Undelete your final essay

Jacob Nahin

It’s 1:45 p.m., nearly an hour before your final English class for the semester. The 20-page final essay, your six-hour masterpiece, is ready to print. While you were typing, you saved the document every five minutes, “just in case.” So what do you do with your free time? A little spring cleaning on your computer. A few re-organized files, a couple new folders and one stray document in the trash. Empty. Click. Then, the blood drains from your face as you realize that your precious paper was one of those documents.

Don’t panic. Before you rip your hair out, try out one of these file-recovery solutions.

First, software. Go the Phoenix Technology’s Web site and download the free trial for Undelete Plus. Whether the file was deleted from the Recycle Bin or by pressing Shift+Delete, Undelete Plus should be able to snatch it back from digital death. How does this work? Files that are deleted on a computer aren’t really deleted. Instead the computer only seems to delete that file and designates the deleted file as free space.

Undelete Plus web site.

What if your file is saved on a scratched up CD? Try plain toothpaste, a cheap but effective mild abrasive. Simply wet the disc, place a tiny drop of toothpaste on the scratched area, and lightly buff with a micro-fiber cloth in an up and down motion.

What about a lost USB key?  While not necessarily helpful after the fact, uploading files using web-mail solutions like GMail or Yahoo Mail serves as a useful, but accessible backup. Set up an account with one of these services that is solely for backing up nonsensitive files and upload away.