Do File Recovery Tools Support Network Drives?

Can I Use a Data Recovery Program to Undelete Files From a Network Drive?

Photo of a Synology DiskStation NAS
Synology DiskStation Network Attached Storage (DS412+). © Synology

Do any of those data recovery software tools recover files that are deleted from network drives?

What about files you delete from online storage services? Does file recovery software work with them?

The following question is one of many you'll see in my File Recovery FAQ:

"What if I've deleted a file from a shared network drive? Will a data recovery program be able to restore that file?"

Unfortunately, no, a data recovery tool will not be able to recover deleted files from a shared drive.

The reasons why this won't work are a bit complicated but it has to do with the fact that the data recovery program doesn't have the level of access to the physical hard drive that it needs to do its job, even though the shared network resource may otherwise look and act like any other drive on your computer.

In other words, your computer's operating system doesn't actually control the drive, some other computer's OS does.

If you do have full access to the computer that the shared drive is actually located on, go there and try to undelete the file with a file recovery program.

Network storage devices, which connect directly to your network and do not need a computer, aren't as easy to find a workaround for. While it might seem strange to think about, there is actually an operating system supporting that drive and any file recovery would have to be initiated from within that drive.

If you want to recover a deleted file from a network storage device, you should log on to the web-based administration for the device and see if there are any integrated file recovery features that might be helpful.

As a last resort, you could try connecting the hard drive inside the network storage device directly to your computer and then run data recovery software against it from there.

Your computer, and thus any data recovery tools you have installed, have even less access to online storage services, meaning they're no use there for sure.

If you need to recover a file you deleted from one of those services, you'll need to log in and see if there's a trash can or recycle bin that may be storing the file.