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4 Ways to Recover Deleted Files in Windows

You may have deleted (or not deleted) files from your Windows PC at one time or another and wondered if you can get them back from the Recycle Bin. The good news is that you can do this without a lot of fuss.

Windows automatically puts files from folders or external devices into the Recycle Bin when you delete them, so you can easily restore them with just a few clicks. However, if you permanently delete a file, you will not be able to recover it through the Recycle Bin. Fortunately, there are other advanced ways to recover your files, as we will see below.

NoticeableThe methods included in this article are compatible with Windows 10/11.

1. From the Recycle Bin

This is the easiest way to recover any deleted files. When you delete a file, it doesn’t actually go away. The Recycle Bin just marks the file as no longer needed and removes it from normal view. If you decide later that you want to restore the file, you can easily restore it.

  1. Click on the desktop icon labeled Recycle Bin.
  2. Find the file you want to restore and then right-click on it.
  3. You will get the option to “restore” the file to its original folder.
Recycle Bin Recovery
  1. Alternatively, double-click on the file, and it will open in its original location or you can drag the file to the desired folder.
  2. For example, if you delete a file from the Pictures folder, you can open it and drag the file from the Recycle Bin back into that folder to restore it. If you drag a file from the Recycle Bin to a folder that contains another file with the same name, you will be asked if you want to overwrite that file.
  3. If you are restoring a large number of files, the above method can be tedious. Alternatively, you can select files while holding down a file control key and then click Restore All Items. In Windows 11, the Recycle Bin has a convenient “Restore All Files” button that does not require you to select files beforehand.
Recycle Bin Restore selected items

2. Restore previous file versions

When you delete or move a file or folder, Windows keeps the old version of the file and stores it in the Recycle Bin. These previous versions appear in the File History window and you can use them to recover old files or even restore your entire drive to its previous state.

Understanding how to restore previous versions of files from the Recycle Bin can help you recover files if you’ve deleted them by mistake. You can also use this method to repair a damaged file or to view the contents of a file several days ago.

  1. To restore previous file versions, open File Explorer and locate the original folder of the deleted files.
  2. Right-click on the folder and select Restore Previous Versions.
Recycle Bin Restore previous file versions
  1. In Windows 11, once you right-click on the folder, you’ll need to select Show more options to be able to access the menu where Restore Previous Versions is available.

These two methods are the simplest ways to recover files in Windows. For more advanced troubleshooting, we will need to use Command Prompt and Windows File Recovery as well, as shown.

3. With Command Prompt

You can actually do some pretty cool things from the Command Prompt, and recovering deleted files is one of them, even if you’ve permanently deleted them from the Recycle Bin on your Windows PC.

  1. On your computer, click on the search bar at the bottom.
  2. Type “Command Prompt,” and click on the “Run as administrator” option.
Recycle Bin Open Command Prompt
  1. Once the Command Prompt window opens, type the following command and hit Enters. Don’t forget to change the Drive Letter to your drive where you want to recover deleted files.
Recycle Bin Check Disk 1
  1. Now, type “Y” until the command lines open again.
  2. After that, enter the following command. Replace the “drive letter” with your own drive.
Recycle Bin Command Prompt to Recover Files
  1. The above commands will perform a comprehensive search by searching for read-only files, multiple files, hidden files, and subfolders.
  2. Once the commands are executed, you can go back to your drive where a new folder will be created automatically. In this folder you can find all recovered files. However, the files will all be in a new .chk format. You will have to set the file format and save it to the folder you want before opening it.
Recycle Bin Folder Recovered Files
  1. Alternatively, you can also use Command Prompt to open the Recycle Bin and recover deleted files.
  2. Just click on Wins + s keys and type the following command and press Enters:
Recycle Bin Command Prompt
  1. The Recycle Bin folder will open and you can follow the steps in Solution 1 to recover the files.

Windows File Recovery is a data recovery app. You can use it to recover files that cannot be recovered from your Recycle Bin. It is a command line application that can recover files from a variety of sources including internal storage, external storage, and memory cards. Here’s how to use it on Windows 10/11.

  1. You’ll need to download the app from the Microsoft Store if you don’t have it on your computer.
  2. Once the application is installed, you can use PowerShell or Command Prompt in administrator mode. Although PowerShell and Command Prompt can perform similar functions, PowerShell is a more advanced version of the Command Prompt.
  1. Start by pressing Wins + X.
  2. Select “Windows PowerShell (Administrator)” or “Command Prompt (Administrator).” Enter the following command. Remember to replace “X” with the drive you want to recover the deleted files.
Powershell Recycle Bin command
  1. In Windows 11, simply use the search button and search for Windows PowerShell to launch the application.
  1. Anyway, to recover a more specific file, enter the following command.
  1. Instead of recovering all deleted files, the command allows you to restore files from a specific folder. Remember to replace “source drive” and “destination drive” with your own drive letters. Also add the specific folder from which you wish to restore files.

We hope that you can use one or more methods to recover deleted files. While you are here, it is also important that you always back up your files to avoid such errors in the future. Also, if you are more technically savvy and prefer to recover deleted files automatically, check out our top 5 deleted file recovery software.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I recover deleted files from my flash disk from the recycle bin?

The Recycle Bin can only recover files that have been deleted from your hard drive. To recover files from other drives, you will need a special program.

2. If I delete a damaged file, will it still be damaged when I restore it?

If the file was corrupt when deleted, restoring it will not fix it. The actual data is still there until something new comes along and is overwritten, at which point the old data is gone forever.

3. How long do files keep in the Recycle Bin?

The files are kept in the Recycle Bin until you delete them or until your hard drive fills up and Windows needs to make space on your computer. You can also set how long files are kept in the Recycle Bin.

Click on Wins+me Keys to open “Settings->System->Storage” and then click on the “Change how to free up space automatically” link.

The Recycle Bin changes how we free up space

Under “Temporary files” select the check box for “Delete files from my Recycle Bin if they’ve been around for more than that” and select a time frame from the drop-down list.

Recycle Bin - keep files

In Windows 11, you will find the same option by going to “Settings-> System-> Storage-> Storage Sense”. Turn on the feature, to be able to configure the Recycle Bin option.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Claire Morra
Claire Morra

I like to write about the latest technologies and how they can be used to solve problems. Crazy about all things Android, Windows, and more.

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