovery process typically works by scanning the file system or storage device for data that has been marked as “available” but has not yet been overwritten by new data.

The file recovery software first scans the file system’s directory structure and metadata to locate information about the deleted file, such as the file name, size, and location. If this information is not available, the software may perform a deep scan of the storage device to locate data fragments that match the file’s content or metadata.

Once the file recovery software has located the data fragments that belong to the deleted file, it will attempt to reconstruct the file using various techniques. This may involve piecing together the data fragments in their original order, removing any corruption or errors in the data, and reconstructing the file’s metadata, such as file name, size, and modification time.

The success of the deleted file recovery process depends on several factors, including how much new data has been written to the storage device since the file was deleted, whether the deleted file was fragmented or overwritten, and the type of file recovery software used.

To increase the chances of recovering a deleted file, it’s important to stop using the storage device as soon as possible to avoid overwriting the deleted data, and to use reputable file recovery software that is designed to work with the specific file system and operating system in use.

How Are Deleted Files Recovered?

Deleted files can sometimes be recovered, depending on a few factors such as whether the memory location they occupied has been overwritten by new data, the type of storage media they were on, and the method used to delete them. Here are a few ways to recover deleted photos:

  1. Use file recovery software: There are many software programs available that can scan your storage media for deleted files and recover them. Some popular options include Recuva, Advanced File Recovery, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and Photos Recovery.
  2. Restore from a backup: If you have a backup of your photos, you can restore them from the backup. This is usually the easiest and most reliable way to recover deleted photos, as long as the backup is up-to-date and wasn’t deleted as well.
  3. Use a data recovery service: If the above methods don’t work, you may need to use a professional data recovery service. These services specialize in recovering lost data and may be able to recover your deleted photos if they are recoverable.

It’s important to note that there is no guarantee that deleted photos can be recovered, especially if the memory location they occupied has been overwritten by new data. However, if you act quickly after realizing the photos have been deleted, you may increase your chances of a successful recovery.

How Does File Recovery Software Work?


File recovery software works by scanning the storage media (e.g. hard drive, memory card, USB drive) for deleted or lost files and attempting to recover them. The basic process of file recovery typically involves the following steps:

  1. Scanning: The software scans the storage media and creates a list of all the files that are present, as well as those that have been deleted.
  2. File signature analysis: The software uses file signature analysis to identify the file types of deleted files based on their unique header and footer structures. This allows the software to distinguish between different types of files, such as photos, videos, and documents.
  3. File reconstruction: Once the software has identified the deleted files, it attempts to reconstruct them by piecing together the remaining data on the storage media. The software may also use techniques such as sector copying to recover data from damaged areas of the storage media.
  4. Preview and recovery: The recovered files are then previewed to verify their contents and quality. If the recovery is successful, the user can then select the files they want to recover and save them to a different location.

It’s important to note that not all deleted files can be recovered, and the success of file recovery depends on several factors such as the type of file, the method of deletion, and the condition of the storage media. Nevertheless, file recovery software can be a useful tool for recovering lost data in many cases.

What Tools Can Be Used To Recovery Files?


You may quickly recover various file formats on your computer with the aid of the proper file recovery tool. It is advised against doing copy, transfer, and cut operations on the drive if you have lost your file because the destroyed data may be overwritten and become difficult to retrieve.

Advanced File Recovery 


A strong yet practical program for recovering all types of files from formatted and unbootable devices is Advanced File Recovery. It can play a variety of video, photo, document, audio, and other file formats.

It is a dependable file/folder recovery program for Windows that can quickly recover lost, missing, or destroyed data. On hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, and other external storage devices, it operates flawlessly.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional


You can easily recover your data from laptops, desktop computers, external hard drives, and more with the help of one of the best file recovery software programs, Stellar Data Recovery Professional. With the aid of this incredible application, you can quickly recover data by creating images of the full disc, logical hard drive partitions, or other portable disks.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Professional


Don’t worry if you lose files after an update or upgrade or if you mistakenly delete files since EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Professional can assist you. Your deleted files can be rapidly recovered with this recovery application for Windows 10. Your files can be recovered with the software from discs or partitions that are inaccessible or RAW. The tool only requires three easy actions to recover deleted files.

Product Name Compatibility File Size Price
Advanced File Recovery Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 7.8 MB $69.95/Year
Stellar Data Recovery Professional Windows 11, 10, 8 & 7 4.7 MB $89.99 Per Year
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Professional Windows 11/10/8/7 32 MB $99.95 Per Year


In conclusion, file recovery is a crucial aspect of data management, as it provides a means of restoring lost or damaged files. This research paper has provided an overview of the various types of file recovery techniques, including manual recovery, software recovery, and professional data recovery services. Through the examination of these methods, it is clear that file recovery is a complex and multifaceted process that requires a range of skills and technologies to be successful.

Despite the challenges associated with file recovery, it is important to note that this technology is constantly evolving and improving, with new tools and techniques emerging all the time. This means that the future of file recovery is bright, with ever-increasing opportunities to recover lost or damaged files. As the amount of data generated and stored continues to grow, likely, the importance of file recovery will only continue to increase, making it an area of critical importance for data management and data security.

Therefore, this research paper highlights the importance of file recovery and provides a

foundation for further research and exploration in this field. Whether one is a data analyst, a system administrator, or a computer user, understanding the various techniques and technologies used in file recovery is essential to ensuring the protection and preservation of important data.


  1. “Data Recovery: Methods and Tools,” by M. A. Alhazmi and R. Buyya, published in the Journal of Network and Computer Applications.
  2. “Data Recovery Techniques and Tools,” by R. S. Sandhu, published in the Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law.
  3. “Data Recovery from Hard Disk Drives. A Review of Methods and Tools,” by M. A. Alhazmi and R. Buyya, published in the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing.
  4. “Data Recovery in Distributed Systems: A Review of Methods and Tools,” by M. A. Alhazmi and R. Buyya, published in the Journal of Cluster Computing.
  5. “Data Recovery in Mobile Devices: A Review of Methods and Tools,” by M. A. Alhazmi and R. Buyya, published in the Journal of Mobile Computing and Communications Review.

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About The Author

Preeti Seth
Preeti Seth

A UX writer who loves explaining technical details in a clear, crisp, and concise manner. She loves writing about technical troubleshooting, How-To's, product reviews, etc. In her free time, she loves reading, meditating, and traveling.

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