FOREMOST -- Recover Permanently Deleted Files Easily in Kali Linux

In this detailed tutorial we are going to learn digital forensic using our Kali Linux machine. Today we are going to recover permanently deleted or lost files using foremost forensic tool even it can recover files from formatted media drives.

Foremost is a forensic tool that can recover lost files based on their headers, footers and internal data structures. Foremost can recover data from flash drives like hard disks, pen drives, memory cards etc.
It can recover images files, video files, exe files, pdf files, office files, etc, even it can also recover those files which can generated by application like dd, Encase, safeback. This tool is very effective for forensic use like recover any data from criminal's pen drive.

foremost kali linux


Foremost is a command line tool, it previously comes pre-loaded with Kali Linux. But now we have to install it by applying following command:

sudo apt-get install foremost
Now we check the help of foremost tool by using following command:

foremost -h
The screenshot of the command is following:

Foremost Kali Linux

Using those options we can easily recover important files from our data storage.

Let we connect our pen drive in our system. There are some files in our USB drive.

delete files


There are 3 image files, a video file and a pdf file. Now we delete those files from our drive.

Then we come on on trash folder and remove those files from trash folder also.

empty the trash folder

Now those files are permanently deleted, or we can use Shift+Delete key to delete them permanently.

Okey, now it's time to recover our permanently deleted data. To recover our permanently deleted data from pen drive we need to know our pen drive's disk path by opening terminal window and applying following command:

fdisk -l
The screenshot of the command is following:

disk partations

Here we can see our pen drive's location is /dev/sdb and the main partition of our pen drive is /dev/sdb1. This /dev/sdb1 is the memory storage partition. We can copy this path(/dev/sdb1) or just remember this.

Now we run the recovery process by entering following command:

foremost -t jpg,pdf,mp4 -v -q -i /dev/sdb1 -o /root/Desktop/recovered
The screenshot of this command is following:
foremost in kali linux

In this above command we use -t flag to specify file types if we did not use this, foremost will recover all known file types, and we choose -v for verbose mode,this mode will display all the process in screen. We choose the -q for quick mode, -i is for input devices in our case our input device is our pen drive and the path is /dev/sdb1 . We have also chosen -o, -o is to set the output directory. That means where we want to keep our recovered files. Here we choose recovered folder in our Desktop.

This process will take time because it will analyze the entire disk, small size disks can recovered very quickly. It also take time if we are recovering many data or we are not in quick mode.

If the deleted files are overwrite by other files then we may get trouble to recover, those deleted files and may we got corrupted files. Now we check our recovered folder in Desktop.
Here we have successfully recovered our deleted data in our pen drive.

recovered data by foremost


Not in only digital forensic we can use this free tool to recover data for our personal uses, like we can recover data from our camera memory card or any other flash drives. We will got many paid tools for this job but when we have a very powerful free tool then why we pay for recovery tools. So we have learned how to use foremost in Kali Linux and recover permanently deleted data. Was this tutorial helpful? For any questions or problem fell free to ask, we always happy to help you. Let comment how much you liked this tutorial?
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Comments

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  • Sathish photo
    SathishDecember 2, 2019 at 12:28 PM

    Can it possible to recover from phone memory?

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    • Kali Linux photo
      Kali LinuxDecember 3, 2019 at 7:38 AM

      same process as showed in the place of pen-drive connect your phone with a USB and turn on data transfer. Same process

      Delete Comment
    • AnonymousMarch 26, 2020 at 9:24 PM

      For me it finds a lot of files, jpg, mp4 etc. But they are all 0 bytes and useless.
      I tried it with two different disks. Any suggestions?

      Delete Comment
      • Kali Linux photo
        Kali LinuxMarch 27, 2020 at 12:33 AM

        have you enough space in your PC. This happens that time and we have corrupted or overwritten files.

        Delete Comment
        • AnonymousDecember 23, 2020 at 6:31 PM

          I am also getting files with 0 bytes. In the output it shows how big they are supposed to be (a few megabytes each) and I definitely have more than enough space. But the "recovered" files are 0 bytes and all they have is their original name, nothing more (eg. "date modified" and "date created" tags are also missing).

          So if I understand correctly, those files are corrupt and/or overwritten so they are not recoverable using this tool? Is there another tool that I could look at?

          Also thank you for the guide, it is very nice

          Delete Comment
          • Kali Linux photo
            Kali LinuxDecember 24, 2020 at 8:23 AM

            Scalpel can perform better than Foremost. We are working on a article about Scalpel. Will released soon. Stay Tuned.

