How to recover accidentally deleted files

If you are reading this article, you have probably deleted something important from your computer that you need to recover as soon as possible. Hopefully, files or folders that are no longer deleted were recently deleted, as the more data is written to disk, the more likely it is to overwrite the section of the hard drive that contained the data with new data, reducing the chances recovery.

Before going into the different ways to recover deleted files, first make sure to check a couple of things:

1. Always check your recycle bin to make sure your files aren’t there yet. If so, right-click to restore them.

2. Make sure you close all other programs, including programs that run on the taskbar.

3. Do not create new files, move data, copy data or anything else.

For this article, we will focus on recovering data from your computer’s hard drive. If you are trying to recover photos from an SD card or USB stick, check out the link to my other article. As with simpler data recovery, we always start with data recovery software. This is usually the cheapest option to get started.

If free and paid software can’t recover your data, you’ll need to use more specialized data recovery companies that charge between $ 500 and $ 1,500 to recover data directly from your hard drives. Here we will only talk about software. I will go through a couple that I have used and tested.


Recuva it is probably one of the most popular options for data recovery and I have had very good results with this program. The freeware version allows you to recover data without having to pay. Let’s see how we would use the program. Once you install and run it, the wizard interface will start. I would recommend using the wizard. Click Next and you will first be asked what type of files you want to recover.

If you know exactly what you are trying to recover, feel free to choose this type, otherwise you just have to stay All files. You will then be asked where you want to search for deleted files.

If you know the location of the deleted files, you can choose In a specific location and then click Next. However, if nothing is found in this location, it does not mean that the files cannot be recovered yet. In the test, I deleted a folder from My Documents and then emptied the Recycle Bin, but chose the My Documents location for the search. Nothing came out and I decided to try to find the whole unit. Sure, the files have been found, but in the hidden recycle bin folder of the drive. Therefore, you should always choose I’m not sure and let it search the entire unit as well if the other locations were not successful.

Finally, you can check if you want to make one Deep exploration or not. This will take longer, but you will be more likely to recover more data. Go ahead and click Search and Recuva will start scanning the hard drive.

By default, the program divides files into categories such as Documents, Music, Videos, and more. and you can change it using the drop-down box. You can also change the scan location, and if you click on any of the files, you can get a preview. Click the checkbox above to select all files, and then click Recover. You must choose a location for the files, which should be on a different drive than the one where the drive data is being restored. If data is being recovered from your C drive and you have no other drive, use a USB memory stick. You will not restore it to the same drive. The program will even warn you.

In my test, Recuva was able to recover 122 MB of 128 MB of files from images, documents and music without scanning in depth, so it is definitely a good program to try first as it is also free.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery

The next tool, MiniTool Power Data Recovery, is really better than Recuva in terms of data recovery and features, but the free version only allows you to recover up to 1GB of data. Then you’ll have to buy a personal license, which is $ 69. It’s a bit pricey, but it all depends on the importance of the data you’ll need to retrieve. If they’re beautiful family photos, $ 69 is nothing.

Once you install it, you need to choose what type of recovery you want to perform. For deleted files, you would choose Recovery recovery. As you can see, you can also use the program to recover it from digital media, recover data from CD / DVD, etc.

Choose the drive from which you want to retrieve the data and click Recover button.

The scanning process is really quite fast and you will get a tree view of the different recovered files and folders. You want to go to the folder where the files were saved and see if this path exists.

Then select the files using the checkboxes and click Save files. Again, save the files to a different disk so that you don’t risk overwriting the deleted data while recovering.


One last program worth trying is TestDisk, which is free software. The program is also included with PhotoRec, which is a program I talked about in my other post about recovering photos from SD cards. The TestDisk program is used to recover files on hard disks.

When you download the zip file, extract it, and then run the file testdisk_win application located in the directory. You will see a command prompt appear and this is how the program runs. It’s a little intimidating, but it’s actually very easy to use.

  • It will first ask you if you want to create a log file, add one, or not use one. I would suggest leaving it highlighted To create and pressing Enter. You will now be asked which disk you want to scan.
  • Use the arrow keys to select the disc, and then make sure Continue is selected before pressing Enter. It will then ask you what type of disk you are using.
  • If your computer uses Windows with NTFS or FAT partitions, leave it with Intel. They also have options for Mac-formatted drives, Sun Solaris systems, and even an XBox partition.
  • Finally, choose Advanced to access advanced file tools. Make sure you use the right arrow key to go to Recovery and then press Enter.
  • After a while, you will get a list of all the files that have been found. You can select individual files using the file : or you can press A to select all files. When selected, the text will turn green. Then press C to copy files.
  • Note that if you have multiple files selected, you must press uppercase C and not lowercase c. At first I didn’t realize it and just got a file and didn’t know why. Finally, it will ask you for a destination, so be sure to choose a location on the disk with the deleted files.

If you have managed to overcome all this, you should see a red line at the top that tells you how many files have been copied. Once completed, some or all of your data is expected to be recovered.

So here are three very good programs that you can use to recover deleted files on your PC. The most important thing to understand is that time is of the essence, do not use the computer at all, do not install the recovery software on the same drive as the deleted files, and do not recover the files on the same drive. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments. Enjoy it!

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