It's all too easy to delete critical files accidentally, though viruses, uninstallers, and running programs can also delete data you'd prefer to keep. When you delete files and folders in Windows, they go either to the Recycle Bin or, if they're very large, are deleted directly, bypassing the Recycle Bin. But deleted data isn't really gone until it's overwritten, and even then it's sometimes possible to recover data. While forensic labs use expensive equipment and software to recover deleted data, there's a free tool that can recover deleted data from hard drives, flash drives, camera drives, and similar storage volumes. It's called Undelete 360, and we tried the fully portable version, Undelete 360 Portable. Like the installed version, it scans your drives for deleted files, reporting their status as Very Good or overwritten. And, like the installed version and all tools that recover deleted files, there are no guarantees that recovered data will be useful or uncorrupted. But when you turn to a tool like Undelete 360, you're probably facing limited options.
Undelete 360 Portable has the same Office-style theme and ribbon toolbar as the installed version, with tools for recovering and securely wiping files. We created a folder containing various data types, deleted it to the Recycle Bin, and emptied the bin. We then scanned our "C" drive with Undelete 360 Portable. After a minute or so, the program displayed the scan's results in the Files Found window, including our deleted files. We selected those we wanted to recover and started the process. Undelete 360 Portable recovered our files to our chosen destination. Most of the files the tool recovered opened fine, especially the text files, though some images wouldn't open. The program recovered several Word documents, too, but we couldn't open or recover them in Word.
Recovering deleted data is one thing, and using it is another; there are no guarantees that deleted data hasn't become corrupted. But there are tools that can recover corrupted or damaged data, including one offered by Undelete 360 Portable's developer, so don't give up. Successfully recovering deleted or overwritten data may be half the battle.