How to recover deleted files in your Windows 10 PC [tutorial]

All of us has come across a situation wherein we find ourselves suddenly missing an important file or files. Depending on the circumstances, there may or may not be an easy way to recover files. In this post, we share to you some easy tricks to recover deleted Windows 10 files.

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How to recover deleted files in your Windows 10 PC

Below are the 7 tricks that you can do to recover missing or accidentally deleted files. We suggest that you do them in this order to give you the best chances of recovering your data.

Trick #1: Deleted a file? Undo it!

Windows Undo (CTRL + Z) function not only works in basic document or spreadsheet processors like Word or Excel but also in Windows Explorer, the window you open to browse your files. If you’ve accidentally deleted a file in Windows Explorer, you may be able to bring it back to its previous folder by pressing CTRL + Z. Provided you haven’t performed a lot deleting lately, pressing the CTRL + Z once or a few times should recover the deleted file/s.

Trick #2: Stop using your PC

If there’s already a significant period that occurs between the time that you delete the file and your attempt to recover it, using the Undo function may not help. Remember, Windows Undo function only applies to the latest action you’ve performed in a certain program.

In this case, the best thing that you can do is to stop using your computer right away. When a file is deleted, it’s not really burned off the drive right away. It may leave traces or its entirety in the same spot in the hard drive, though the operating system now hides it. In other words, your file may still be recovered. This is especially true for magnetic hard drives as the pointer to your data in a particular spot is simply removed so that spot can be overwritten. Scanning the drive for left over data can be performed later on to restore deleted files.

If you continue to use your computer after you’ve deleted the file, the spot where the file was originally stored may now be written over. To maximize the chance of recovering deleted files, stop whatever you’re doing. Avoid installing or downloading anything during this period. Just turn off your computer. If you’ve performed “write heavy” tasks like streaming, installing, or downloading after you’ve deleted files, there’s very little chance that you can recover anything.

If you have an SSD or solid state drive, you’re out of luck. Data deleted from SSDs are deleted right away to free up space (SSDs have lesser capacity compared to hard disc drives). Once a data is wiped out from an SSD, it’s gone forever so there’s no way you’ll be able to recover anything, unless of course they are still in the Recycle Bin.

Trick #3: Recover files from Recycle Bin

The easiest way to recover deleted data is by opening the Recycle Bin. if you’re lucky, you may see your missing files in there. Large files like really long videos may not be kept in the Recycle Bin so goodluck with that. Files deleted from other sources like external hard drives, USB devices, or other media devices may skip the Recycle Bin as well.

If you got a lot of  items in the Recycle Bin, you can right-click on the window and sort the items by date. This will put the most recently deleted items at the top.

Trick #4: Restore from backup

Another way to recover accidentally deleted file is by restoring from your Windows backup. This will obviously work only if you were using Windows backup in the first place. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Click on Control Panel.
  3. Click System and Maintenance.
  4. Open Backup and Restore.
  5. Click Restore my files, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

Trick #5: Restore from previous versions

If you’re not using Windows backup, you can try to restore your files or folders to its previous versions. Previous versions are automatically created copies of files and folders that your operating system creates as part of a restore point.

To see if your computer has saved a restore point that includes the missing files or folders, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Select Computer.
  3. Navigate to the folder that used to contain the file or folder.
  4. Right-click the folder and then click Restore previous versions. If the folder was at the top level of a drive, for example C:\, right-click the drive, and then click Restore previous versions. After you’ve clicked on Restore previous versions you’ll then see a list of available previous versions of the file or folder. This list will include files saved on a backup if you’re using Windows backup, and restore points.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To restore a previous version of a file or folder that’s included in a library, right-click the file or folder in the location where it’s saved, rather than in the library. For example, to restore a previous version of a picture that’s included in the Pictures library but is stored in the My Pictures folder, right-click the My Pictures folder, and then click Restore previous versions.

  1. Double-click a previous version of the folder that contains the file or folder you want to restore. (For example, if a file was deleted today, choose a version of the folder from yesterday, which should contain the file.)
  2. Drag the file or folder that you want to restore to another location, such as your desktop or another folder.

The version of the file or folder is saved to the location that you selected.

If you want to restore a file or folder to its previous state only, here’s how to do it:

  1. Right-click on the file or folder.
  2. Click Restore previous versions.
  3. Before restoring a previous version of a file or folder, select the previous version, and then click Open to view it to make sure it’s the version you want.
  4. To restore the selected previous version, click it, then click Restore.

Restoring the previous version replaces the current version of the file or folder and can’t be undone.

Trick #6: Use data recovery program

As stated above, data may still be recovered if the hard drive space where they’re stored has not been overwritten yet. In this situation, using a data recovery program may be of help, especially if you can’t find those files in the Recycle Bin.

Try to do a quick Google search for available free file recovery programs out there. If you have a USB storage device, try to download the “portable” version of the said recovery program to it,  and make sure that you let your computer boot from a file-recovery USB drive.

Alternatively, you can remove the hard drive from your computer and place it another, effectively making it as a secondary drive. Then, you can install the file recovery program to the primary drive so you’ll not overwrite the hard drive in question.

Trick #7: Tap professional services

A more expensive option for you, if you don’t want to take the role of an IT guy, is to employ the services of people who does data recovery for a living. Again, make sure to turn off the computer so as to minimize the chances of overwriting the hard drive.

Depending on the situation, data recovery can cost from a couple hundreds of dollars to even thousands of dollars. If you think your missing data is worth the money you’ll be spending go ahead. Just remember, data recovery is never a guaranteed business. If your missing files are beyond recovery, you may end up throwing your money to nothing.


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