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Q: Recovering lost data from RAM ( Answered,   7 Comments )
Subject: Recovering lost data from RAM
Category: Computers
Asked by: fraha-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 27 Aug 2004 13:33 PDT
Expires: 26 Sep 2004 13:33 PDT
Question ID: 393539
I lost some digital photographs by opening up a CF card in my card
reader and accidentally hitting "Cut" instead of "Copy" when I clicked
on the file.  The information was never pasted, the data was never
named, and the computer was turned off.  This was in late June. Is
there ANY WAY to recover the images from my RAM?  Is there a place in
the San Francisco Bay Area which can do this for me?  (Preferably East
Bay.)  It's worth $500 to me.  Another hurdle:  the images probably
don't have unique names, as I was copying several CF cards (the others
successfully) that same day.  Don't ask about the CF card:  it is
toast, it is dead, it is history.  Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by till-ga on 27 Aug 2004 15:27 PDT
You may have read the comments, specially the one by moocowjuice-ga:
Just to make it sure: the CF cards do not exits any longer, correct ?

Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
Answered By: legolas-ga on 28 Aug 2004 09:55 PDT
Hi fraha-ga,

Unfortunately, as you've suspected by reading the comments below,
there is no way to recover the images. However, it might come as some
condolence that the images were NEVER in your computer's RAM.

When you CUT or COPY files, all Windows does is create a LINK in
memory to the file's location (similar to an index in a book.. It only
has a page number to the content you want). So, the fact that you hit
ctrl-x or ctrl-c (cut/copy) had no bearing whatsoever on the files on
the card. In fact, the files never left the card! It is only when you
PASTE the files that Windows goes ahead and copies the files.

Now, even more interesting is the way that Windows handles CUTs.
CUTing a file is handled in EXACTLY the same way as copying the file
(as far as Windows is concerned). Basically, the file is copied, then
verified. The only difference is that in a CUT, the file is then
"deleted" from the original location.

Now, if the CF card was still in good shape and/or able to be read,
you can easily recover deleted files from it. However, since the CUT
operation was never completed, the files were never copied and never

The flow goes something like this:

1. You mark the files and select CUT.
2. Windows remembers the filenames and locations (index in a book) and
that you want to CUT them.
3. You navigate to the appropriate area to PASTE them.
4. Windows THEN copies the files.
5. Windows verifies that the copy occured and that the files are
identical to the original files.
6. If the files were copied correctly, windows "deletes" the files by
changing the first character of the filename in the system index to a
NULL. That's techie lingo for the hex character of '00' or, in plain
english... A blank.

So, the quick answer is that there is NO WAY to recover the
information from your RAM because 1. It was never there and 2. As soon
as you turn the computer off, the RAM is gone. Think of it as a
lightbulb.. When you turn the light switch off, there is no
"left-over" electric or "left-over" light. Same thing for RAM.

Sorry for the disappointing news.

If you require any clarification of this answer, please ask prior to
rating and thus closing this question.


No search performed. This is within my area of expertise.

Request for Answer Clarification by fraha-ga on 28 Aug 2004 14:19 PDT
Yes, the CF card is gone.  It appeared to be empty after I performed
the "Cut," and then I took it to some guy who didn't get the picture--
even after I explained EXACTLY how I had lost the data, or it appeared
lost, he did searches for a corrupt file or something, used two
separate programs and blasted the card to death and said there was
nothing on there, nothing.  I gave it to a second guy who said he
could get the data and this guy told me the card broke his card
reader!  He took it back to the manufacturer for a refund or

Request for answer clarification:  you say the file was still there
after I performed the "Cut."  Of course the file had visually
disappeared from the CF card.  How could I have gotten that file back
at that time?

Clarification of Answer by legolas-ga on 28 Aug 2004 20:53 PDT
Hi fraha-ga,

I really can't account for why the files disappeared from the CF card
as soon as you selected 'cut'. The normal way it would visually be
shown would be to show it as 'ghosted'. My guess is that either 1. you
really DID paste it somewhere (even though you didn't notice it... I'd
try to do a search of your harddrive for the particular filenames) or,
2. You didn't "Eject" the CF card correctly and you discovered
something that could be called a bug.. Basically, if you remove the
card without ejecting it, the last 'delete' operation may be done on
your current CF card.

Let me explain.. CF Cards are sometimes optimized to 'cache' (or put
off write operations) to optimize reads. What happens is that Windows
will wait a bit before doing the ACTUAL write to the card to improve
what the user perceives as the speed of the write. It then writes to
the card at a slightly later time when there is more time... If you
remove the card and reinsert a new card, the write operation that you
started to delete the files on a previous card might have been cached
and, once the NEW card was inserted, the write operation completed.

That's one of a few scenarios that could explain the paradox..
However, what is more clear is that the people you took the card to
did not do a proper job. They should have easily been able to undelete
the files and recover your files within 30 mins (at the longest).
There are shareware programs that are specifically designed to recover
files from CF cards, and they work very well. I've used them myself
when I discovered the 'cache' bug I describe above ate my family
vacation pictures! (oops!)


Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
From: chrisward1000-ga on 27 Aug 2004 13:49 PDT
not a chance mate
Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
From: just4fun2-ga on 27 Aug 2004 13:53 PDT
The pictures would have had to be saved on a harddrive before the
computer was turned off, if you wanted to reprint them.

Once a computer is turned off anything and everything in RAM is lost. Sorry
Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
From: till-ga on 27 Aug 2004 14:44 PDT
As others have stated before: RAM is in the class of volatile storage.
So your question must be answerd by a strict: NO, no chance at all.
Sorry about it.

Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
From: moocowjuice-ga on 27 Aug 2004 15:06 PDT
While what the previos two posts have said is true, they are incorrect
in what they are implying. They are saying that RAM will lose its data
when it no longer has power supplied to it, which is absolutely true.
However, CF, or compact flash, has non-volatile ram in it, meaning it
will retain its information even when not supplied with power.

As long as you didn't overwrite the CF card with new pictures, I'd say
you stand a reasonable chance of recovering data. Don't listen to
these other folks, the fact that there are companies that recover CF
images clearly shows that they're wrong (sorry, but you are).

Searching for "compact flash recovery" in google returns a LOT of
choices, several of which are sponsered ads. One such company is who charges a 140 buck  flat rate. I'd recommend searching
through google with that query and see if somebody at one of those
companies specializing in compact flash recovery can help you out.
Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
From: till-ga on 27 Aug 2004 15:25 PDT
hello moocowjuice-ga,

did you notice the information given in the question about the state
of the CF cards ?
"Don't ask about the CF card:  it is
toast, it is dead, it is history.  Thanks."
so your comment is rather misleading and we were not wrong with our comments.

Subject: Re: Recovering lost data from RAM
From: moocowjuice-ga on 27 Aug 2004 16:38 PDT
I did indeed notice the "it is toast, it is dead, it is history"
comment. But I also know that data recovery people do amazing things
with seemingly dead hard drives. I'm hoping that the compact flash
recovery people can accomplish equally amazing feats.

Saying flat out that the chance to recover data is zero isn't useful
and provides no helpful information to fraha. I figured I'd provide
some hope for him or her to recover the information that is worth
quite a bit of money. Besides, that place doesn't charge
the customer if they can't recover the data, so there isn't any harm
in trying.
Subject: Could you have deleted it???
From: computergeek25-ga on 06 Sep 2004 14:20 PDT
go to the C:\RECYCLER file.
Go to Tools > Folder Options > View
Select show hidden files
look in the folder there should be a combonation of letters + numbers
go to each one of them and look for the pics.
if that doesn't work ???

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