Your family is ready for dinner as you race to finish a blog entry, typing like mad as thoughts flow to a witty conclusion after several hours of writing and research.
Suddenly, the wrong combination of keys sends your browser back to the "Write an Entry" page ... you click the "Stop" button but it's too late. The "Forward" button reveals nothing but a blank white text box.
You want to scream, but instead, you take it out on the roast beef and mashed potatoes. Burdened with the need to rewrite an entire article, and absolutely unmotivated to do so, you slink back to the computer, take a deep breath, and start again.
Writing for the web can give you a surprise at any turn. Hours of effort can be lost in an instant. However, with data recovery software, you can make your computer temporarily recall everything that you have typed in web forms. Although 99% of the time you won't need it, this software can make tomorrow's pre-dinner writing time completely stress-free.
Text Data Recovery Software Can Restore Lost Text
With a few moments of setup work, you can prevent the surprise of losing information you have typed into web forms, including blog entries, articles, and survey answers.
The data recovery software discussed in this article is Lazarus, a free extension for the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser.
Firefox is worth trying, for the chance to use Lazarus and for many other reasons; to try Firefox, get it here. If you already have Firefox, and want Lazarus, go to the Lazarus download page and then follow the instructions in the slideshow below to install it on your computer. Or if you want more information before deciding, please keep reading.
Lazarus is available for the Google Chrome browser as well. The Chrome version is less powerful, but can at least save and restore text typed into large fields like blog and forum posts.
Installing the Lazarus Text Recovery Software
How Does Lazarus Recover Lost Text That I Typed Online?
The Lazarus browser extension maintains a database of the text that you type in web forms, the options that you select from dropdown menus, and the choices you make for checkboxes and other web form elements. It then allows you to restore any field, or even the entire form, to a previous state.
The next time your web browser loses all the information you just typed into a form, you can simply go back to the empty form, right-click on it somewhere, and Lazarus will give you the option to restore everything! It even works with revisions, so if you submit a change to your article but accidentally delete part of it, you can restore the older version, copy the missing section, and add it to the new revision.
What About Confidential Information in Forms?
With the exception of passwords, Lazarus will store confidential information, and that information could be accessed by other people who use your computer. If this does not raise concerns for you, perhaps it should.
Fortunately, Lazarus offers a variety of security features that allow you to secure the data that you type online.
Saved data expires
Since the restore feature is meant to only be used immediately after you realize that form data has been lost, the information is automatically removed after 24 hours. In the instructions below, you will see an option to increase or decrease this time period. If many people use your computer it may be best to reduce the time period to one hour.
You can also manually delete the information stored by Lazarus, either by deleting the entire database, or by deleting select entries. For more information, go to the slideshow below, "Seeing Lazarus Data in More Detail."
Saved data is encrypted
The information that you type into forms is stored in a database on your computer, but not as-is, in plain text. It is modified first into an encrypted form that cannot be read by a human unless it is properly decrypted. This provides a level of security that will prevent the Lazarus database from showing up in text searches on your computer.
Saved data can be password-protected
The simplest way to ensure that other users of your computer do not restore forms that may be considered confidential is to require a password for retrieving data. No password is needed to save form information, so the holder of the password will be able to view form history from all computer users (unless the users have separate user accounts on the computer).
The following screenshots will guide you through the simple password protection process.
saved data does not include passwords themselves (except by request)
Due to obvious security risks, Lazarus does not save data from any password fields by default. If you choose to allow Lazarus to save passwords, the passwords will be available in plain text for anyone who is able to view your Lazarus data.
A safer way to save passwords is by using the "Save Password" feature integrated into your web browser. Follow the instructions in the slideshow below to learn how to use the Firefox "Save Password" feature.
Limitations of Form Recovery Software
If you decide to use Lazarus, be aware of the following limitations which might affect you or others who use your computer.
- Lazarus supports only one password per user account; if there are multiple users, all of their information will be visible to the password holder (unless they have set up separate user accounts on the computer).
- Lazarus runs unobtrusively, which makes it easy to forget about the stored data, and cumbersome to clear it.
- Lazarus, unfortunately, will not restore data that you lost before installing it. If you are reading this article because you just lost a blog entry, Lazarus will not help you today, though it may save you tomorrow!
- Lazarus will only store data submitted in forms within Firefox, and will not restore some heavily customized forms, such as those on Adobe Flash-based web sites.
Seeing Lazarus Data in More Detail
Occasionally, Lazarus is unable to restore text for particular forms. If this happens to you, just follow a few simple steps to see all of the stored Lazarus data, then copy and paste the text back into the form.
Alternative Methods to Avoid Losing Data
The most common technique to avoid losing a blog entry, forum post, or other online text is to write the text in word processing software, such as Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word is a good choice because it will also automatically save your document in case the computer shuts down unexpectedly.
However, Microsoft Word will apply subtle edits to your text, such as converting straight quote marks to "curly quotes." Because special characters often require special handling by web forms, pasting from Word may cause curly quotes or other special characters in your article to appear as garbage characters (for example, "You Wonâ€™t Believe It!"). This can greatly affect the readability of your article and should be considered before pasting text from a word processor.
Some people choose to use a plain text editor instead, since it will not change what you type, but text editors generally do not include spell checking and auto-saving. Fortunately, you can also learn how to turn off the autocorrection features in Microsoft Word to prevent the introduction of special characters.
