If you accidentally delete a file, all hope isnâ€™t lost. However, assuming you canâ€™t just drag it back out of the Windows Recycle Bin â€” especially true if you, like me, tend to default to the more permanentÂ Shift + Delete instead of just â€œdeleteâ€ â€” youâ€™re going to have to roll up your sleeves and try a slightly more complicated technique.
File-restoration apps have download from the Microsoft Store right now.
Before you pull it up and get recovering, letâ€™s take about the basics. The very best thing you can do to ensure a more successful file recovery is to use an app like this one the moment you accidentally delete something. Donâ€™t power down or restart your computer. Donâ€™t say, â€œeh, Iâ€™ll do it tomorrow.â€ The more time that elapses after the accidental deletion â€” days, weeks, months â€” the less likely youâ€™ll be able to recover the data, assuming youâ€™ve been using said system (and its HDD or SSD) in the meantime. File-recovery tools can save the day, but their powers arenâ€™t infinite.
With that out of the way: Launching Windows File Recovery doesnâ€™t pull up the pretty-GUI app you might be expecting. Instead, you get a Command Prompt:
There are a lot of options you can type in for the various switches. But, if you just care about the basics, then something like this:
winfr C: E: /n UsersDocumentsQuarterlyStatement.docx
would restore a specific file from your C: drive (the QuarterlyStatement.docx) to your E: drive. Yes, the source and destination drives have to be different for the file recovery to work, so youâ€™ll want to plug in a USB drive to perform the recovery if your system doesnâ€™t already have two separate drives.
Similarly, you can also attempt to recover the entire contents of a folder:
winfr C: E: /n UsersDocuments
Using that command would allow you to recover your entire Documents folder on the C: drive to your E: drive.
Now, youâ€™ve probably noticed that there are actually three different file-recovery modes built into Microsoftâ€™s tool: Default, Segment and Signature. There are a few reasons why you might want to use one over the other, depending on your file-recovery scenario. For example, if youâ€™re using a non-NTFS file system (such as FAT or exFAT), youâ€™ll only be able to use Signature mode.
As Microsoft spells out:
I havenâ€™t tried Microsoftâ€™s tool to recover anything yet â€” and I havenâ€™t suffered any horrific accidental deletions recently â€” but Iâ€™d recommend going with Microsoftâ€™s recommended order on this one. Signature mode, as I understand it, could take a considerable amount of time to run, depending on the size of your disk. Start with an easier mode so you arenâ€™t wasting time, then turn to the more thorough scans if the â€œundeletionâ€ doesnâ€™t turn up what you hoped it would.