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WinUndelete: Bringing Deleted Files Back Even If You Erased Them From the Recycle Bin!

Jun 23, 2007 (Updated Jun 25, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Undeletes many, many files you thought were unrecoverable.

Cons:Won't get everything.

The Bottom Line: If you work with a lot of files, and delete some of them from the Recycle Bin, and want them back, this is a big help and I recommend it.

Have you ever deleted a file from your computer, put it in the Recycle Bin, deleted it from there, and wanted to get it back? It’s not very often that this happens, but it does happen.

Let’s say you had a picture of a friend, and things didn’t go well with the relationship, and you wanted to get them and their picture out of your life forever, and you did the double-delete thing to their picture. But then life changed and you got back together. And now you want that old picture back. Is there any solution?

Or maybe you were working on your financial stuff and after you were done you double-deleted it. But now you need that back. What can you do?

Or you were working on The Great American Novel, you got tired of the stupid thing, and sent it to that great waste can in the sky, but now you are re-inspired, and you want to resurrect it and work on it some more. Is there any recourse?

Some of us that are old enough to remember, back before Microsoft Windows came out, that we had to use a text-based operating system called DOS. DOS may have been fairly primitive by the standards of Windows XP and Windows VISTA, but it did have one real plus. There was a little program called UNDELETE that came with it. And it was a useful way to bring dead files back into existence once again.

Then Windows came along. You could sort of get a deleted file back from the Recycle Bin, sure, but what if you deleted it from the Recycle Bin? You were out of luck. Windows, “as is” anyway, as far as I can tell, has no such “undelete” program that can do this for the average user.

Enter a little third-party program called “WinUndelete” to the rescue! You can find WinUndelete on the internet at the URL:, and order it there for $49.95 USD. A little expensive? Maybe. But it depends on how important your deleted files are to you. The thing of it is, it gives you back the power to find your super-deleted files. For me the cost is well worth it.

Is it perfect and will it work every time? No. I’ll tell you that up front. It is best for “freshly” deleted files. If a file is really old and has been caught up in the garbage bin of deleted files down in the innards of the drive for too long, it may be really unrecoverable and may be so corrupt it is history. But from personal experience using WinUndelete for two years now, I can tell you that this little software program will bring back many, many files you thought were absolute goners. We are talking text files, pictures, videos, music files- you name it.

You go to the WinUndelete ( site first. You read the instructions which will let you use a free trial version of the program if you so desire.

If you like it, you download the permanent program using your payment account like you would normally order anything online. No problems here with security in paying them. They email you a code and you use that code to unlock the program for permanent use. You download the program, install it, and you get your standard desktop icon. If you want, you can pay about $14.95 extra and the people at WinUndelete will mail you a CD of the program for your permanent collection of software on CDs.

Using the program is fairly easy for the average user. WinUndelete will ask you what drive, or directory on a drive, you want to search for your lost files. By the way, the current version does work with Windows Vista as well as older versions of Windows.

Then it will ask you what kind of files you want; I usually just say “all”. Then, and this is the interesting part, you must designate that the deleted files go first onto a secondary drive. It’s kind of like the buddy system, actually. In other words, it won’t just go from your hard drive straight back onto your hard drive, or from a flash drive back onto the same flash drive. You have to have a “helper” drive. But that’s no problem. If I’m undeleting files off of one USB flash drive, I just plug in another USB flash drive as the “helper-receiver” drive. Or if I’m undeleting files off the main hard disk I just use a USB flash drive or an external hard disk as the “helper” drive. You designate which drive is the “helper” drive, then you have the program next search the drive which has the lost files. It’s really easier than I’m describing here.

A list of your deleted files then appears. WinUndelete tells you which files have the prospect of being recovered- it will say of each of them-“good”, or, if probably unrecoverable-“poor”. You click on a little box beside the filename of a “good” file and then hit the “recover” button. Or, if all the files are good you can designate “recover all”. The files then are brought back to life on the “helper” drive. You can then use them all over again just like back when they worked before.

You can’t pull a whole directory of files back to life by designating a directory name, just the individual files or individual files in a group. But if you want to place them into a designated directory, there is an easy workaround. You just go to the “helper” drive in advance and set up a directory there, and then when you do the WinUndelete procedure, just designate that the files you are recovering go into the previously created directory. No biggie.

After that, if you want the files that used to be on the hard disk back on the hard disk, you simply copy them back there. Same thing for any other drive. You’re back to normal all over again.

Fairly simple once you master two or three elementary steps, actually. I like it. I like it so much that when I switched from XP to Vista I went back and bought the Vista version.

WinUndelete will recover “dead” files from USB flash drives, hard drives, floppies, Zip drives, digital camera cards, and other kinds of digital media. It will recover files deleted from the Recycle Bin or deleted by procedures that go around the Recycle Bin too. Don’t expect it to get everything, but you can expect it to recover many, many things you thought were as dead as a dodo bird.

If I had a wish or two, I wish it would do directories along with individual files. That seems to be a relatively easy improvement to make, but maybe I’m just engaging in wishful thinking. I also wish you didn’t have to use a helper drive like you didn’t have to with DOS, but there are probably good reasons for that. Beyond that there’s not much to quibble about.

I’ve had good luck with it, and you probably will too. Maybe someday a future version of Windows will come with something like this, but for now you can enhance Windows with this relatively simple add-on program. Just go to and take a look.

Four Stars/****

Recommend this product? Yes

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