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Thread: How to recover almost anything

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    asking How to recover almost anything

    Just found out that you deleted the wrong spreadsheet? Forgot your Windows password? Don't despair. You can take care of these and many other goofs with the following tips.

    It's amazing how fast a single keystroke or mouse click can change your life. One false move, and bang! An hour's, day's, or even lifetime's work can slip away into digital oblivion. But not everything that disappears is lost forever. These tips will help you retrieve the seemingly irretrievable: from files long ago removed from the Recycle Bin, to hard drives you pronounced dead in years past, to text messages zapped from your cell phone's SIM card. Get it back, Loretta!
    Recover a missing or deleted file: The file was there just a second ago--you'd swear to it! Before you panic and start shopping for a file-recovery programme, make sure that you don't make things worse. If you're certain that you deleted the file, refrain from running any software designed to save files to the hard drive, a USB flash drive, or a memory card that the files was stored on; doing so may overwrite recoverable data.

    Begin by checking the obvious. If the file isn't in XP's Recycle Bin, click Start, Search and use Windows' 'When was it modified?' option (if you don't see this option, click View, Explorer Bar, Search and in the left pane select All files and folders). In Vista, choose Start, Search, click the down arrow to the right of Advanced Search, and select Date modified in the Date dropdown menu on the left. Look for any recently created, altered, or renamed files. If you find the one you're looking for, save it onto at least two different storage devices.

    If you come up empty, there's a good chance you can recover the file with an undelete utility. Two freebies--PC Inspector File Recovery and FreeUndelete--are well worth a try.

    But what if you've accidentally reformatted a drive, for example? For situations where you need extra data recovery horsepower, QueTek's $49 File Scavenger offers many of the recovery capabilities of far more expensive programmes. Meanwhile, Kroll Ontrack's $500 Easy Recovery Professional is the Cadillac of data recovery programmes; it comes with Ontrack's high-powered data recovery tools and a suite of file repair utilities. Though it's too expensive for most individuals, it's not a bad investment for a small business or for a midsize company's IT department.
    Beware the fine print for Ontrack's stripped-down, $89 Easy Recovery Lite version, however; it allows you to recover only 25 files at a time--a major inconvenience if you have lots of data to recover.

    Recover files from a dead or dying hard drive: Strange noises or an outburst of corrupted-file messages could very well portend the imminent failure of your hard drive. Copy important files to another drive or to a removable medium immediately. If you can't access some files that you simply must have, you may have to turn to an expensive data-recovery service such as DriveSavers.
    Recover images and repair files

    Find lost images and sounds: The recovery programmes I described above can find deleted photos (and other lost data) on most of the memory cards used in digital cameras, but you'll have a better chance of success if you use a programme designed specifically to recover photo files. Art Plus's Digital Photo Recovery and PC Inspector's Smart Recovery are free utilities that do a good job on JPEG, TIFF, and RAW files.

    Repair Word and Excel files: If a Word or Excel file is garbled or won't open at all, use Microsoft's built-in file-repair tools: Click File, Open, and locate and select the damaged file. Then click the arrow on the right side of the Open button and select Open and Repair from the drop-down menu.

    Repair your Word or Excel installation: When Word or Excel starts to behave badly, it's tempting to uninstall and reinstall the programme. But running Microsoft's repair utility may be a quicker and simpler solution: Open Control Panel and select Add or Remove Programmes in XP, or Uninstall a programme in Vista (in Control Panel's Classic view, double-click Programmes and Features). Find the entry for Word, Excel, or Microsoft Office, and in XP click the Change button, select either Reinstall or Repair, and follow the prompts. In Vista, click Repair at the top of the window, and step through the wizard.

    Recover a lost password: It's not just a symptom of old age. Whether due to infrequent use or an abundance of protected accounts, anybody can forget a password. These tips will help you overcome your memory lapse.

    Setting a security password in your PC's BIOS is a great way to keep people off your PC: Until the user enters the password, your PC won't even start.
    You can reset a BIOS password on most motherboards by resetting a small electrical switch--or "jumper"--on your motherboard. Check your motherboard's manual or the vendor's Web site for instructions on how to identify and reset the jumper.

    It's embarrassingly easy to bypass the Windows XP log-on password: Simply restart your PC and press the <F8> key just before Windows starts. At the Advanced Options menu, select the first option: Safe Mode.
    XP will boot into Safe Mode and display a log-on screen with icons for already-established user names, as well as an icon for Administrator. Log onto the Administrator account--leaving the password blank unless you've previously assigned a password for the account--and once in Windows, open the Control Panel and select User Accounts. Now you can reset the passwords for any account.

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