Overwritten file data recovery

A lost novel and an overwritten file

We recently had a query from an author about a half-written novel which had been lost from their computer. Their daughter had accidentally edited the file containing the novel, and replaced the entire contents with a school project of almost the same size.

Novel lost due to overwritten file

The writer had already sent the hard disk drive to another data recovery company but they were unable to recover any of the novel from the hard drive. After this the writer contacted us at Cambridge Data Recovery to provide a second opinion.

Locating the missing text

Because the file still existed, but just contained the wrong data (an overwritten file), we had to search the hard drive at a low level to locate text from the missing novel. Within 2-3 days we were able to recover the first 21 chapters of the missing work completely. This was around 85% of the total, and it turned out to be the most important part of the novel because the more recent chapters could more easily be re-written from memory.

This could have seemed like a lost cause as the file had not simply been accidentally deleted, but had actually had its contents replaced. But it was ultimately successful because a copy of most of the data was still present and we have tools to locate this data. We are always happy to have a look at hard drives to see whether the data can be recovered, even if the hard drive has previously been to another data recovery company.


Overwritten files cannot generally be recovered, but in this case parts of the overwritten file were found in other places on the hard drive – this is often the case with Microsoft Word documents, so it is worth attempting recovery even if it seems unlikely to be successful.

Dr Dominic Wilson