You’ve created the perfect video to share with your friends, family, or customers. You spent precious time filming, editing it, and rendering it. Or maybe you simply caught on video a moment in time that will never occur again: Your wedding, your child’s first words, or graduation from high school, the opening of your small business. Those moments are precious and should be captured for posterity.

recover deleted video files from your PC

You’ve saved those videos on your computer or your laptop, with the intention of making use of them soon. But then, the video files turn up missing. Gone. Nowhere to be found. Those lost videos could be anywhere. Maybe you’ve misplaced them, your software has removed them, or maybe those video files have become the victim of accidental deletion.

Can I Restore Deleted Videos?

This is an important question. But let me ease your mind. Yes, you can restore those deleted videos.

📹 What do you do to restore video files? First, you do not panic. Second, you turn to a data recovery tool, like Disk Drill that does a great job of recovering nearly every possible video format. I’m going to walk you through recovering deleted video files using data recovery software on both Windows and macOS.

In fact, it would be a rare instance where you couldn’t restore those videos. One such instance would be if you:

  • Deleted videos and then your hard drive was physically damaged. If the damage was so great that neither recovery software nor a recovery service was unable to read the drive, those files are gone.
  • Another instance would be if the files were deleted by a special type of software that shreds files (so they cannot be restored). 
  • It’s impossible to recover overwritten files.

Other than those rare occasions, it’s not only possible to recover your lost video files, it’s actually quite easy. Before we dive into recovering those video files with a tool, we’ll first find out how to recover files that you’ve accidentally deleted, but not permanently deleted.

How to Recover Deleted Video Files from a Recycle Bin 🗑️

On both the Windows and Mac platforms, when you delete a file it goes to a special location. With the Windows operating system, that location is called the Recycle Bin. On macOS, the location that houses deleted files is called Trash.

How to Recover Deleted Videos from an SD Card →

Most often, this is where you should start first. Why? Because when you accidentally delete a file, chances are good you’ve selected that file by mistake and either hit the Delete key on your keyboard or right-clicked the files and then clicked Delete from the resulting menu.

When that happens, those files have really only been sent to the Recycle Bin (or macOS Trash) and remain until you empty it (or, in this case, restore them). This is the best way to recover deleted videos from your PC for free.

Windows Recycle Bin

To restore a video from the Windows Recycle Bin, follow these steps:

Step 1: Double-click the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop.

Step 2: Locate the file to be restored in the file manager.

Step 3: Right-click the file and select Restore. The file will be restored back to the location it was in, prior to its deletion.

Recovering files from the Windows Recycle Bin.

macOS Trash

Now let’s take a look at the same process but on a Mac computer. The process is very similar. After you’ve accidentally deleted a video file, follow these steps:

Step 1: Click the Trash icon on the Dock to open it.

Step 2: Locate the file to be restored.

Step 3: Two-finger tap (or right-click) the file and then click Put Back. The file will be restored back to the location it was in, prior to its deletion.

Recovering files from macOS Trash.

But what if those video files aren’t in the Recycle Bin or the Trash? Unless you’ve set up restore points (and your missing video files are included in the latest restore point), this is when you turn to a tool like Disk Drill. 

How to Recover Deleted Videos on Windows

Here are the steps for recovering video files with Disk Drill on Windows. 

Disk Drill
Data recovery for free
Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery

Step 1: Open Disk Drill for Windows.

Step 2: Select your hard drive from the list (which can include USB drives, SD cards and other attached storage devices).

Selecting your hard drive in Disk Drill on Windows 10.

Step 3: Select All recovery methods from the drop-down.

Step 4: Click Search for lost data. Disk Drill will begin the scan process. As it locates lost/deleted files, it will display a count for each file type.

Disk Drill locating files on Windows 10.

It is important that you allow the scan to complete. If you do not, the success of your recovery could be compromised. Depending on how large your drive is and how much data it contains, this can take some time. 

Step 5: When the scan completes, click Review found items and then, from the left sidebar, click Video. Expand the Reconstructed entry and keep expanding until you find the name of the deleted file. Right-click that filename and select Preview. Do not skip the preview step, as this is important to verify that the file is actually recoverable. If the preview plays as expected, click the checkbox associated with the file and then click Recover.

Selecting your lost file from within Disk Drill on Windows 10.

Step 6: When prompted, select a location to house the recovered file and click OK.

Congratulations, your video file has been recovered!

How to Recover Deleted Videos on Mac

The process for macOS is very similar to that of Windows. 

Disk Drill
Data recovery for free
Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery

Step 1: Open Disk Drill for Mac.

Step 2: Select your hard drive from the list (which can include a USB drive, an SD card, and other attached storage devices).

Step 3:  Select All recovery methods from the drop-down.

Step 4: Click Search for lost data. 

Step 5: When prompted, type the APFS decryption password.

You must type your decryption password before continuing on.

Allow the scan to complete. Just like with Windows, it’s very important that you allow Disk Drill to complete the process (otherwise you could compromise the integrity of your data).

Step 6: When the scan completes, click Review found items and then, from the left sidebar, click the Video entry. Expand the folders until you find the video you are looking to recover. Two-finger tap (or right-click) the entry and select Preview. If the video plays as expected, click the associated checkbox and then click Recover.

Our file is ready for recovery on macOS.

Step 7: When prompted, select a location to house the recovered video and then click Recover. 

Congratulations, your video file has been recovered!

Disk Drill is capable of recovering the following popular video formats:

  • Flash video: FLV, AVI
  • MPEG-4 video: MP4
  • MPEG video: MPG
  • Adobe Director Movie: DIR
  • Windows Media Video: WMV
  • Final Cut Pro: FCP
  • iTunes: M4B, M4P
  • And many others

It is also capable of recovering the following RAW video formats:

  • CinemaDNG: reconstruct deleted digital cinema files
  • Canon CRM: Cinema RAW Light HD videos
  • QuickTime-based video recovery (MOV and similar containers)
  • MPC: compressed audio files based on MPEG-2 algorithms

And because Disk Drill can recover lost videos from your USB Flash Drive, PC/laptop, macOS/MacBook, SD or CF card, digital camera, USB drives, and external drives, the likelihood of success is considerable. As long as files haven’t been corrupted or overwritten, it’ll find them.

How to recover lost video files with Disk Drill on External Drives

The same process works for external drives (and even SD/CF cards). To recover deleted video files from an external drive, you would follow the same steps as outlined above, only you would select the external drive in the Disk Drill main window (instead of the internal drive).

Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, ZDNet, TechTarget and Linux.com.

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.