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          • Unknown photo
            UnknownMay 12, 2020 at 4:12 AM

            Fdisk -i command not showing my phone path. I'm using kali linux by vm box. Please help

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          • Unknown photo
            UnknownMay 12, 2020 at 4:13 AM

            Fdisk -i command not showing my phone path. I'm using kali linux by vm box. Please help

            Delete Comment
            • Unknown photo
              UnknownSeptember 25, 2020 at 11:22 PM

              First give permission,
              Type sudo -s
              Then type your root password.
              After enter the command fdisk -l
              It will show the path.

              Delete Comment
            • AnonymousMay 24, 2020 at 5:18 AM

              i have deleted some root file system and i cant run terminal as root what i can do ? please answer

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            • Unknown photo
              UnknownJune 11, 2020 at 11:59 PM

              Recovery is finished with many files but in the output folder it is showing empty

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              • Kali Linux photo
                Kali LinuxJune 12, 2020 at 12:47 AM

                Are you using Virtual Machines?

                Delete Comment
                • AnonymousNovember 13, 2020 at 7:11 AM

                  if you have files in folder (you can see if you have files in folder with $ ls -la). Then if you are in the folder, leave where the folder is. then write in terminal:
                  $ chown -R user:user folder_name/
                  and you will have access to the files. I had the same issue, using sudo foremost will write all files as root.

                  Delete Comment
                • Sajid Alamgir photo
                  Sajid AlamgirJune 22, 2020 at 5:04 PM

                  I need to export the output to External Drive without actually moving to the place where the OS is installed? Is there a way?

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                  • Kali Linux photo
                    Kali LinuxJune 22, 2020 at 6:02 PM

                    The question is not clear to us ? Do you want recovered data on external drive ? Use the -o flag with the location of external hard drive.

                    Delete Comment
                  • Unknown photo
                    UnknownJuly 31, 2020 at 11:44 AM

                    Tell me how to connect my mobile in that usb place...tell me the example path..

                    Delete Comment
                    • Unknown photo
                      UnknownJuly 31, 2020 at 11:48 AM

                      fdisk -l not showing my phone path

                      Delete Comment
                      • Kali Linux photo
                        Kali LinuxJuly 31, 2020 at 3:40 PM

                        did you turned your mobile's usb data transfer ? Is it showing as a drive in file manager ?

                        Delete Comment
                      • Unknown photo
                        UnknownSeptember 17, 2020 at 10:54 PM

                        i ran this successfully but the "recovered" file never showed up on my desktop? every command entry was correct, but it never created the file.

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                        • Kali Linux photo
                          Kali LinuxSeptember 17, 2020 at 11:20 PM

                          foremost -t jpg,pdf,mp4 -v -q -i /dev/sdb1 -o /root/Desktop/recovered
                          in this command /root/Desktop will not work because root user is disabled in Kali Linux newer versions try with /home/youruser/Desktop location.

                          Delete Comment
                          • Unknown photo
                            UnknownSeptember 18, 2020 at 12:02 AM

                            thanks, that did create the folder on my desktop but it is saying i don't have access to view the files...sorry; new to this

                            Delete Comment
                          • AnonymousNovember 16, 2020 at 6:50 PM

                            fdisk -l not showing my phone path too, usb data transfer is turned on, it is showing as a drive in file manager, but it does not appear when i type fdisk -l as root. please help

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                            • Black Truth photo
                              Black TruthFebruary 6, 2021 at 7:30 AM

                              can i recover some data from my own laptop by using this method ? or it only work in external devices?

                              Delete Comment
                              • Kali Linux photo
                                Kali LinuxFebruary 6, 2021 at 8:43 AM

                                Yes but where do you thinking to save the output? The output also become very large if you want to recover your entire laptop storage. But in the case of large recovery we suggest to use scapel. Thanks

                                Delete Comment
                              • Lucky photo
                                LuckyMarch 10, 2021 at 1:34 PM

                                Hey during windows installation, mbr to gpt conversion was required and i accidentally did that and lost all data, now can i recover the data from it using kali linux live os, as if i install windows in that disk data may overwrite, so will the live os works in data recovery?

                                Delete Comment
                                • Kali Linux photo
                                  Kali LinuxMarch 10, 2021 at 8:11 PM

                                  We can recover it easily by using Kali Linux. But for safety we suggest you to create a copy of the entire disk by using guymager. Then try to recover data from that disk image. You can use Kali Linux live to create the image file. Read the guymager article carefully. Thanks

                                  Delete Comment
                                • James XeroraAugust 24, 2021 at 11:28 PM

                                  Brother Very Detailed and Very helpful Article/Tutorial. We can't find this type of detailed guide in other Websites easily. And I have one advice for you, you should correct the last sentence of this article (will this tutorial was helpful) to Was this Tutorial helpful?

                                  Delete Comment
                                  • Kali Linux photo
                                    Kali LinuxAugust 25, 2021 at 12:59 AM

                                    Hello James,

                                    We always get motivation from reader like you. Thanks a lot for the correction. Thanks a lot again.

                                    Delete Comment
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