It’s common to accidentally delete an important file and then end up hitting your face with your palm. Whether you have erased an important file while you were in the delete-all-the-junk-files spree, or you had to format your hard drive completely, it may also not be the end of the world.
Yeah, there is still a chance that you can be able to recover your lost data if you use the proper tools and follow the right steps.
You can opt for a third-party data recovery tool or even a data recovery service to retrieve your deleted data. So in this article, we will be showing you how you can recover your lost or deleted files in Windows 10 using two separate methods.
Note that the instructions mentioned below work in all the versions of Windows not necessarily Windows 10, so you may use them even if you have different versions of Windows.
Why is the Data Recoverable?
You must have thought that all of your data gets deleted as soon as you delete it, in reality, yes the data is marked ‘deleted’ and makes the OS (operating system) think it is not there anymore.
The data is still valid on the hard drive, but it gets overridden every second as you add more data. If it is it overwritten, a recovery tool can go the extra mile to extract this data and allow you to recover it.
You might also be wondering, does this occur to all of your private data as well? Honestly, yes, that is why you should use a file shredder software to delete private data permanently from your computer.
Find the Deleted File
Before we proceed towards “recovering” any data, it is better to make sure that the data is deleted and there are no backups of it anywhere in the system.
The recovery process is harder and riskier, so it would be better if we could get the file by any other means. Below we’ve made a list of some familiar places where your files might be lurking around.
Check the Recycle bin: It’s a little obvious to you, but some less tech-savvy people still have no idea about the Recycle bin.
When you erase a file from your PC (personal computer), it goes directly into the Recycle bin first instead of getting completely erased from the computer memory.
The Recycle bin ought to be on the Windows 10 desktop, open the Recycle bin and look for your file there. If you find it then right click on it and select “Restore” from the options to restore the file to its original location.
- Check for Backups: If you use Windows inbuilt backup feature or third-party backup software, then check the ‘external backup drive’ and see if you could find any of your essential file there.
- Check Cloud Storage: And if your file was stored in a cloud storage folder like Google Drive or One Drive, then there’s also a good chance it’s still available in the “Trash” folder. Because most cloud storage services keep your deleted file safe for up to 60 days, so you should act fast and check the folder for your file.
- Search for it: There is a chance that you might have misplaced the file or another user on your PC moved it somewhere else. If that is the case, enter the exact name of the file in the “Search bar”, and Windows 10 will do the rest by showing it to you.
Recover the Deleted File
With those steps taken and you still haven’t been able to locate the file, it’s obvious you have deleted the file for good, and there is no backup anywhere to recover from.
Well then let’s start retrieving your important data using a data recovery tool. For this purpose only, Recuva is a perfect tool that is very simple and powerful.
It has both a free and paid version, but the paid version only offers automatic updates and premium customer support, virtual hard drive support.
There is no restriction on the features of the free version, so we are good, so it is wise to use the free version and recover data (unless you need to retrieve data from a virtual hard drive).
Recuva can be used in two separate ways to retrieve data, a quicker way and a safer way.
Things You Should Know Before Recovering Data
Below are something’s to keep in mind while recovering data:
- You can only retrieve data from a magnetic hard drive, SSDs completely delete the data and recovery software will never work on them.
- Try not to include additional data to your hard drive to ensure your important file does not get overwritten.
- Recovery software can also recover an overwritten file, so there is still a chance that you may be able to retrieve some parts of the file.
Method 1: Safer Method
If the file that you want to recover is vital and you don’t want to take any chances, then please shut down your PC right now and read this post from another device. Reason being that, the more you use your PC, the more data is being written on the hard disk.
Even while surfing the net you are adding data to the hard drive, such as temporary files, local cache, and downloads etc. the data is then written randomly so even if a single portion of your file gets s overwritten, it may corrupt the file.
It will be very risky if you decide to download the recovery software Recuva directly on the computer hard drive containing your important file, it may overwrite the file’s data.
So this is where you can download Recuva’s portable version on an external drive and use it for the recovery process.
You can download Recuva Portable version on another PC and move it to the external drive, like a USB flash drive or an external HDD (but first you will have to extract it).
Now go ahead and connect the external drive to the PC (personal computer) containing your important file, and launch the recovery software (Recuva portable version) from the external drive.
The Recuva wizard will start, and it will guide you through the whole recovery process and make it easier to recover data, click on next to start the recovery process.
On the first page like in the picture above, you will have to select the file type. To make it easier and faster for the tool to find your file, it is best to opt for the file type category where your file belongs.
Else, you can also select “All Files” here to search for all the files (this is good if the types of deleted files are more than one).
Once you have selected the file type, you will then be ready to choose the exact location from where you deleted the file. You can select the Recycle bin, Documents, Drives and even secondary drives.
If you are not positive about the exact location where you last saw the file, select “I’m not sure” and click on “Next” to proceed to the next phase.
On the next page, there is an option to “Enable Deep Scan” and start the scan. It is recommended that you use only “Deep Scan” in case the quick scan is unable to recover the deleted file.
Deep scan takes a lot of time (sometimes hours), so it is better to give a quick scan a try first (and please make sure your computer has enough power to go through the Deep Scan because we don’t want a situation where the computer will turn off while the recovery process is still on.), so it’s better to give a quick scan a try first. Without enabling the deep scan, click on “Start”, and Recuva will proceed to scan.
For the quick scan, it will take just a few seconds to complete, and you will see all the recovered files in the Recuva interface. You will see a circle next to each recovered file indicating whether they can be recovered or not.
- Green Circle: This means the file is completely recoverable and no data was overwritten.
- Orange Circle: this means some of the data has been overwritten but the file may still be recovered and might work fine as well.
- Red Circle: This means most of the data has been overwritten and it is doubtful that you’ll be able to retrieve the file or be able to use it after recovery.
You can go ahead and check the checkbox next to the files you want to recover and click “Recover” button below to attempt to recover them. If you want more options, you can click on ‘Switch to advanced mode’ button.
In the Advanced mode, you can also search for the file with the name and also rescan different locations with full control. You may also change the basic settings by clicking on “Options” on the top right corner.
If the quick scan does not show up your deleted file, repeat the process and select “Enable Deep Scan” this time. It will take a lot of time for sure as I mentioned earlier, but it will surely show up your deleted file (even if it is unable to recover it).
Method 2: Quick Method (but May Overwrite Your Important Data)
If you are not in a mood of going through the long process mentioned in the above method, then you may also directly download Recuva and start the recovery process. In the process, you will be surfing the web, downloading Recuva and then install it.
If the data from any of these steps overwrite the important file, it might corrupt it. But the chances are meager as well, and if you recently deleted the file, it will most definitely not get overwritten by any data. I’ve even managed to recover data as old as two years, so there’s a good chance that you will not have any problem but bear in mind that there’s risk involved.
Just download the Regular Recuva setup file and install it on your computer. Launch the Recuva tool, and the rest of the steps are the same as mentioned in the first method.
Tip: If by chance you are unable to recover your file with the above procedure then you can also get help from a data recovery service professional, like DriveSavers. Though they might be costly in most cases, they can recover a file even if it’s completely overwritten.
For now, Recuva tool may have saved your data and given you another chance to use your file. Recovering data is based on luck, and if any of the new data overwrites your file, it may become corrupted.
So it’s best you always have a backup of all your important files, so you don’t have to depend on a recovery tool. You can use the Windows built-in backup solution or try the plethora of third-party backup solutions to protect your important files.
Let us know if you were unable to recover your data using Recuva. If you did, please share your story with us in the comments section.