Jess on June 27, 2019:
Typing a long comment on a website. Accidentally presses laptop trackpad and the comment is lost. Tries Ctrl-Z to undo and nothing. Searches for ways to recover comment. Comes to site that tells you to download a program that works with an entirely different browser in order to say FUTURE comments. Gee thanks.
Jasmine Maes on December 11, 2018:
Okay, so I can admit when I was wrong. I tried adjusting the sensitivity of my laptop mouse in hopes that body heat was activating the deletion of text. For me that was not the case. Onto Firefox and Lazarus, for me. I liked my browser just fine, I like the layout and look; however, I'm tired of losing what I write. For me it almost always comes out best the first go around.
Jasmine Maes on November 28, 2018:
I've been having a similar problem of late. Huge portions of text are highlighted by computer not me and then deleted! Quite annoying as I've lost quite a few pieces I've written or at least valuable parts of it. I thought this was just happening on one site. Tonight I found out otherwise. While I might check out Firefox/Lazarus I think I may have figured out the issue. Go to settings, ease of access for touchpad and turn it off, also turn down the sensitivity on touchpad as it is likely being effected by your body heat as you type. This won't recover what you already lost; however, it may prevent it in the future.
Sam on August 31, 2018:
Why is this still a relevant article? Everyone wants to recover text lost in the past.
Elwanda Mckean on October 10, 2017:
Creative discussion . I was fascinated by the points . Does anyone know where my company could get access to a sample Consent for Minor Children to Travel document to work with ?
Tocaraca on September 08, 2016:
WELL THIS IS HELPFUL NOW ISN'T IT. NO. I WANTED TO RECOVER SOME TEXT I JUST LOST, NOT FUTURE TEXT I MIGHT LOSE.
Why doesn't Chrome cache the text?!?!
Raffy from United Kingdom on June 11, 2014:
Maybe I will try this.
bebe on March 07, 2014:
"Occasionally, Lazarus is unable to restore text for particular forms. If this happens to you, just follow a few simple steps to see all of the stored Lazarus data, then copy and paste the text back into the form."
For some reason or another when i restarted my computer...only the older texts were showing up...and i can't seem to find it on the stored lazarus data either even though i checked to see if it saved before i shut if off
gajanis from Pakistan on January 03, 2014:
Derek Stewart Macpherson on November 13, 2013:
Like most of those who have commented here, this would have been great for me if I'd known about it a few hours ago. But that's no good to me now, is it? How do I recover the lengthy comment I lost tonight? There must be a way. It HAS to still exist in my computer's temporary memory. If I was a suspected terrorist or something, the security services could recover it, so how do they do it then, and how can I recover MY OWN text? Sorry, but I'm having trouble moving past this. I REFUSE to write the thing again, and I refuse to accept that it's lost. There HAS to be a way to recover it.
pitzele from Pennsylvania on December 02, 2012:
Thank you!! I just wish that there were something compatible with IE9.
jcaiken on June 18, 2012:
Lazarus is not available for IE -based browsers. However, an add-in called IE Pro was able to provide a similar capability for IE7 and IE8. However, it appears to be no longer supported and will not work with IE9.
fritteritter (author) from Ohio, USA on January 30, 2012:
Unfortunately the software discussed in this article is not capable of restoring lost data after-the-fact, it can only restore text typed after it is installed.
tammy on January 30, 2012:
i used firefox to send my online teacher my papers now after a month she said she has not received any of them! Will this help me recover them? Firefox may have deleted them on my noodle account at my college?
Nightlife on January 21, 2012:
Of course we'll all coming here after a VERY frustrating loss of text.... GRR ! I hat it when I spend almost an hour typing completely spontaneously, and then lose all of it. All the witty remarks and cool phrasing, gone. And of what you do remember, you don't want to write it again, because it's not clever if it's not spontaneous, is it? Dang flabbit Dean !!!!
The Nerdy Nurse on June 08, 2011:
Sure wish I would have had this last night!
Great tool. Seems there are some issues with google Chrome and WYSIWYG editors. Hope they resolve this soon, I really don't like firefox.
revybaby from On the Road on March 18, 2011:
I wonder if it would have helped me recover my NCAA Bracket last night!
Data Recovery Delhi on December 28, 2010:
Its a good tools when your are submitting the information online . Problem Becomes big when you have type a full mail and some thing goes wrong and you just want to cry as you have to type all again . This is best tool for that . Thanks Admin for sharing a good information .
fritteritter (author) from Ohio, USA on October 12, 2010:
Heh, thanks for the enthusiasm! That's roughly how I felt when I first found the Lazarus Form Recovery plugin :D
Terry on October 12, 2010:
IF I ONLY FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS SOONER.. darn it!!!
I installed it and IT WORKS GREAT!XD
If I had this sooner... I wouldn't have to retype that 12 paragraph(A LOOOOOOOONG PARAGRAPH) essay thing all over again.
IM SO HAPPY I HAVE IT NOW JKBASFJKABKBFJKA
(please excuse the jbjkajbbgk-ing)
And Drewson from United States on October 06, 2010:
Great info here! I like that you can protect the retrieval via a password.
save my system from United Kingdom - London on September 25, 2010:
Oh, I don't know that we can save our text with data recovery software. Thanks for sharing this with us. Screen shot make it much easy to understand and to it apply real time.
karpouzian from Iowa on August 08, 2009:
I could have used this last night! Great Hub! :)