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Preliminary remark

This page is only about accidental deletion of files on your personal computer (laptop or desktop). For files accidentally deleted in your /user/<user_name> directory, you must ask the administrators to restore a backup.

"Using rm command, I've accidentally removed some important files..."

... and you want to know if it is reversible. Well, it depends on several things :

- the type of your file system (Ext2 ? Ext3 ?);
- the status of the file system (corrupted or not) when the incident occurred;
- the time elapsed after the deletion;
- what you did on the computer after the deletion.

What you must do

Here is what to do if you have accidentally removed some files (whith a "rm -rf *" for example) :

  • Immediately shutdown your computer cleanly ! We insist on the "cleanly" : if you corrupt your file system with a brutal power off, chances of getting back your deleted files are strongly reduced. We also insist on the "immediately" : if you go on with using your computer after the deletion, some "blocks" (space units on the disk) freed by the deletion will be reallocated to other files, and it will compromise the recover.
  • Bring your computer to the computing team.

What we will try to do

  • We will reboot your computer using a "live Linux" (it is a Linux system booted from a CD or DVD). That way, your hard disk is not mounted and so, there is no risk of reallocation of freed blocks.
  • We will then make a full copy (called "image") of the entire partition where you have made the deletion.
  • We will launch a recovery program (Ext3grep and/or Extundelete) on the image of your partition.