How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows PC

Most PC users have experienced the accidental loss or deletion of important data on their PCs. But these data are not going anywhere and can be still recovered, using various user-friendly recovery software. Anyone can use such software without the help of a specialist.

Recovering Files Before and After Trash emptying

Recovering deleted data from the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (macOS) requires minimal computer skills. If the Recycle Bin has already been emptied, getting your lost documents will be more difficult. Thus, to simplify the task, many people use special recovery utilities but you can try to recover data without them first. Let’s consider the best 5 methods to recover deleted files on Windows.

Before You Clean the Recycle Bin

Folders sent to the Trash are stored there for a long time, so the lost document should be searched there. If the user has not emptied the Bin, the probability of finding the lost document is almost 100%. To restore a file, you need to:

  • Open the Recycle Bin;
  • Find the desired document and click on it;
  • Click the Restore button (in the upper panel) to restore the selected items.

After that, the lost file will return to its original place. You may also use another method: click the document found in the Recycle Bin and drag it to your desktop.

Shadow Copies

Many users empty the Recycle Bin immediately by deleting files. After that, all documents disappear from this folder but not without a trace. The fact is, Windows 7 backs up all the folders where your document can be stored. To restore a file, you need to do the following steps:

  • Open Explorer and find the folder where your document was previously stored;
  • Right-click on it and select Properties;
  • Switch to the “Previous versions” tab;
  • Select the nearest by date among many shadow copies and search for your loss in it;
  • If the file is not there, go to an earlier copy.

This method will only work if you have not disabled “System Protection” on your computer. Otherwise, you will have to use special utilities.

Using File History

In fact, File History is the same as a shadow copy. It’s just that different experts call this function differently. It’s used in the same way as the previous method, helping to recover not only lost files but also old versions of different documents.

Recovering with programs in Windows XP, 8, 10

The ability to use shadow copies exists only for users of Windows 7. Various utilities were developed for Windows XP, 8, and 10 to recover lost data. They can be downloaded from the Internet and installed on your PC for free. Let’s discuss one of the best and most reliable utilities on the market, i.e. Disk Drill.

For users of computers with Mac OS, the data recovery utility is an excellent choice. It allows you to return all the files that are missing from your hard drive. The recovery process is as easy as with standard Windows programs. The whole process can be divided into three simple steps:

  • Installation of the utility;
  • Search for lost data;
  • Recovery.

Disk Drill is a well-known, fast, and reliable program for recovering deleted files and runs on Windows and Mac platforms. It scans and recovers many file types from virtually any information source: internal and external hard drives, memory cards, USB flash drives, cameras and cameras, iPods, and many other devices. All file systems are supported, including NTFS, FAT, HFS/HFS+, ExFAT, EXT2/EXT3/EXT4. The program algorithms allow you to recover lost partitions, recover damaged or deleted files that were sent to the trash.

In addition to recovering deleted files, Disk Drill is armed with a tool called Recovery Vault. It stores metadata of all files and guarantees successful file recovery.

Disk Drill features:

  • Quick Scan and Deep Scan (collects all parts of lost data together);
  • Backup saves even deleted data from faulty disk;
  • The “Undelete” function recovers files from the media protected by Recovery Vault;
  • Universal Partition Search recovers lost or deleted FAT/NTFS partitions;
  • Scan Management may take some time to restore, stop, or resume the scanning process when you feel comfortable.

Disk Drill is an excellent program for data recovery, not only because of its capabilities but also because of its simple interface, where you cannot get lost.

The utility starts by scanning your drive for deleted files. There are two options:

  • Quick Scan instantly finds files that have been deleted recently;
  • Deep Scan is used if you can’t find the deleted files with Quick Scan;
  • Recovery Vault stores information about the properties of each file and folder that were deleted from your computer. 

Disk Drill’s main functions are always at the user’s fingertips. You can find three versions of the utility on the official website: free (Basic), Pro, and Enterprise. The Basic version of Disk Drill recovers no more than 500 MB of data, while the Pro version has no such limitations.

Let’s review the Pro version of the program and try to recover deleted files from the hard disk partition in the usual way (through the Recycle Bin).

How to Check Disk Drill

  • Run the installation file of the Disk Drill utility and perform the installation;
  • After the installation, the Disk Drill icon will appear on your desktop;
  • Activate the Pro version with the license key. Enter the key and press Activate. Activation should be successful;
  • Disk “E” (can be any other disk) has some files that you will recover during the work with Disk Drill;
  • Delete the files on disk “E”;
  • Clean the Recycle Bin;
  • Launch Disk Drill. You are supposed to see the main window, which shows the hard disk partitions on your computer;
  • Go to the program settings by clicking on the gear icon and selecting Preferences;
  • Check the types of files that the program will search for during scanning for deleted files;
  • Return to disk “E”;
  • Tick the box near the Recover button and select Quick Scan;
  • As you can see, the utility has found our deleted files but some of them have changed their names;
  • Save recovered files to the Restore network folder by connecting it as an “H” disk;
  • Go to disk “H” and create a folder there. Let’s call it 07.09.2020.
  • Click on the folder icon;
  • Select a place to save recovered files (i.e. the folder 07.09.2020)
  • Tick the files you want to recover and click the Recover button.
  • You can see the process of recovering deleted files. Recovery is complete without errors;
  • Going to the folder on 07.09.2020, we see that our files have been successfully recovered (some files have only changed their name).
Buddy Karimi

Buddy is a business journalist with a focus on technology and innovation. With over 10 years of experience reporting on the latest business trends, Buddy has a reputation for being a well-informed, in-depth and analytical journalist. He has a keen understanding of the intersection between technology and business, and is able to explain the impact of emerging technologies on various industries. Buddy has interviewed some of the most influential leaders in the tech industry and has covered major tech events such as CES and SXSW. He is also a regular contributor to business publications and has won several awards for his work.