I had an important .rtf file I was working on in Wordpad for weeks. Maybe the last time I tried to save it, it got corrupted, and now the file's blank. Checking with a hex editor, every byte is 00.

Except what's weird is that I can use windows search for file contents in the directory the file was in, for words that were in the file, and it shows up as a result for any of them. Even though I never did any of these searches before. There are no previous versions to restore, either.

How is it possible that Windows can do this even though the file itself blank? If I make a duplicate of the file, that one won't show up in the search results, and is blank too. Is this data stored somewhere, or possible to recover?


Windows search probably made an index of the file when it still contained data. Looking at windows' search database might reveal some fragments, but probably not the entire file.

Possibly, if you're lucky, the editing program might have save a new or temporary file somewhere, instead of just overwriting the original file.

If the file still exists you're in luck. If it's been deleted, and if you're very lucky, you haven't overwritten the disk space (now free space after it was deleted) the file used to occupy, so searching all free space might find your old file (or fragments of it). But the more you run Windows, the higher the chance of overwriting the wanted free space.

The best solution is to just use a backup copy of the file (should have one for all important files), but now you have to try searching the drive for deleted .rtf files (or search the entire drive for a specific string you remember)

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