Ubuntu: How to recover deleted files?


Are there any tools, methods, incantations to recover recently deleted files on Ubuntu?

If it makes any difference, I want to recover a Keepass 2.x database file. But would be better to have a method/tool that works on any kind of file.


TestDisk can sometimes recover recently deleted files.


extundelete is really great if your file system is ext3 or ext4.

Note: extundelete requires you to unmount your drive to work properly (this is a good idea to do ASAP anyway, to avoid potentially overwriting the hopefully-recoverable bytes in the deleted files).

Unmounting the drive on a live system can be tricky... you'll often get the 'device is busy' message. To clear this 'properly' requires shutting down all processes accessing the file system. But... you were likely working in your home directory, and a zillion processes are hooked into your home directory, so good luck with that.

The trick to getting around this is to do a 'lazy' unmount:

$ mount  /dev/sda7 on /home type ext4 (rw)  $ sudo umount -l /home  


  • that example is for me prepping my /home mount for use with extundelete. You obviously need to replace /home with your mount of interest
  • I did the mount command first to figure out what device (/dev/sda7) I need to pass to extundelete (output is truncated for brevity)
  • that is a lower case L in the -l option


I have used foremost to recover damaged hard disk both under NTFS (windows), FAT32 (Flash card from a Nokia phone) and ext3 with great results. Command line only, but quite it's easy, something like this:

sudo foremost -i /dev/sda -o <dir where recovered files will be stored>  

It will order the recovered files on folders by file-type. Openoffice docs are recovered as zip files. As you need to execute it as root (in order to direct access the hardware), output files are also owned by root, so you will likely need to change their ownership afterwards.


To recover the directory you can use extundelete

  1. Install extundelete

    sudo apt-get install extundelete  
  2. Command to recover

    sudo extundelete --restore-directory /home/Documents/ /dev/sda1  

Note: In place of dev/sda1 put your hardisk partition name.

/home/Documents/ is your path to deleted directiory.


R-Linux(Recovery studio) is one of the best. I have used this tool many times before. I worked at a company where they used the commercial version, 9/10 times it recovers everything you want. Truly superb application. Saved mine, and friends behinds many times before.

R-Linux is a free file recovery utility for the Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 FS file system used in the Linux OS and several Unixes. R-Linux uses the same InteligentScan technology as R-Studio, and flexible parameter settings to provide the fastest and most reliable file recovery for the Linux platform. However, unlike R-Studio, R-Linux cannot recover data over network or reconstruct RAIDs, or provide object copy.

Features (from their website):

R-Linux recover files:

  • Removed by virus attack, power failure or system crash;
  • After the partition with the files was re-formatted, damaged, or deleted;
  • When the partition structure on a disk was changed or damaged. In this case, R-Linux can scan the disk trying to find previously existing partitions and restore files from found partitions.
  • From disks with bad sectors. In this case, R-Linux can first copy the entire disk or its part into an image file and then process the image file. This is especially useful when new bad sectors are constantly appearing on the disk, and remaining information must be immediately saved.

R-Linux Advanced features:

  • Standard "Windows Explorer" - style interface.
  • Host OS:
    • Linux variant: Linux, kernel 2.6 and above
    • Windows variant: Win2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Supported file systems: Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 FS (Linux) only.
  • Recognition and parsing Dynamic (Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7), Basic, GPT and BSD (UNIX) partitions layout schema and Apple partition map. Dynamic partitions over GPT are supported as well as dynamic partitions over MBR.

  • Creates image files for an entire hard drive, logical disk, or its part. Such image files can be processed like regular disks. Images can be either simple exact object copies (Plain images) compatible with the old versions of R-Linux, or compressed images that can be compressed, split into several parts, and password-protected. Such images are fully compatible with the images created by R-Drive Image, but incompatible with the old versions of R-Linux.

  • Recognizes localized names.

  • Recovered files can be saved on any (including network) disks accessible by the host operating system.


If using secondary internal HD (suspect the same for external HD) for recovered file import (from main HD, where the files originally were), it’s necessary to make a directory, into which the files will be put in on secondary HD. To do it, you need to have BIOS setting for booting from CD first! 1. Start Live Ubuntu Rescue-Remix CD, give command to boot, then when it boots into terminal, check your HDs by command â€" Code: sudo fdisk -l

Realize what HD is main, and which is secondary, and what partition to check for files and into which to recover them â€" linux ext3 or Windows NTFS! Mine was Linux. Have enough room on it! (Then you can try to run Photorec (“sudo photorec”) and hopefully you’ll be able to see all your HDs. I was not that lucky, so I had to make directory and mount sec. HD.)

  1. Make directory for recovered files first, e.g. â€" media/disk. Give command â€" Code: sudo mkdir /media/disk

If alright, terminal prompt simply returns.

  1. Must mount secondary HD, or it’ll be invisible, even if “sudo fdisk -l” does show it. Give command for your secondary HD â€" Code: sudo mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb2 /media/disk

If alright, terminal prompt simply returns.

  1. Run Photorec by command â€" Code:

    sudo photorec

Go thru settings, and only choose file types that you want, otherwise you’ll have thousands of files to sift thru!

For more details you may please visit: http:/www..ubuntumanual.org/posts/357/recover-your-deleted-files-in-ubuntu


If you deleted some file by accident but still know some strings which were written in that file you can use:

grep -a -B 25 -A 100 'containing string' /dev/sda1 > result.txt  


Try Scalpel

sudo apt-get install scalpel  

for more info

man scalpel


Autopsy and the Sleuthkit tools are great for recovering deleted files, with a user-friendly UI, as well as being available in the repos.


Recently I used ext3grep to recover a large SQLite 3 file that was deleted from an ext3 file system.

I had tried many other undelete tools, all which couldn't recover the file (from a dd image of the disk).

In order to use ext3grep, I needed to download and compile the source. Carefully reading http://www.xs4all.nl/~carlo17/howto/undelete_ext3.html from top to bottom in order to understand how the ext3 file system works and how to use the journal to find where deleted files use to be on the disk was also required.

This is not a simple solution, but very, very powerful. If you're prepared to invest a few hours to study the document and compile the program, it's well worth it.

Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
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7 February 2018 at 15:31 delete

Tahnk you so much for writing this. It was a great help