Recover Deleted Files with Foremost

Ever deleted an important file? I haven’t recently done this on Linux, but when I used Windows I had a utility for recovering deleted files. Ubuntu Unleashed reported on some data recovery methods on Ubuntu, so I decided to try one of them out.

Foremost is a command line utility for finding and recovering deleted files based on their type. It was origionally developed for the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

How is this type of data recovery possible? When you delete a file, the data is not really overwritten. The pointer in the filesystem to the file is simply removed so the disk area can be overwritten when necessary. The more the disk is written to after the file is deleted, the larger the chance it will be overwritten and become unrecoverable.

I decided to test out Foremost in a virtual machine. First, I created some JPEG images, deleted them, and emptied the trash. Next, I shutdown the system and booted up the Ubuntu 8.04 Beta live-CD. Live-CDs don’t write to the hard disk, so they work well for data recovery.

The universe repository needs to be enabled, I did this from System->Administration->Software Sources. From the terminal I installed Foremost:

sudo apt-get install foremost

You need to know your target partition’s path to recover from it. I simply started System-Administration->Partition Editor and saw the the home partition is /dev/sda1.

Let’s recover some JPEG images:

sudo foremost -t jpeg -i /dev/sda1

This command causes Foremost to create a directory called output and put every file it can recover in. This could take a while.

Hopefully your images won’t look anything like this (they will if you are too late):
corrupt image

For more details on what file types you can recover, see the manpage for Foremost.

Foremost isn’t the greatest solution; it recovers every file it sees and doesn’t support very many file types. It is possible to add types to the /etc/foremost.conf file, but it doesn’t look an easy task. However, if you’ve lost a bunch of photos or documents, Foremost could be just what you need.

Archived Comments

Michael R. Head

Foremost is great. I’ve used it for a couple things.

1) recovering file from a partially damaged drive:
2) unpacking files in unfriendly archives:

Great tool.


You can recover deleted files and lost from deleted partitions with Get Back Data tools.

Get it from


Thank you so much! I mistakenly deleted a book I was working on and was able to recover it thanks to your how-to. Many kudo’s to you sir!


I have just shift deleted a folder containing some doc files and text files by mistake.They are very important

I have just used this command
foremost -t doc -i /dev/sda1

mohit@gmb-india-ws-3:~$ foremost -t doc -i /dev/sda1
Processing: stdin
I am getting this for the past half an hour,yes folder output is created and its showing audit file and a folder name doc,but they both are empty.Will it take long time?

One more question

how can i recover my text file data?…..i mean the command for that



You probably want to specify an output folder as well, ex… foremost -t doc -i /dev/sda1 -o /home/user/recovery/

When I ran foremost, I ran it under sudo and I had to chown the files back to my login user so I could access them.

Good luck.


Thanks for this info but i want to ask if you know what should I write foremost -t ???? -i /dev/sda1 if I want to recover a .conkyrc file?
I’ve tried foremost -t .conkyrc -i /dev/sda1 but it’s not working :(.


Unbelievable!!! This site doesn’t support unicode standard??? Russian is not displayed properly… Stupid!!!

Vasia, try without “.”

sudo foremost -t conkyrc -i /dev/sda1

You’ll probably need an output directory also -o directory.
Create and mount “directory” before recovery. Good luck!


How do I recover a couple of specific files? I’m looking for a couple of TV shows I deleted called ‘Archer’ if I replace ‘jpeg’ with ‘Archer’ I get nothing. If I use ‘avi’, which is the file extension of a couple of hundred or more deleted movie files, it will recover more files than my total remaining hard disk space!!!!


It work for me I had no, problem using foremost. What I notice is that the first time I used, it I tried, to recover a jpeg. and used, the following line to recover a jpeg……
like this…….sudo foremost -t kickass.jpeg -i /dev/sda1.
but this did not work so, I got an error, telling me to use another directory or just run T. So, I ran it like this

sudo foremost -T jpeg -i /dev/sda1

I did not put the name of the jpeg in the commandline as you can see. Because Foremost uses a default output folder in your, home directory for every file you want to recover.

When I did this I was able to recover all my jpegs from last week. I think foremost is great! But you have to be careful, are you will use up all your memory on your hard drive. Because it will recover tons of data.


how do you specify a file size range to recover like no less than 100k and no more than 5mb?


Photorec is another file recovery tool, which is available for Mac and Windows as well (not just Linux). Just make sure you have enough space to store the recovered files. You may need a second external hard drive if your internal drive can’t handle it. For more details you may please visit: “http:/”


I am new to this and i have tryed using foremost i fill like I am missing a step could you help… this is what i have tried,… trying to rip a SD card
mkdir sd8 (where i want the files to go)
sudo foremost -i /dev/sdf1 -o/sd8 (sdf1 is the SD)
Processing: /dev/sdf1
then nothing in the folder i was just doing a test what am i missing thanks for the help


Got it thanks tho


i am trying to recover a .mov file and they show up after I use foremost but then I cant seem to look at the mov files. they say something like stream unreadable.

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