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Recovering Deleted Files in Linux/UNIX:

Many people think that recovering files in Linux is not possible, this is not true. It is not impossible to recovery deleted linux files, it is just rather difficult and not always successful. Unlike Windows it is much harder to recover files that have been accidently deleted in Linux. UNIX based systems assume the user is more advanced and places more responsibility on the users to make sure their are correct. While in Windows you have the simple recycle bin, and then the ease of searching for deleted files by name and recovering them things are more complicated in Linux and there is no true undelete utility. The best policy is a very good backup policy, however when that does not happen you still have an opportunity to recover the files.

Limitations on Recovering Deleted Linux/UNIX Files:

Unlike in Windows deleted files do not retain their names or extensions so it can be difficult to find the necessary deleted files that you want back. Using the correct software you will be able to find deleted files by file size and date of deletion so it is possible to narrow down the possible files that you need. It is also important to recover the files as soon as possible because once the space that the file had occupied is overwritten is gone forever (the same goes for files deleted in any operating system).

How to Recover Deleted Linux/UNIX Files:

Your best bet in getting the files back is a software package called Midnight Commander. I have personally recovered important files from a file server that saw more than 500,000 files deleted at one time with no backup in place. Midnight Commander is GNU (free) software that runs on UNIX based operating systems. Midnight Commander can be obtained at

For information on using it to undelete your files in Linux or UNIX please see our tutorial: Using Midnight Commander to Undelete Deleted Linux / UNIX files.

If you are not using an ext2 partion you can see our tutorial: How to Recover Deleted Linux/UNIX Files on non-ext2 partions.


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