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Unix - Frequently Asked Questions (3/7) [Frequent posting]
Section - How do I "undelete" a file?

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3.6)  How do I "undelete" a file?

      Someday, you are going to accidentally type something like
      "rm * .foo", and find you just deleted "*" instead of "*.foo".
      Consider it a rite of passage.

      Of course, any decent systems administrator should be doing
      regular backups.  Check with your sysadmin to see if a recent
      backup copy of your file is available.  But if it isn't, read
      on.

      For all intents and purposes, when you delete a file with "rm" it
      is gone.  Once you "rm" a file, the system totally forgets which
      blocks scattered around the disk were part of your file.  Even
      worse, the blocks from the file you just deleted are going to be
      the first ones taken and scribbled upon when the system needs
      more disk space.  However, never say never.  It is theoretically
      possible *if* you shut down the system immediately after the "rm"
      to recover portions of the data.  However, you had better have a
      very wizardly type person at hand with hours or days to spare to
      get it all back.

      Your first reaction when you "rm" a file by mistake is why not
      make a shell alias or procedure which changes "rm" to move files
      into a trash bin rather than delete them?  That way you can
      recover them if you make a mistake, and periodically clean out
      your trash bin.  Two points:  first, this is generally accepted
      as a *bad* idea.  You will become dependent upon this behaviour
      of "rm", and you will find yourself someday on a normal system
      where "rm" is really "rm", and you will get yourself in trouble.
      Second, you will eventually find that the hassle of dealing with
      the disk space and time involved in maintaining the trash bin, it
      might be easier just to be a bit more careful with "rm".  For
      starters, you should look up the "-i" option to "rm" in your
      manual.

      If you are still undaunted, then here is a possible simple
      answer.  You can create yourself a "can" command which moves
      files into a trashcan directory. In csh(1) you can place the
      following commands in the ".login" file in your home directory:

        alias can       'mv \!* ~/.trashcan'       # junk file(s) to trashcan
        alias mtcan     'rm -f ~/.trashcan/*'      # irretrievably empty trash
        if ( ! -d ~/.trashcan ) mkdir ~/.trashcan  # ensure trashcan exists

      You might also want to put a:

        rm -f ~/.trashcan/*

      in the ".logout" file in your home directory to automatically
      empty the trash when you log out.  (sh and ksh versions are left
      as an exercise for the reader.)

      MIT's Project Athena has produced a comprehensive
      delete/undelete/expunge/purge package, which can serve as a
      complete replacement for rm which allows file recovery.  This
      package was posted to comp.sources.misc (volume 17, issue
      023-026)

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Top Document: Unix - Frequently Asked Questions (3/7) [Frequent posting]
Previous Document: How do I set the permissions on a symbolic link?
Next Document: How can a process detect if it's running in the background?

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM