How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows PC Easily

Different methods exist to recover deleted files on Windows, even those that have been permanently removed from the Recycle Bin. To help you get started, we’ve put together this comprehensive overview of the best recovery methods, including everything from free built-in features to our easy-to-use and highly effective data recovery software tool: Disk Drill.

Best Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Windows 11/10/8/7

When faced with the task of recovering deleted files on a Windows 11/10/8/7 computer, there are several effective methods you can put to good use. While each of the methods we described below can deliver great results, it's always wise to start by checking the Recycle Bin since it’s the lowest-hanging fruit. Once that’s done, you can use data recovery software like Disk Drill or attempt to recover your files from local or cloud backups.

How to recover deleted files on Windows with Recycle Bin:

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by clicking on its icon.
  2. Search for the files you wish to recover.
  3. Right-click on the file or folder you want to recover.
  4. Select the Restore option from the menu to recover the item to its original location. Another method is to drag the files out of the Recycle Bin to the desktop or another storage location.
Quick & Easy Method: How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows 11/10/8/7

Method 1. Recover Deleted Files with File Recovery Software

It’s easy to accidentally delete files and sometimes there is no backup available, but there’s no need to panic. One effective solution is to use file recovery software, and we highly recommend trying Disk Drill because it’s designed for both novice and advanced users and offers many valuable features and benefits:

  • Restore up to 500 MB of data for free Restore up to 500 MB of data for free;
  • Preview files before performing a recovery Preview files before performing a recovery;
  • Recover files in any format Recover files in any format;
  • Obtain free file protection and data backup tools Obtain free file protection and data backup tools;
  • Mount scan results as a virtual drive Mount scan results as a virtual drive;
  • Perform S.M.A.R.T. monitoring of your HDD or SSD Perform S.M.A.R.T. monitoring of your HDD or SSD.

Undeleting lost files even after emptying Recycle Bin is a real possibility with the right tools. However, it's important to note that if your files were deleted from an SSD (Solid State Drive), the recovery process is affected by the TRIM command.

Therefore, as soon as you realize that a file or an entire partition has been deleted, it's crucial to act swiftly. Immediately disconnect the storage device and, if possible, boot from a different drive than the one with the erased data. Avoid using the drive with the deleted data until you are ready to initiate the recovery process with Disk Drill.

5 easy steps

Steps to Recover Deleted Files with Data Recovery Software

1. Download and Install Disk Drill for Windows

First, download Disk Drill for Windows and install it. Note that Disk Drill should not be installed on the disk from which files have been deleted. Installing file recovery software on the same disk where your deleted files were located can overwrite the lost data. Disk Drill for Windows allows you to recover deleted files up to 500 MB for free.

  • Download Disk Drill for Windows

    Download Disk Drill for Windows

  • Install the app

    Install the app

  • Open Disk Drill

    Open Disk Drill

2. Select the drive and search for lost files

Choose the drive or partition from which you need to recover deleted files from the list displayed by Disk Drill. Scanning the complete drive produces more complete recovery results. After selecting the recovery location, click the Search for lost data button to start the tool’s sophisticated scanning algorithms which will find your deleted data. The software can get back lost files from virtually all types of disk-based storage devices, and it can also detect lost partitions when you choose to scan the entire drive. It then lets you recover files from the lost partition, complete with their original names and folder structure.

Select the drive and search for lost files

3. Preview the found files

Disk Drill provides users with the ability to preview the files found during the scanning process before performing the actual recovery. This feature can save a lot of time by enabling you to verify that the file you are recovering is really the one that you want. Additionally, a successful preview of a recoverable file confirms that the file can be recovered without any issues.

Preview the found files

4. Select which files you want to recover

A status bar shows the progress of the scan which can be paused at any point by the user. You will get the best results by allowing the scan to complete, but you may be able to save time by searching to see if the files you need have already been identified by the application. Check the box to the left of a file to choose it for recovery.

Select which files you want to recover
Use filters for a faster search or to select a specific file type
4.1 Use "filters" for a faster search or to select a specific file type

You can narrow down your search to specific types of files that have been identified as recoverable by the software for recovering deleted data. One set of filters is available in the left pane, allowing you to display only pictures, videos, audio files, documents, and archives. Another set of filters is located above the list of recoverable files, and you can use them to show files of a certain size, age, and more.

