How To: Recover Deleted Files in Linux Using Photorec

Frequently I get messages like “I have accidentally deleted my project. Is there any way to recover it in Linux?” or “I worked really hard on that program and managed to deleted it right before submission :( How do I recover?”. Well I didn’t really have any idea on “How to actually recover deleted files in Linux”.

A few days back I was designing the new logo for Videocache in Inkscape. After finishing the design, I saved the svg file carefully. And deleted other images which I embedded in the logo. A few moments later I realized that I just screwed up myself by deleting all those files as the svg file is now good for nothing.

I searched a lot on recovering files in Linux but in vain. Then a friend (bitgeek) told me about Photorec. I managed to recover all the files using photorec. I thought it would be a good idea to let others know and spread a good word about Photorec. Below is a step by step howto on using Photorec to recover your files.

What is Photorec?

From Photorec website,

PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from Hard Disks and CDRom and lost pictures (thus, its ‘Photo Recovery’ name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the filesystem and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s filesystem has been severely damaged or re-formatted.

For This HowTo

Lets say I had a file download_arrow.png in /home/saini/Desktop which I have removed accidentally. Login as root and create a directory recover which will be used to store all the recovered files.

Install testdisk/PhotoRec

Photorec comes as a part of testdisk package in Fedora (I hope its same for other distributions as well). Use yum to install testdisk.

[root@fedora-tips ~]$ yum install testdisk

Launch Photorec

Once you are done with installation. Open a terminal and launch photorec (as root).

[root@fedora-tips recover]$ photorec

Select Hard Disk

If you have more than one hard disk in your system, select the one from which you have deleted the file(s).

PhotoRec Hard Disk Selection

Select Partition Type

If your hard disk has Linux partitions, then select [Intel].

PhotoRec Partition Selection

Select Filetype Option

Move to [File Opt] and press enter. Here you can disable all file types by pressing ‘s’ . Use space to toggle the check button. Now since we removed a png file, we are going to check only png file type.

PhotoRec Filetype Selection

Select Options

Photorec also has a list of different options. Under normal circumstances you don’t need to modify them

PhotoRec Option Selection

Select Partition

Move the selector to the partition from which you have removed the file. Then press enter on search.

PhotoRec Partition Selection

Select Filesystem Type

If you are using Linux, its going to be ext2/ext3/ext4. So the default selection is file.

PhotoRec Partition Selection

Select Space for Analysis

Select free if you didn’t write to that partition after removing the particular file otherwise select whole.

PhotoRec Space Selection

Select a Directory to Recover Files

Now select the path where the recovered files will be stored. Then press ‘Y’.

PhotoRec Recovery Directory Selection

Recovery Progress

Photorec will show how many files it has recovered.

PhotoRec Recovery Progress

All recovered file will be stored in the directory selected above. Open them in a file browser and you’ll get the removed file there. I hope this howto will help you recovering files you accidentally delete :)

 

How To: Configure VNC Server

Vncserver is just another application available in almost all the available Linux based distros. Configuring vncserver is very easy. But the default desktop view in vncviewer is gray scale desktop with very pathetic GUI. To view normal Gnome or KDE desktop in vncviewer, assigning a custom port for usage, user configuration and to adjust the resolution of the vncviewer window, some files need to be configured properly. Here are the required configuration in any version of Fedora/Fedora Core. But with minor modifications these can be applied to other distros like Ubuntu, SuSE, Gentoo etc.

Step 1: Installing Vncviewer, Vncserver

As root do this

[root@bordeaux saini]# yum install vnc [Enter]

Step 2: Configuring resolution, port & user

The default location of server configuration file for vncserver is ‘/etc/sysconfig/’. To configure the resolution, user and port open ‘/etc/sysconfig/vncservers’ in you favorite editor and add two lines per user configuration shown ..

VNCSERVERS=":"
VNCSERVERARGS[]="-geometry x x"

Example :

VNCSERVERS="3:saini"
VNCSERVERARGS[3]="-geometry 1000x700"

You can choose any display port, but it should not be in use by another X server. Window height and width can be anything (not in fraction of course). But keep in mind that the system on which you are going to view the desktop using vncviewer should have greater resolution than what you specify here, otherwise scrollbars will appear.

Step 3: Configuring Desktop Environment

The user specific configuration files of vncviewer resides in ‘.vnc’ directory in user’s home directory. (e.g. ‘/home/saini/.vnc/’). Open ‘.vnc/xstartup’ in your favorite editor and edit as below

  • For Gnome

The ‘xstartup’ file shout look like this

#!/bin/sh
 
# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
unset SESSION_MANAGER
exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
 
[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
#xsetroot -solid grey
#vncconfig -iconic &
#xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
#twm &
startx &
  • For KDE

The ‘xstartup’ file should look like this

#!/bin/sh
 
# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
#unset SESSION_MANAGER
#exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
 
[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
#xsetroot -solid grey
#vncconfig -iconic &
#xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
#twm &
startkde &

Step 4: Configuring password

For setting up vncviewer password for user ‘xyz’, login as user ‘xyz’ and issue ‘vncpasswd’ command on a terminal/konsole (or whatever). Enter password twice and you are done with password setting.

Step 5: Starting Vncserver

To start vncserver, login as root and issue ‘service vncserver start’ command. If service started successfully, you are ready to use vncviewer on a remote/local machine.

Step 6: Accessing through Vncviewer

  • From Linux based machines
[saini@bordeaux saini]# vncviewer IP_Address:displayPort [Enter] #(IP Address is for the machine where you set up vncserver)
  • From Windows

On windows there is a software called RealVnc. Install it and enter <IPAddress>:<displayPort> in the dialog box.
[I explained how to connect via windows because it may help someone get a bit of relief.]

Screenshots:

  • Vncviewer with Gnome as Desktop environment

VNC Server VNC Viewer Screenshot GNOME

  • Vncviewer with KDE as Desktop environment

VNC Server VNC Viewer Screenshot KDE

Vnc is nice tool if you want to avoid using windows. I use it all the time. While I am forced to work on windows system, I install vncviewer and use it in full screen mode 😛 It also helps when you want to run some gui based application and monitor is remotely. Because if you close vncviewer window and use vncviewer again, you will be given the desktop session where you left it (all windows open and applications running).