All it takes to delete a file in Windows is a single button press, and all it takes to delete a file permanently is a single keystroke combination:
Delete. When pulling an all-nighter to finish a school presentation or prepare documents for a business meeting, it’s very easy to make an honest mistake and accidentally delete a file using the Shift + Delete key combination.
In this article, we explain in detail what Shift + Delete does and provide you with several methods that you can use to recover shift deleted files.
What Does Shift + Delete Do?
To understand what Shift + Delete does, it’s useful to first review what happens when you press the Delete key on its own.
When you select a file and press the Delete key, the selected file is moved to the Recycle Bin, which is a temporary storage area for files that have been deleted by the user but have not yet been permanently erased from the file system.
When you delete a file by pressing Shift + Delete, the file isn’t moved to the Recycle Bin. Instead, Windows simply marks the storage area occupied by the file as being available for use by modifying the file table, a complete list of files with their various attributes.
Is Shift Deleted File Recovery Possible?
As we’ve just explained, shift deleted files don’t go anywhere when they are deleted. If you start recovering shift deleted files before Windows overwrites them with new files, you can get them back. The difficult part is figuring out how to recover shift deleted files on Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP.
Method 1: Disk Drill
Performing the recovery of shift deleted files using Disk Drill is easy because the software delivers the best results possible with the least amount of effort required from the user.
To recover shift deleted files:
- Download Disk Drill for Windows.
- Open the downloaded file and install Disk Drill.
- Launch Disk Drill and click the
"Search for lost data"button next to the storage device from which you want to recover shift deleted files.
- Wait until Disk Drill finishes scanning the storage device.
Choose which files you want to recover and optionally change the recovery location.
- Click the
"Recover"button and enjoy your files.
As you can see, anyone can recover shift deleted files using Disk Drill in just a couple of minutes and without any expert knowledge! That’s because Disk Drill is designed with the average user in mind, unlike many other data recovery software tools, which often seem incomprehensible without a lengthy manual.
Method 2: File History
All recent versions of the Windows operating system come with a handy backup feature called File History, which saves copies of your files so you can get them back if they’re lost or damaged. To activate File History:
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to
"Update & Security > Backup".
- Add a backup drive by clicking on the Add a drive option.
- An on/off slider will now appear under a new heading called
"Automatically back up my files". Make sure the slider is in the
If the “Automatically back up my files” toggle has been in the “On” position for some time, the chances are that your shift deleted files are included in a recent File History backup. In such a case, you can recover them like this:
- Right-click the folder that contained the shift deleted file.
- Choose Restore previous version from the context menu. On Windows 11, you need to click Show more options first.
- Select the version you want to restore and click the Restore button.
Keep in mind that Windows 10 backs up only the folders in your User folder, and it does so every hour. You can change these settings by clicking on More options right under the on/off slider.
Method 3: Backup and Restore
If you’re using an older version of the Windows operating system and have access only to the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) feature to protect your files against data loss, then you can follow these instructions instead to check if the backup feature is enabled:
- Open Control Panel.
- Go to
"System and Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
- Select an available backup in the Restore section or click the Select another backup to restore files from option if no backup is listed.
Method 4: Live File Recovery CD or USB Drive
There are many Linux-based file recovery live CDs and USB drives that you can use to safely recover deleted files from your computer. Because Linux-based file recovery live CDs and USB drives access the storage device with the deleted files only during the actual recovery process, they provide a fairly good chance of successful recovery.
Method 5: AnyRecover
Another data recovery tool that you can use to recover shift deleted files that can’t be found in the Recycle Bin is called AnyRecover. To recover shift deleted files with AnyRecover:
- Download AnyRecover software
- Open AnyRecover.
"Deleted Files Recovery"mode.
- Choose the storage device where you intend to recover your lost data.
- Select the file extensions of the files you want to recover.
- Click the
"Scan"button to begin the process of recovery.
- Wait for AnyRecover to finish scanning.
Select which files you want to recover and specify the recovery location.
- Click the
"Recover"button to retrieve your files.
Method 6: Windows File Recovery
Windows File Recovery is a command-line data recovery tool released by Microsoft. The tool is designed to help Windows users recover shift deleted files from internal and external storage devices. Because it doesn’t have a graphical user interface, it’s considerably less user friendly than Disk Drill. This is what its syntax looks like:
winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]
For example, this is how it can be used to recover the main Documents folder on drive C to a recovery folder on drive G:
winfr C: G: /regular /n \Users\<username>\Documents\
You can enter these and other commands supported by Windows File Recovery into Windows Terminal or Command Prompt.
Method 7: Cloud Backups
The latest versions of the Windows operating system integrate Microsoft’s cloud backup service, OneDrive. Those who use it to back up their most important files enjoy an additional backup location from which they can recover shift deleted files.
Of course, many other cloud backup services exist, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Mega, and so on. These services safely store files in remote data centers, and they can keep them in sync across multiple personal devices, protecting you not only from accidental shift delete but also natural disasters, theft, and other common causes of data loss.
Bonus: Professional Data Service
If you don’t feel that you have the skills or time necessary to recover shift deleted files yourself, you can always take advantage of professional data recovery services. However, you should be prepared to pay quite a lot of money to get your files back, and some professional data recovery places don’t even guarantee successful recovery. There’s also the issue of privacy since you wouldn’t be the first person in the world to have his or her personal data stolen by an employee working for a professional data recovery place.
Considering how simple and cost-effective it is to recover shift deleted files with Disk Drill, we highly recommend you give it a try before you spend your hard-earned money on professional data recovery services.
There are several different ways how to recover shift deleted files on Windows 11/10/8/7/XP, but the one we recommend the most is Disk Drill. This highly intuitive data recovery software solution makes data recovery a matter of a simple mouse click while delivering professional results and featuring several extra free disk tools.