Files get deleted unintentionally. It happens to everyone at some point. Sometimes they can be recovered from the recycle bin, but if they aren't there it's a little-known secret that they can still usually be recovered from the hard drive anyway. The reason for this is that when a file is deleted by the operating system, it only means that the file has been removed from a table of contents that the file system maintains. The data is still there, but the computer has simply stopped tracking it. It might still be there on the physical hard drive media. Over time, the system may write NEW data to that specific location on the media thereby making it
impossible to recover. But if that hasn't happened yet, special scanning software could find it.
I've been the loudest megaphone that I can possibly be to let people know about this and the free software that is available to accomplish this simple task. Currently, the most recommended tool available that I've seen is called RECUVA. This tool was reviewed positively on Lifehacker and I'd downloaded it upon reading the review.
It wasn't until today that I needed it. And it was for a friend's SD media card. Of course Recuva's details make it clear that it will work on SD and other media cards, so I confidently stated to my friend that I could get it done.
Where this went wrong is that the way that I read SD cards on my computer is to plug them into my Dell Axim. I don't have a built-in or stand-alone SD reader. My camera plugs in directly, but just for reading SD cards this indirect method has always worked.
Except it didn't work in this instance. The recovery software has some options for scanning hard drives, ipods, media cards and other devices. But it failed to scan and locate the media card, even though Explorer could browse to the files on the device with no problem. It seems that it only recognizes drives with letters associated with them (C:, D:, E:, etc.) and since the handheld doesn't get one, then it can't be recognized.
You should still download Recuva and have it in your arsenal anyhow, but don't rely on it to recover files on your Pocket PC, PDA or an SD card inserted in it.
Update: I had a moment after thinking about these steps and I tried the same tool with my camera instead of the handheld. But the results were the same. Oh well, it was worth a shot.