This article explains how to deal with every Project Manager's worst nightmare - project deliverables not being met due to the unforeseeable loss of vital project data due to an act of God - a power cut, corrupted project files, hardware failure, a virus attack or simply shutting down your PC without saving your project which can mean hours of time dissipating into oblivion. There can be nothing more frustrating or upsetting for team members than weeks or even months of work being wiped away from their hard drive in just a few moments... luckily, a PCs memory is much better than ours so you may be surprised that it can still be recalled even if it is suffering from PC amnesia.

If you are pacing the floor trying to work off some of that anger and frustration, struggling aimlessly to recall how that business proposal went, read on to find a much more simplified way of bringing the past into the present.

It is certainly true that once a file has been deleted, it can no longer be traced on your PC. This is especially so if you shut off a document without ever having saved it. If you did save a document but forget to save it when you added new information, you should be able to retrieve the original version. But in most cases, many files can be completely recovered.

Take a look at the space available on your hard drive. If you lost a lot of data, you will see that your hard drive has added that new space as being available. This is merely an illusion caused by a simple character change in the file table, luckily the data is still sitting on your disc. However, the trick is to un-delete that character before you add anymore data to your pc. If you continue saving, you run the risk of overwriting the hard disc with new data and consequently, your old work will be untraceable. In fact, don't even surf as you will pull up a lot of temporary files which will become written to the disc. If you need to use a PC, switch to another hard drive or use a different one.

There are many free data recovery tools which you can download which will bring your data back into its rightful place. Often data is lost simply by overwriting the wrong file in the saving process. Surprisingly enough, data is more vulnerable if it has been saved over rather than deleted altogether. However, project management software such as Microsoft Project can be set up to automatically save backup copies of the original file.

But what about project data lost from a camera card, phone or USB memory stick? When you delete data from such appliances, you simply wipe away the index entry. This is merely a system which points to where the data can be located. You will find once again, that if you have lost or wiped data, your amount of free spaces will increase, thus allowing you to replace those old files with new. If you are unsure whether your data can be recovered, an economical way to find out is to download a trial version of document recovery software. A quick scan will help you quickly see if your data is still available.

There is also a good chance that your data has not been deleted or overwritten, it could have simply gone astray or been saved under a different name in a different location. You can recover this without downloading any software and carrying out a simple search by pressing the Windows key + F.

Prevention is better than cure
Now you have the benefit of hindsight 20/20; one way to ensure that you never lose any data again is to create a backup copy of every single document that you save.

For backing up a Microsoft Office Word 2007 document, follow these simple instructions:
Click on the Microsoft Office Button.
Next, click on Word Options
Cast your eyes down to the bottom right hand corner and click Advanced
Run through the headings until you come across the Save section
Click on the 'Always create backup Copy' setting

Prevention certainly is better than cure so now that you have a backup of all of your documents, you may be interested in doing the same for your emails. By using a mail client instead of web based mail, you rest in the knowledge that you have automatic email backups. Web mail is unpredictable and carries great risk when trying to retrieve data. For example, if a provider goes down, your emails go with it! Add to this the risk of merrily typing a message only to accidentally press the home key. By doing so, your message will vanish into thin air, never to be retrieved again. One other easy hiccup with web based mail is forgetting to copy and paste before sending. Some providers offer very limited time to compose messages. If we forget to copy and paste, we can expect to see that dreaded 'timed out' phrase appearing... and we all know what that means.

Many Project Managers make use of instant messenger software for task collaboration. However, if you do not have this set up correctly, you can lose the communication trail simply by exiting the application. To solve this, carry out the following precautions:

Open Windows Live Messenger and click the 'Show menu' button on the top, right-hand side of the program then click 'Tools' followed by 'Options'.

Click 'Messages' on the left of the resulting pop up window

On the bottom right, check the tick box that asks if you want to automatically keep track of messenger conversations to record the communication trail.

Time and money is precious so why take a risk and hold up a project by going five steps backwards and one step forward. With these easy to follow tips, both man and technology can work with confidence, safe in the knowledge that data which could be a valuable lifeline to your project completion is restorable at the simple click of a mouse.