Use filters for a faster search or to select a specific file type
Search for files
4.2 Search for files

Use the search bar at the top of the app’s window to locate files with standard search terms like *.jpg or filename.*. You can also perform a full scan and search for the specific files you want to restore by opening the appropriate window containing their file type. Inside the window will be a list naming the files that have been found along with reconstructed files whose names could not be determined by the application. Check the boxes next to the files you wish to restore or click the Recover all button to get back all of the data.

Search for files
Check the Reconstruction section
4.3 Check the Reconstruction section

The Reconstruction section of each window contains files that can be recovered by Disk Drill but do not have sufficient metadata available to provide a file name. The deep scanning algorithms can reconstruct lost data based on their file signatures. While their names may not be evident, you can preview the files to determine if they are what you want before you recover them.

Check the Reconstruction section

5. Recover the deleted files

After making the selection of the files you want to restore, simply click the Recover button. At this point, you are prompted to choose a storage location where the recovered data will be stored. You should not use the same device that experienced data loss to avoid further corruption or overwriting files before they can be recovered. Click OK when you have chosen the storage location.

Recover the deleted files

Devices Suitable for Restoring Deleted Files

Personal computer’s internal drives

Personal computer’s internal drives

Deleted files from your disks that have been deleted from the Recycle Bin can easily be restored from your HDD or SSD* with this software tool.

External hard drives

External hard drives

If you have lost data from an external drive, simply connect it to your computer so it can be accessed by the application.

Flash drives

Flash drives

This recovery tool can easily restore deleted files from these portable storage devices.

Storage arrays

Storage arrays

Disk Drill is capable of recovering lost data from RAID arrays and Windows Storage Space, and the process is completely straightforward.

Memory cards

Memory cards

Connecting the device to your Windows machine allows you to recover deleted files with this software tool.

Android/iOS Devices**

Android/iOS Devices**

Easily recover lost files from your mobile devices by connecting your Android or iOS device to a Mac computer with Disk Drill.


* If TRIM is disabled. Learn more >
** Android and iOS recovery capabilities are supported only by Disk Drill for macOS.

File Types That Can Be Retrieved


Photos in a wide variety of formats such as JPG, PNG and TIFF files. Pictures can usually not be replaced, so the ability to recover these valuable memories is vitally important in recovery software.


Videos that have been downloaded or created by users can be restored easily with this application. It supports the AVI, DV, MOV, MKV, and MP4 format as well as many others that should be able to get back any video that has been accidentally lost.

Raw Images
Raw Images

RAW camera images are the preferred file format used by many digital cameras. Some of the RAW formats supported by Disk Drill include Nikon NEF, CR2 and CR3 by Cannon, and GoPro GPR among many others.


Music files in the MP3, AIF, and WAV formats are all recoverable by this data recovery tool. It enables users to easily get back those tunes that were inadvertently deleted while they were cleaning their device’s storage.


Documents are created in many formats on your Windows computer and using this recovery software lets you restore deleted files in DOCX, PPTX, and XLSX formats to name just a few of the supported file types.


Other Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Windows

Here are some other methods that you can use to attempt the recovery of deleted data on your Windows computer.


Find Recently Deleted Files in the Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin is where files that have recently been deleted are stored temporarily by the Windows operating system. You can recover files until you empty the bin or until the files roll-off due to time or capacity constraints.

To Recover Deleted Files on PC Windows 11/10/8/7 with the Recycle Bin follow these steps:

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking its icon.
  2. Locate the files you want to recover, then select them by holding the Ctrl key and clicking each file, or select multiple files in a sequence by clicking the first file, holding down Shift, and clicking the last file. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + A to select all files.
  3. Check the column displaying the original location of the file so you can find it easily after recovery.
  4. Right-click on the selection and choose Restore. If you would like to restore all files to a new location, then you can click on any selected file and drag it to the desired location.
  5. Let the process complete and then verify that the files have been recovered to their original location.

Restore Deleted Files using Previous Versions

If you have the File History feature enabled, it's possible to recover previous versions of files and folders that have been deleted using the Previous Versions feature. Here’s how:

  1. Locate the folder where the deleted files and folders were originally stored.
  2. Right-click on the folder and select Properties.
  3. Navigate to the Previous Versions tab. Here, you will see a list of previous versions of the folder, created through File History.
  4. Select the version of the folder from a date before the files were deleted.
  5. You have two options:
    • Click Restore to overwrite only the files in the current folder that existed in the selected previous version, without affecting new files added after the backup.
    • Select Restore to... to restore the folder to a different location, preserving the current folder and its contents intact.
Restore Deleted Files from the Previous Version

Restore from a Manual Backup

Backups are a great way to protect your valuable files and will come in very handy if you are faced with a data loss situation. If you have followed best practices and are making backups of your data regularly, you may be able to recover your lost files by using the backup media.

This implies that backups were made in the time between when the files were introduced to your computer and when they were deleted. Here are the general steps to use when using a backup to recover your lost data.

  1. Find the storage device that contains your backups and attach it to your machine.
  2. Launch File Explorer and locate the delete files on the backup storage device.
  3. Copy (not move!) the files you want to recover from the backup storage device back to the original device
Restore from a Manual Backup

Use the File History Feature

The Windows operating system comes with an incremental backup feature called File History. When enabled, File History automatically creates backups of files and folders in Libraries, Desktop, Contacts, and Favorites locations on your computer.

Best of all, File History keeps multiple backup copies of the same files, so you can recover, for example, older versions of documents. To restore files and folders using File History:

  1. Open the Start menu and type "Restore your files with File History" in the search bar.
  2. Select the Restore your files with File History option.
  3. Navigate to the location where the deleted folder or file was located.
  4. Select the folder or file you want to restore.
  5. Click the green Restore button to restore the selected folder or file back to its original location.
Use the File History Feature

Use the Legacy Backup and Restore (Windows 7) Feature

All versions of Windows since Windows 7 come with a feature called Backup and Restore. By default, this feature backs up data saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders, but you can also manually choose exactly what you want to back up.

If you've created a backup using the Backup and Restore feature, then restoring your deleted files from it should be painless:

  1. Open the Start menu and type "Control Panel" in the search bar.
  2. Select the Control Panel app from the list of results.
  3. Navigate to System and Security > Backup and Restore.
  4. Click the Select another backup to restore files from option.
  5. Select your backup and click Next.
  6. Specify what you want to restore and click Next.
  7. Decide if you want to restore the backup to a different location.
  8. Click Restore to start the process.
Use the Legacy Backup and Restore Windows 7 Feature

Recover Your Lost Files from OneDrive

Recent versions of Windows integrate Microsoft's cloud backup service, OneDrive, to provide users with a simple way to safely back up up to 5 GB of data for free. If you've been using the service to protect important files, then you should be able to recover them in no time:

  1. Go to
  2. Log in using your Microsoft account.
  3. Find the missing files.
  4. Select them.
  5. Click the Download button.
Recover Your Lost Files from OneDrive

Hire a Professional Data Recovery Service

If all other methods fail, you may need to engage the assistance of a professional data recovery service. This can prove to be expensive and is not the most convenient method of getting your files back. You will need to get your device to the recovery service and will be without it for the time needed to perform the recovery. These services often require access to the device before quoting a price for the restoration operation.

Use these steps if you are considering a professional data recovery service:

  1. Search Google for a local data recovery service or one with a good reputation. We suggest Cleverfiles Data Recovery Center as a reputable solution.
  2. Make your selection and follow the vendor’s guidelines to send them your storage device.
  3. Ship or deliver the device to the company and obtain a price for the recovery.
  4. Complete the financial transaction with the recovery service and let them recover your files.
  5. Pick up the device and start using your files again.
Hire a professional data recovery service

How to Recover Deleted Files on Different Platforms

Windows 10/11
Windows 10/11

One of the most effective ways of recovering deleted data on Windows 10/11 machines is with the built-in backup facility provided by the operating system.

Follow these steps to recover deleted files on Windows 10/11:

Step 1. Open the Control Panel. You can do this by typing "Control Panel" in the Windows search bar and selecting the app.
Step 2. Navigate to System and Security and then select File History.
Step 3. Click the Restore personal files button in the left pane.
Step 4. Navigate to the folder that previously contained the files you want to recover.
Step 5. Browse through the files and versions available in File History. This feature regularly keeps versions of modified files, so you can choose the version you want to recover.
Step 6. Once you have selected the files and the versions you wish to recover, click the Restore button. If there are duplicate file names, you will be prompted to choose how they should be handled.

Windows 8/8.1/7
Windows 8/8.1/7

There are many methods with which to recover deleted files on a Windows 8/8.1/7 system. The first one you should try is to recover your files from the Windows Recycle Bin with the following steps:

Step 1. Click the Recycle Bin icon to open it.
Step 2. Locate the files you want to recover. Note their original location as that is where they will be found after the process completes.
Step 3. Click the Restore button to perform the recovery.


One of the most reliable and effective ways to recover deleted data from a macOS system is with Disk Drill.

Follow these simple steps to recover deleted files on Mac:

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
Step 2. Launch the program and select the disk with the deleted files.
Step 3. Click the Recover button to begin scanning for lost data.
Step 4. Preview the files that Disk Drill has found and select the items you want to restore.
Step 5. Press Recover a second time to perform the recovery.


PhotoRec and TestDisk are versatile freeware data recovery tools that support a variety of operating systems including Linux. Here are the required steps to use this software to recover lost files on your Linux machine:

Step 1. Enter the command:
sudo apt -y install testdisk
Step 2. Navigate to the directory that contained the deleted data.
Step 3. Enter the command:
sudo photorec
Step 4. Select the hard drive for recovery and hit Enter.
Step 5. Choose the partition and file type that you wish to recover.
Step 6. Specify the partition type and if you want to tool to scan free sectors or the entire drive.
Step 7. Change folders if necessary with command-line navigation.
Step 8. Press C when ready to recover your files. They will be restored to the recup_dir folder. Filenames are not restored so you need to preview and rename the recovered files.


If you accidentally delete a file on Ubuntu with file manager, it is moved to the operating system’s Trash. Here are the steps you can use to get the file back:

Step 1. Open the Activities overview and start typing the word Files.
Step 2. Click on Files to open the file manager.
Step 3. Click on Trash in the sidebar. Press the Menu button and select Sidebar if it is not visible.
Step 4. Locate the deleted file.
Step 5. Click on the file and select Restore. It will be recovered to its original folder.

Wondering how to recover deleted files on Mac OS X? Disk Drill for macOS will help.

Tips to Avoid Losing Your Files in Future

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How to recover permanently deleted files on Windows for free?

To recover permanently deleted files on Windows, you can use the File History backup feature if it was previously set up. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open Control Panel, select System and Security, and click on File History.
  2. Click Restore personal files in File History.
  3. Browse through the backups to find your files.
  4. Select the files or folders you need.
  5. Click the Restore button to recover them to their original location, or right-click for alternate locations.

How do I recover permanently deleted files?

To recover lost or deleted files on Windows follow these steps:

  1. Navigate and right-click on the folder that contained the permanently deleted folders or files.
  2. Select ‘Restore previous versions’.
  3. Windows will display a list of previous versions of the files that were created with Windows backup.
  4. Double-click the previous version of the file or folder that you want to recover.
  5. Click ‘Restore’ or drag & drop the file to a new storage location.

How do I recover deleted files on Mac?

Use Disk Drill for Mac and employ the following steps:

  1. Download, install and launch the application.
  2. Select the disk with lost files and click the Recover button to start scanning.
  3. When the process is complete, preview and select the recoverable files that you want to restore.
  4. Click Recover again to perform the recovery. Choose a safe location other than the affected disk to store the recovered files.

Can I recover deleted files on Windows for Free?

Yes, as a Windows user, you can recover recently deleted files for free from the Recycle Bin:

  1. Double-click the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.
  2. Select the files you want to recover.
  3. Drag the files to any folder you want. Alternatively, you can right-click a selected file and choose the Restore option.

How can I recover files deleted from a Recycle Bin after it’s emptied?

To recover files from an emptied Recycle Bin follow this procedure:

  1. Install Disk Drill for Windows on a partition that does not contain the Recycle Bin.
  2. Select the disk with the Recycle Bin.
  3. Click Search for lost data to start scanning for deleted files.
  4. Select the files you wish to restore from the preview.
  5. Click Recover to retrieve the data.

How to restore permanently deleted files from the Recycle Bin without software?

In order to recover permanently deleted files from the Recycle Bin without using software follow these steps:

  1. Locate your backup storage media.
  2. Connect the backup media to your computer.
  3. Start your backup and recovery application.
  4. Search through backup copies for the files you need to recover.
  5. If they are found, select the files and restore them to your hard drive.

How do I recover deleted files from an external hard drive?

Follow these steps to recover lost files from an external hard drive:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Connect the external drive and launch the application.
  3. Click Search for lost data to scan the external drive for deleted files.
  4. Preview the files that can be recovered and make your selections.
  5. Click Recover to perform the operation and restore your lost files from an external hard drive.

How can I recover deleted files on Android devices?

  1. Use Disk Drill for Mac to recover files from an Android device. This function is not supported by the Windows version of the tool.
  2. Enable debug mode on the Android device.
  3. Connect the Android device to your computer and launch Disk Drill.
  4. Select the device and click Recover.
  5. Choose the files you want to get back and click the Recover button again.
  6. Choose a location on your computer where the files will be stored.

You will need to root your device to scan it with Disk Drill.

How do I recover deleted files from a pendrive?

Follow these steps to recover lost files from a pendrive or flash drive.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Connect the pendrive to your computer and start the app.
  3. Click Search for lost data to start scanning the pendrive for deleted files.
  4. Preview the data that the software can recover and select the files that you want to restore.
  5. Click Recover to restore your files to a safe location that you will be prompted to select.

How to recover deleted files on PC?

If you've been taking advantage of the File History backup feature, then you can recover deleted files in a few simple steps:

  1. Right-click the folder where your files were located.
  2. Select Show more options (Windows 11 only) and click the Restore previous versions option.
  3. Choose the most recent backup of the folder and click Open.
  4. Select the files you want to recover.
  5. Click the green restore button.

Are deleted files gone forever?

No, they are not, at least in most cases (TRIM-enabled SSDs are a notable exception). When you delete a file, it first goes to a special folder called the Recycle Bin. It then stays there until the Recycle Bin is emptied. When that happens, the storage space occupied by the files that were located inside the Recycle Bin is marked as empty, making it possible for new files to be stored there. Until that happens, the original files can still be recovered.

Where are permanently deleted files stored?

In most cases, permanently deleted files remain stored in their original locations until they are overwritten by new files. That can happen almost immediately, or it can take days, weeks, or even months. Until then, you can recover them using file recovery software applications.

How do I recover permanently deleted files on Windows 11?

If you’ve permanently deleted files from your Windows-based computer, you can use File History to restore the files. However, this will work only if you had this feature enabled before deleting the files.

Here’s how to recover permanently deleted files on Windows 11 via File History:

  1. Click the Start icon on the taskbar. Type file history in the search field and hit Enter.
  2. Choose Restore your files with File History.
  3. Click History. Use the arrows to navigate through different file versions to find the deleted file.
  4. Select the files that you wish to restore and click Restore.

How can I recover permanently deleted files without backup?

You can use the Attrib command to recover files that appear to be permanently deleted because their file attributes have been changed:

  1. Open Windows Terminal with administrator privileges.
  2. Copy & paste the following command into the terminal window: attrib-h-r-s /s /d X:*.* (make sure to replace "X" with the actual drive letter assigned to your storage device)
  3. Press Enter and check if any files have been revealed.

Can System Restore recover deleted files?

Unfortunately, no. System Restore can only help to recover accidentally deleted important Windows system files. So if you want to recover personal files (photos, videos, documents, etc.), this tool will not be an option.

Find out how to recover deleted files

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