Lance Whitney

    Associate Contributor

    Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books -- one on Windows and another on LinkedIn. Follow him on Twitter at

  • How to recover deleted files

    You need a document, photo or other file that you're sure was deleted. You've searched your hard drive. You've scoured the Recycle Bin. No sign of it? Don't panic. As long as you act quickly, you can usually bring that file back to life. And to accomplish that feat, you'll want to turn to a recovery program to help you undelete it. I've used and recommend three such applications: Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery and Active Uneraser. With these programs, you can run a quick search for recently deleted files and conduct a more time-consuming but thorough scan to dig up older ones. You can scan external media, such as USB drives and SD cards, as well as your computer's internal disk. If the deleted file is one you've synced or stored in the cloud, you can typically undelete it as long as your cloud provider offers some type of recycle bin or trash folder. Popular services such as OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, Box and Dropbox all give you ways to resuscitate deleted files, but even here you need to act quickly. These services typically grant you up to 30 days to recover a file. After the clock has run out, those deleted files are purged and removed from their file servers. If you want to revive a deleted file, an old adage applies: the sooner the better. When you delete a file in Windows, that file first bounces to the Recycle Bin. You can bypass the bin by turning it off through its Properties window or holding down the Shift key when you delete a file. Even if you use the Recycle Bin, at some point it will get too full and start kicking out older files. In other cases, you may decide to empty your bin to free up disk space. And that's when the adventure begins. When you permanently delete a file in Windows, it's not physically removed from the disk. Rather, the file's locations are marked as available by the file-allocation table. As such, the file still lives -- unless and until you start storing new files that end up overwriting the deleted one. A file is stored in separate clusters of space on your hard drive. Some of a file's clusters may become overwritten with new data while other clusters remain intact. In those cases, you may be able to recover parts of a file but not necessarily the whole thing. Of course, going forward, you should always back up important documents and other files on a regular basis. In that case, you can retain deleted files on your backup source for as long as you want. But as far as repairing the damage that's been done, these three apps do a good job recovering a deleted file from your PC.

  • The best iPhone camera apps

    You like snapping photos on your iPhone. But you find the default Camera app limited in certain ways. Maybe you want more power and control over the photos you take. No problem: A variety of apps can beef up your phone's photo-taking skills. Camera+ 2 offers a range of advanced and easily accessed manual controls. ProCamera gives you several layers of controls and features for both photos and videos. Halide provides a host of manual controls and settings that you can adjust and customize. Obscura 2 presents a range of advanced controls in a user-friendly package. And ProCam 5 is the ultimate camera app, with more than enough features to satisfy even the more die-hard photographer.