NTFS Undelete – The Rescue Act When You Want To Recover A Deleted File [Windows]

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windows undeleteSometimes the most unglamorous of software can be lifesavers. File recovery software fall into that category. The free and Open Source NTFS Undelete for Windows is devoid of frills but a surefooted member we would like to include when we talk about free file recovery options.

Of course, NTFS Undelete is not a one of a kind file recovery tool. We have covered a bunch of them and you can find them under the file recovery and undelete tags.

Recovering files and undoing the delete process is more common than we would like to think. When we delete a file, there’s the Recycle Bin as a parachute and also the CTRL+Z keys. But an undelete utility is for the “˜ooops’ moments when you throw caution to the winds and banish an essential file to digital limbo.


This article was accurate at the time of writing. However, it is no longer freeware.

So, instead of shedding tears of frustration; shout emergency, and launch a file recovery software like NTFS Undelete.

Small Size & Three Download Options

NTFS Undelete (ver. 0.94) is a small 2MB download in the ZIP archive format. You can also download it as a Windows installer or as an ISO image. You can go with the ZIP download, because then you can run it straight from a standalone folder without an installation. Though, I had some problems with the ZIP version on my system. NTFS Undelete runs on Win XP and Vista.

The Plain Jane Look

windows undelete

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NTFS Undelete is a utilitarian software; a straightforward interface with three tabs. There’s no help file, so it’s best that the software is without any frills. We will look into the tabs when we put this little software through its paces.

Recover Beyond the Recycle Bin

NTFS Undelete, as its name suggests, works on Windows NTFS systems and can recover files even if they are gone from the Recycle Bin. It will work best if you run NTFS Undelete as soon as you have emptied the Recycle Bin. When a file is deleted, it is removed from the bin, but physically it still exists on the NTFS file system. Only the space it occupied is marked as free for other files to occupy it. The success of recovery is increased if no other file overwrites that original space.

The Rescue Act

I started my hunt for some wallpapers, mp3’s, and a movie file I deleted by mistake. The Browse tab can be used to select the drive or the original folder from where the file was killed off.

First, bring up the Search tab. NTFS Undelete gives you a Simple search and an Advanced search.

undelete file

As you will see, the Simple search is like casting a wide net for the lost file while the Advanced search lets you finetune the hunt with options. If you have the right information, the latter can save you some time. The one thing you should always use is the File Mask as it will help to scour for only that particular file type and not the whole lost tribe.

Use the right-click menu to select and mark the files you want to recover and go to the next tab. The Recover marked files is where you need to hold your breath.

windows undelete

Set a destination folder for the “˜undeleted’ files as NTFS Undelete recommends not recovering files to the same partition they were located. If you want to recover a bunch of files and aren’t concerned about the folder, uncheck Recover Folder Structure. Clicking on Recover to bring the dead and gone files back.

Head to the destination folder and with some luck you will get the files back along with some identifier files that you need not pay any attention to.

In The Spirit of Open Source

NTFS Undelete is Open Source software written in Python, so coders can have a go at it. I am not sure whether the freeware is being developed further as there is no information on its page.

Sigh Of Relief Or”¦.?

Success or failure with file recovery software depends on the bits and bytes of the deleted that have been overwritten by successive files. NTFS Undelete scanned pretty fast and managed to recover freshly deleted files competently.

A few more filters or at least a search field to search a file by name would have helped. The lack of help may set off less experienced users as it’s difficult to make out from the list of files which ones can be successfully recovered. Color coding or the use of icons would have been a visual aid.

But hey, I am not complaining because when it comes to recovering my deleted file, I am willing to sweat it out for the moment it takes NTFS Undelete to get it back for me.

We have included three file recovery tools in our list of The Best Of: Windows Software. You should always have one close by. Do you think NTFS Undelete deserves a space? Let us know.

Image: Shutterstock

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Comments (34)
  • Accountants

    This is a great article – I didn’t even realise there was free versions of software that would recover deleted files, if only our firm of accountants knew this a few weeks ago when we were going through hell!

  • Anonymous

    The software is not freeware. In these days where there are lots of undelete tools that are free, it is just not worth it.

    I am sure you will change your original post and highlight it unless you are somewhat related to the company that produces that software and are doing some blogging just to boost their site rank ;)

    • Saikat Basu

      You have come to the party a bit late ;) It went paid at the turn of the year and as I am totally unrelated to the company, I didn’t get the advance notice that they were going commercial. But yes, you advice on putting a notification or alert on the article is a good one.

  • Anonymous

    The software is not freeware. In these days where there are lots of undelete tools that are free, it is just not worth it.

    I am sure you will change your original post and highlight it unless you are somewhat related to the company that produces that software and are doing some blogging just to boost their site rank ;)

  • Anonymous

    it is not free. do not download it. it asks for registering and paying before restoring files.

    • Saikat Basu

      They seem to have completely revamped the software (as you will see from the screenshots) and the site. Unfortunately, since the time this post was written, the once-freeware has gone paid. Probably, the change was slated for 2011 and without any prior notification of the change from freeware to shareware.

  • helpMeBrigade

    re: ntfs undelete ;
    when will they be releasing a windows 7 version?

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.