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Delete a file in Windows and you can often get it back even if it’s not in the Recycle Bin. Third-party data recovery tools are available, but can be expensive. As an alternative, Microsoft offers a command-line tool called Windows File Recovery that can recover deleted files. Available in the Microsoft Store, the app supports Windows 10 with the May 2020 Update or later, as well as Windows 11.
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Windows File Recovery can recover photos, documents, videos and other types of files on mechanical hard drives, SSDs, USB drives or memory cards. The program supports FAT, NTFS and exFAT file systems. FAT and exFAT are used for SD cards, flash drives, and USB drives with less than 4 GB of space. NTFS is typically used on mechanical drives, solid state drives, external hard drives, flash drives, and USB drives larger than 4 GB.
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The initial version of Windows File Recovery released in the summer of 2020 offers three different recovery modes: Standard, Segment and Signature, each aimed at a specific situation. The version launched during the 2021 season reduces your options to two modes as a way to simplify the program:
If you’re not sure which mode to use, Microsoft recommends starting with regular mode. The table below can also help you decide:
As a command line tool, Windows File Recovery is definitely more complicated to use than a traditional GUI application. But if you know the steps and are comfortable working on the command line, you can use this tool to recover files that seem to be gone.
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If you’re using Windows 10, make sure you’re running the May 2020 Update (Windows 10 2004) or later. To check, go to Settings > System > About and scroll down to the Windows specifications section. If the version number says 2004 or higher, you’re good to go.
Otherwise, go to Settings > Update & security and click Check for updates to get the latest updates. If you are using Windows 11, you are ready to use the tool.
Open the Microsoft Store and browse to the Windows File Recovery page (Opens in a new window). Click the Get button to download the program.
To recover deleted files, open Windows File Recovery from the Start menu shortcut. In Windows 11, you may need to click the All apps link in the Start menu to find the shortcut.
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A command prompt window opens to show you the actual syntax used with the command, as well as some examples. The basic syntax for the command is as follows:
For example, suppose you want to find a recently deleted file named myresume.docx stored in your Documents folder on drive C and save the recovered version to a USB stick set as your E-drive. If you are using Normal mode, you must type the following command, replacing it
Before executing such an order, there are several conditions. The source and destination disks must be different. If your computer is not equipped with two drives, just plug in a USB device and use it as a destination. The tool automatically creates a folder called
You can specify a different folder for the files, but let’s stick with the default option. Also, if the folder or file name contains spaces, you must enclose the entire path in quotation marks, such as:
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After you type the command, the tool will prompt you to continue. Type Y and Windows File Recovery scans your disk for deleted files. If the file exists, the application tries to retrieve it. If it succeeds, it puts the application on
Folder on the destination drive. The command ends by asking if you want to view the recovered files. Type Y.
You will then see the Recovery folder and the RecoveryLog.txt file on the destination drive. Drill through the folders under Recovery until you find the recovered files. Open the file to make sure it is intact and readable.
If the file doesn’t appear in the Recovery folder, you have a few options. You can try again, and this time specify the location without the file name, like so:
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This option will also show all deleted files in that folder. Just make sure to add a backslash at the end of the folder name.
This option will search the entire hard drive for files. Another option is to add a wildcard to change the file name or extension, for example:
If you still can’t find or restore files, it’s time to try advanced mode. Here, you simply change
After entering the command, follow the same steps that you use in normal mode to restore files. For more information and details on how to use the application and some of its switches, see Microsoft’s support page for fixing missing files (Opens in a new window) with Windows.
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I have been working since the beginning of 2016, writing tutorials, tutorials, and other articles about consumer technology. Additionally, I have written news and how-to articles for various other websites and publications, including CNET, ZDNet, TechRepublic, Macworld, Popular Science, Time, Fortune, US News & World Report, and AARP Magazine. I spent seven years writing breaking news for CNET as one of the site’s East Coast reporters. I also wrote two books for Wiley & Sons – we’ve all done it, and most of us will do it again at some point in the future. We are talking, of course, about accidentally deleting important files with it
The good news is that all hope is not lost when you choose the wrong file and delete it accidentally, because there are many ways to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10 that users should know, and we explain them all in this article.
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On your keyboard, the file is moved to the Recycle Bin, where it resides until you manually empty the Recycle Bin, giving you time to change your mind and easily recover deleted files.
The problem with this way of deleting files is that it doesn’t immediately free up storage space, which is why many people delete files in the first place. Only when you empty the Recycle Bin manually, Windows marks the disk space occupied by deleted files as free.
If you want to delete a file that you are 100% positive will not be needed in the future, you can skip the Recycle Bin and use it
Shortcut for immediate permanent deletion. When you delete a file using the Shift + Delete shortcut, you immediately free up storage space, but you lose the ability to restore it from the Recycle Bin.
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However, just because you can’t recover permanently deleted files from the Recycle Bin doesn’t mean you can’t recover them all. Just keep in mind that you must act quickly and recover your deleted files permanently before they are overwritten.
We start with the most user-friendly method, which includes a command line and a series of very specific commands. If you can successfully use this method, we are sure that you will not have any problems with the other methods described in this article.
The recovery process may take some time to complete, so be patient and don’t panic. If possible, do not do anything on the computer while the recovery process is running because you may overwrite the deleted files and prevent the recovery.
Windows Vista introduced a new data recovery component called Backup and Restore, which allows users to create backups and restore from previously created backups.
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Although Backup and Restore has been removed from the Windows operating system in Windows 8.1 in favor of File History (more about File History in the next chapter of this article), it is still possible to restore data on a Windows 10 computer from a backup created using a backup. and return the help of the device.
Disk Drill is a professional data recovery software that is so easy to use that it is suitable even for complete beginners. With Disk Drill, you can recover hundreds of file formats alone
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