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How to recover deleted files in Windows 10

quite common to accidentally delete an important file and then end up at that moment with the palm of your hand. Whether you deleted an important file while in the madness of deleting all the junk files, or had to completely format your hard drive, it may not be the end of the world. There is still the possibility that you may be able to recover your deleted data if you follow the right steps and use the appropriate tools.

You can use a third party data recovery tool or even a data recovery service to recover deleted data. In this post, we will show you how to recover deleted files in Windows 10 using two different methods.

Note: the instructions below work in all versions of Windows, so you can use them even if you have a different version of Windows.

Why are the data recoverable?

You may think that all your data is deleted as soon as you delete it, in reality the data is simply marked as "deleted" and means that the operating system is not present. The data is still available on the hard drive, but it gets overwritten over time as you add more data. If it is not overwritten, a recovery tool can extract this data and allow it to be recovered. You might also ask yourself, does this also happen to all your private data? The answer is, that's why you need to use a file shredder software to permanently delete private data.

Find the deleted file

Before starting to "recover" the data, it is best to make sure that the data is actually erased and that there are no backups available. The recovery process is more difficult and risky, so it would be better if we could get the file with any other media. Below we have listed some common places where your file may be lurking.

Check the trash: it might seem a little obvious, but some less tech-savvy people don't know about the trash yet. When you delete a file, it goes directly to the trash instead of being completely deleted. The recycle bin should be on the Windows 10 desktop, just open the recycle bin and look for the file there. If you find it, right click on it and select "Restore" to restore the file.

Check backups: If you are using the built-in Windows backup feature or a third-party backup tool, check the external backup drive and check if the important file can be found there.

Check cloud storage: if your important file was stored in a cloud storage folder like OneDrive or Google Drive, then there is a good chance that it's still available in the trash. Log in to your cloud storage service and check if your important file is available in the "Trash" folder. Most cloud storage services keep your deleted files safe for up to 60 days, so act quickly.

Look for it: there is a possibility that you have lost the file or that another user on your PC has moved it somewhere else. In that case, enter the exact name of your file in the "Search bar" and Windows 10 will show it to you.

Recover the deleted file

Okay so it looks like you have deleted the file for sure and there is no backup to recover from. Well, then let's start recovering your precious data using a data recovery tool. For this purpose, Recuva a perfect tool that simple and very powerful. It has both a free and a paid version, but the paid version only offers virtual hard disk support, automatic updates and premium customer support. There are no restrictions on the features of the free version, so we recommend using the free version and recovering data (unless you need to recover data from a virtual hard drive).

Recuva can be used in two ways to recover data, a faster way and a safer way.

Things to keep in mind before recovering data

Here are some things to keep in mind when recovering data:

  • You can only restore data from a magnetic hard drive, SSDs completely delete the data and recovery software doesn't work on them.
  • Try not to add more data to your hard drive to make sure your important file is not overwritten.
  • The recovery software can also recover overwritten files, so there is still the possibility that you may be able to recover some parts of the file.

Method 1: safest method for very important files

If the file you want to restore is extremely important and you don't want to take any risks, please turn off your PC right now and read this post from another device. The more you use the PC, the more data is written to the hard drive. Even while you are browsing you are adding data to your hard drive, such as local cache, temporary files and downloads, etc. The data is written randomly, so even if a single part of your file is overwritten, it may corrupt the file.

Risking downloading Recuva directly to the hard drive containing your important file is likely to overwrite file data. Here you can download the portable version of Recuva to an external drive and use it to recover data. Download the version of Recuva Portable to another PC and move it to the external drive, like a USB stick (you will have to extract it first).

Now connect the external drive to the PC containing your important file and start the portable version of Recuva from the external drive. The Recuva wizard will start, which will guide you through the entire recovery procedure and facilitate data recovery by clicking Next here to start the process.

A first page, you will have to select the type of file. To make the tool search for the file easier and faster, better select the category of the type of file to which the file belongs. Otherwise, you can also select "All files" here to search for all files (also valid for multiple types of deleted files).

Once you have selected the file type, you will be asked to choose the exact location from where you deleted the file. You can choose the recycle bin, documents, units and even external units. If you are unsure of the exact location, select "I'm not sure" and click "Next".

On the next page, you will see an option for "Enable Deep Scan" and start the scan. We recommend to use "Deep Scan" only in case the quick scan is not able to recover the deleted file. Deep Scan takes a long time (even hours), so better to give a quick scan before trying. Without enabling deep scan, click "Start" and Recuva will start scanning.

It will only take a few seconds to complete a quick scan and you will see all the recovered files in the Recuva interface. You should see a circle next to each recovered file indicating whether they could be recovered or not.

Green circle: means that the file is fully recoverable and no data is overwritten.

Orange circle: it means that some of the data is overwritten, but the file may still be recovered and may work properly.

Red circle: it means that most of the data has been overwritten and very unlikely that you will be able to recover the file or use it.

You can check the box next to the files you want to restore and click the "Restore" button below to attempt to recover them. If you want more options, you can also click on the "Switch to advanced mode" button.

In advanced mode, you can search for the file with the name and scan different locations with fullcontrol again. You can also change the basic settings by clicking on "Options" in the upper right corner.

If the quick scan does not show the deleted file, repeat the procedure again and select "Enable deep scan" this time. It will take a long time, but it will definitely show your deletion file (even if it cannot recover it).

Method 2: faster method but one that can overwrite important data

If you are not in the mood to go through the long process mentioned in the first method, you can download Recuva directly and start the recovery procedure. During the process you will browse the web, downloading Recuva and installing it. If the data from one of these steps overwrites the important file, it may corrupt it. However, the odds are also very low and if you recently deleted the file, it will most likely not be overwritten by any data. I even managed to recover the 2 year old data, so there is a good chance that no problem will occur (but the risk exists). Just download the Regular Recuva installation file and install it. Start the file and the rest of the steps are the same as indicated in the first method.

Suggestion: if you can't recover the file with the above methods, you can also get help from a professional data recovery service, like DriveSavers. They could be very expensive, but in most cases they are able to recover even a completely overwritten file.


For now, Recuva may have saved your data and let you use your file again. Data recovery is based on luck, if any of the new data overwrites your file it may be damaged. So better to always have a backup of all your important files so you never have to depend on a recovery tool. You can use the integrated Windows backup solution or try a plethora of third-party backup solutions to protect your important data.

Were you able to recover your important data using Recuva? Share your story with us in the comments below.