From personal data to important business documents, your devices store many files with the essential information you can’t afford to lose. Unfortunately, they aren’t always secured against loss and accidental deletion.

Few things are more frustrating than accidentally deleting important files. It’s even worse when you check your Recycle Bin and realize it has been wiped clean before trying to recover them.

Luckily, there are several ways to recover deleted or lost files on your PC, whether you need an old version or a past draft. Many are free and require no technical knowledge.

Read on to learn the best file recovery methods in 2023. 

Look in the Recycle Bin

If you need to recover a file that may have been accidentally deleted, looking in the Recycle Bin is the first thing you should do. You only have to double-click the trashcan icon on your screen and examine everything inside it. 

Do you want to save time and make the process easier? Organize all the files in the Recycle Bin by date and try to find the one you need. If it’s there, just drag it back onto your desktop.

You can also right-click and choose the “Restore” option in the pop-up menu. This action will send the file back to the folder it was deleted from.

Not sure which folder the file was stored in? Don’t worry! Using the search bar, you can type the file name and search for a specific element among all the files on your PC.

Use the Control Panel

Sometimes, the file isn’t deleted but stored elsewhere on your PC. Therefore, if you can’t find the ones you’re looking for in the Recycle Bin, try tracking them down with the search bar.

Do you want to use the Control Panel to find these files? Click on the Windows icon in the screen’s bottom-left corner and type the file name on the finder. This function allows users to search all folders on the device.

As a result, you can track down files you thought you had lost but are stored in unexpected places.

Consider a Data Recovery Software

Native tools are intuitive and easy to use, but you won’t always get good results if you use them. Several third-party programs designed for software developers and other experts can help you recover files that may have been deleted.

Microsoft File Recovery is a free tool to download from the Microsoft Store. The program has two search modes – regular (for files that have been recently deleted) and extensive (for files that were deleted a long time ago or were corrupted).

In both cases, an administrator must give this solution access to the hard drive once you launch the program and the Command Prompt appears.

Retrieve Files from Manual Backups

Hopefully, you’ve followed experts’ advice and applied the best practices by doing backups regularly. They’re a great way to protect crucial data from accidental deletion and loss.

Also, if you made backups, you may be able to recover lost files with the backup media. These are the steps you must follow:

  1. Connect the storage device containing your backups to your PC
  2. Launch File Explorer
  3. Find the deleted files you want to recover on the backup storage device
  4. Copy such files from the backup storage device and paste them into the original device
  5. Make sure you’re copying the files instead of moving them, as you would also delete those files from the backup if you move them to another device

Use the File History Feature

Windows operating system includes a feature that can save your life when you need to recover deleted or lost data: File History. This option allows users to create backups of different folders, such as Documents, Videos, Pictures, and Music.

The File History feature stores several backup copies of the same file on an external drive or network location. Here are the steps:

  1. Select “Start”
  2. Click on “Settings”
  3. Select “Update & Security”
  4. Click on “Backup”
  5. Select “Add a drive”
  6. Choose a network location or external drive to store your backups.

With this feature, you can recover old versions of the same file. Also, the process is straightforward. You just have to follow a few steps:

  1. Using the taskbar’s search box, type “Restore files”
  2. Select the “Restore your files with File History” option
  3. Find the file you need to recover
  4. Use the arrows to see the file’s versions
  5. Click on “Restore” to save the version you want in its original folder 
  6. Right-click on “Restore,” choose “Restore to,” and select a new location if you want to save the restored file in a different folder

This method works if your device is running Windows 10. In Windows 11, restoring files from a backup with that function is slightly different. You can find more information on Microsoft’s official website.

Recovering Files on Other Devices

For deleted or lost files that aren’t on a Windows PC, we have ways to help those alternative devices as well: 

Mac Computers

Do you have a Mac computer? Here are the methods that can help you recover deleted or lost files:

  • Trash Bin (where the device store deleted files)
  • Undo option (a special command that undoes the last action you take)
  • Terminal commands (an option that relies on special text commands to retrieve deleted files from the command line)
  • Backup solution or device (backup tools that allow you to create copies of files and recover them later)
  • Third-party recovery software (solutions or applications that can recover files, even if they have been permanently deleted and other options cannot retrieve them)

External Hard Drives

If you have an external storage device, such as an external hard drive, you only have to connect it to your PC and copy/paste the files.

Flash Drivers

You can also recover files from a flash drive. If you have this device, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your USB to your computer
  2. Once your PC recognizes the device, open the recovery software
  3. Recovers deleted or lost files

Memory Cards

Recovering lost files from an SD card is also possible and so easy. 

You only have to insert the SD card into the card reader connected to your PC. After that, scan the memory card for deleted data using a recovery software solution.

Use Data Recovery Services

Using data recovery services might be the best option if you have tried all these options and still cannot recover your lost files.

Experts know the tricks and best techniques to recover corrupted files or retrieve lost data. In addition, professionals can help you understand the best practices for making backups or protecting your critical information.

To find the best data recovery service, research or ask your colleagues for referrals.

Remember that you may only need a smaller and cheap service to recover basic Microsoft Word documents. However, professionals with extensive data recovery experience may offer better plans and tools if you need to recover different items or sensitive data.

Final Thoughts

Do you make backups regularly? Do you have a file recovery plan if something goes wrong and you lose important data? Knowing how to recover files is essential for personal use and business use.

From a historical company logo to medical records, you may need an old file at any time. However, there are always risks of accidents and human errors that can cause significant file deletion.

Fortunately, having the right tools in place and knowing the best data recovery methods can protect your important information and assets when there’s an emergency.

Did you try these options but couldn’t recover your deleted or lost files? It’s time to get help from experts! At CNG IT, we have a team with extensive experience in backup, disaster recovery, and data security. Our specialists are ready to help our clients find the solutions they need.

We’re here to help you with your IT problems at an affordable rate. Call us at (951) 317-9562 and request a free quote.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens When I Accidentally Delete a File?

Files won’t permanently disappear from your device if you delete them, whether on purpose or by accident. You’ll only lose entries or access to them when a file system gets damaged.

Even if the file is cleared from the Recycle Bin, its actual data will remain on the device. Therefore, you can recover that data using the methods mentioned above.

Is Recovering Deleted Files Difficult?

As you can see, many tricks and methods exist to recover deleted and lost files. The difficulty often depends on how long ago the file was deleted.

What Is Data Recovery?

Overall, “data recovery” describes the process that allows you to recover data from corrupt or damaged storage devices. You can use hardware, software, or a combination of both.

Can I Find Backups Created on Previous Windows Versions in Windows 10?

Yes, you can! If you used the Backup and Restore feature to back up your files in previous Windows versions, old backups may still be available in Windows 10.

To recover them, type “Control Panel” in the taskbar’s search box, and select “System and Security.” Then, click “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” and find the old backups you need.

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