Computer Guide

Recovery position looks promising
by George Skarbek - 18th April 2006

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Q: I sent a letter to the recycle bin and then emptied the bin. Can I retrieve this letter? I am currently struggling with Windows XP.

A. When a file is deleted it is not physically removed from the disk but its name is changed so that the space occupied by the file is then available for overwriting. However, it may be possible to retrieve it by buying specialised software if this space has not been reused.
There is nothing in any versions of Windows to allow the recovery of deleted items after the recycle bin has been emptied. Depending on how long it has been since you have deleted your file and how much data has since been written to your hard disk will determine the probability of success.

Many programs claim to be able to recover deleted files but I have tested only a couple of them. I suggest that you consider O & O UnErase. See: for details.
You can download a trial version of this program and it will show the files that can be recovered but will not actually recover them. This allows you to find out if your file can be recovered without having to spend money. If your file is found you can buy the unlock code, which will be emailed, making the program active and ready to recover files.

Q: I have a Dell laptop running Windows XP SP2. I noticed that by default my system is using the maximum amount of disk space for "System Restore" of 12 per cent or 11,442 MB. Is this necessary and how much disk space should I safely use. Also, are there any other space settings I should look at and reset?

A. I feel that 11 GB of disk space is far too high as you are not likely to be rolling back vast numbers of upgrades.
The percentage was set when hard disks were much smaller and for some reason Microsoft has not adjusted these percentages.
I feel that a more appropriate figure should be about three times larger than the largest change that will be applied in the future. In this way, you can roll back at least three changes.

The size of these changes varies greatly from less than 1 MB to a few hundred but I feel that if you allocate about 1 GB you should be able to roll back most installation problems.

The only other area where you can very safely save disk space is with the Temporary Internet Files. The default space allocated can be enormous and I have seen more than 3 GB allocated on new installations with a large hard disk.
My recommendation is use about 10 to 20 MB. This is done from Internet Explorer, Tools, Internet Options, Temporary Internet Files and Settings.

Lowering the setting does not result in any performance improvement as 20 MB size is adequate to hold many thousands of these small files that are stored in this area. Typical files are a logo or banner GIF file and will be read from the hard disk rather then downloading from the web if you re-visit the same site.
In this manner IE improves performance as it can be downloading text from the website while retrieving images from the hard disk.
Having 200,000 or more temporary files will not make Internet Explorer go faster as it will have to search all these files to try to find a match.

This cache made sense when users were connected by a slow modem but, especially with ADSL or cable, it does not make sense to fill your hard disk with junk files.

To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here