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Restore lost files in Windows with Shadow Explorer

These days it's pretty hard to lose data with ubiquitous cloud storage and extremely reliable storage media. However, sometimes things go very, very badly. Perhaps a ransomware attack or an intentional cancellation by an angry relative.

Regardless of why your files are gone, there is an intelligent feature in Windows (from Vista) that could only save your bacon.

It's called Volume Shadow Copy and acts as an automated backup solution that automatically stores copies of files in the background.

Most users are completely unaware of the shadow copy and, unfortunately, the integrated tool to access previous versions of Windows not particularly user-friendly.

Fortunately there is a great free software called Shadow Explorer that allows you, well, to explore all the data that was stored in the shadow copy. If you are lucky, the files you are looking for will still be there.

Note that this differs from restoring deleted files using the "undelete" software. This involves the recovery of data that has been marked for deletion. Undelete software can be used in parallel with Shadow Explorer.

Exploring the Shadow Copy

The first thing you should do is download the software and install it. Both a traditional installation program and a portable version of the program are available.

Once installed, launch Shadow Explorer and you will be presented with this window. Looks a lot like the classic File Explorer.

Here things are fairly self-explanatory. Choose a unit in the upper left part of the window and then select a date from the drop-down list. If a unit is selected, but nothing is displayed in the right pane, it means that System Restore is disabled on the system.

Check my previous post on how to enable / disable System Restore in Windows.

The available files are now displayed. Search for the files or folders you want. If you find one you want to save, simply right-click on it and select Export .

You will then be asked to select a save location.

After choosing a save location, you will find the files / folders securely delivered wherever you have chosen. so easy! You can also go up FileConfigure System Protection to check your current shadow copy settings.

This basically opens the tab System Restore in Windows.

We recommend that you make sure that protection is enabled for any drive that contains important data for which you want to back up versions. You can also manually create a system restore point by clicking the button Create . To enjoy!