When the site loads, click the Download Recuva link to continue. The next page invites visitors to make a donation to the developer. Alternatively, just continue by clicking the Download link. At the next page, click the Download Latest Version link and if the browser displays a warning message, ignore it and continue. Finally, click the Save button, choose where to download the program and click Save again.
When the program has downloaded, find the new icon and double-click it to start the installation. Ignore any Windows security messages and click Run, then follow the defaults until the Install Options dialogue box appears. Here, decide whether to install Recuva with the Yahoo toolbar that is included as an optional extra, or remove the tick next to it to ensure that only Recuva itself is installed (we would certainly recommend removing the tick). Finally, click Install and then Finish to conclude setting up the program.
Find the new program icon on the Windows Desktop and double-click it to start Recuva. By default, the program starts the Recuva Wizard. This is designed to make it easier for beginners to retrieve files that have been accidentally deleted. Click Next to start, then tell the wizard what kind of file to search for (we have lost a picture) and click Next again. Then, tell the wizard where the file was located (in our case, the Recycle Bin) and click Next again. We will also show how to find files in other ways in later steps.
At the next screen, click the Start button to begin the search. Even on a large disk drive, this level of search does not take long and Recuva will display the results in a moment or two. Our test PC’s Recycle Bin is apparently completely empty, yet here Recuva has managed to find the photograph that we ‘accidentally’ deleted. To retrieve the file and make it visible to Windows again, we just click in the box next to it and then click the Recover button.
It’s best to save a recovered file onto a different disk to prevent overwriting files with the same name, or even risk losing as-yet-unrecovered other files. So, when the Browse For Folder dialogue box opens, choose a different location if one is available; a USB flash disk for example. We do not have anything like that to hand so we are going to have to recover the file onto the same disk and take our chances. Click OK, ignore the warning dialogue and click Yes and here is the file, previewed in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.
Let’s take a step back and imagine that we want to find a file we deleted a few days ago. If the first scan (Step 4) finds nothing, Recuva will offer to perform a ‘Deep Scan’ that will search the disk itself for the file, rather than just trying to find it in the index. This takes a lot longer but will often produce results where a standard scan fails. Here for example, it has managed to find four pictures that were deleted and again, the first one happens to be the one we are looking for.
There are various ways to display the results. Right-click on any of the recovered files and select View Mode from the pop-up menu and then choose List View. When Recuva finds lots of possible files, list view is a better way to display them because it fits more into the dialogue box and displays clearly what the chances are of recovering the file. The coloured dots range from green (excellent) to red (unrecoverable) and this is also displayed in the State column. To restore a file, select it and then click Recover.
If the wizard does not find the file, try this. Start Recuva again and when the wizard screen is displayed, click the Cancel button. This starts the program in Advanced Mode. In this example we are now trying to retrieve a Microsoft Word document that we deleted a couple of days ago. First, we select the disk to scan from the dropdown list above the main window and then specify the file type in the dropdown list over on the right. In this example we are looking for Documents on disk C. Next, we click Scan.
Recuva will then search through the selected disk, looking for deleted documents. In this example, it has found the one we are looking for, an article written for Computeractive magazine that we deleted ‘by mistake’. Recuva has flagged the file with a green dot indicating that the chances of recovering it are excellent. If the file was a photograph it is often possible to have look at it by clicking the Preview tab in the right-hand panel. Because it is a document, we can check it out by clicking the Info tab instead.
Finally, click the Options button at the top right to change various important Recuva settings. From here it is possible to set the default view, whether the program runs the wizard every time when it starts, whether it automatically runs a deep scan every time, the kinds of files it can look for and whether it is allowed to search inside hidden system folders. Ticking these options will often improve the chances of finding a deleted file but will also slow the process down.