How to Recover Files Deleted from the Recycle Bin

Accidentally deleting important files can cause serious problems. The Windows Recycle Bin is designed to protect you from losing data, but what can you do if you have emptied the Bin and your files are gone? We are going to show you several ways to perform a Recycle Bin recovery. We recommend Disk Drill as the best option to recover files deleted from the Recycle Bin.

recycle bin recovery free

Is Recycle Bin Recovery Possible?

In a word, yes. When the Windows operating system deletes an item, it does not physically remove it from your storage media. Though you can’t see or access the data, it can be recovered even after you empty the Recycle Bin. The key is to recover files deleted from the Recycle Bin before they are overwritten by new data. To accomplish this goal, you should stop using your computer until after you are finished restoring your lost files. We will present several methods to recover files that have been deleted from the Recycle Bin if you act quickly.

Methods to Recover Deleted Files From the Recycle Bin


Recover Deleted Files from the Recycle Bin After Emptying (with software)

Here are the steps necessary to recover files from an empty Recycle Bin using reliable data recovery software. Disk Drill is a professional-grade application that offers average users access to sophisticated data recovery tools. Remember to act quickly before your operating system overwrites your valuable data with new information.

1. Download Disk Drill for Windows and install it

Download and install Disk Drill on an external storage device since you will be recovering from the Recycle Bin which lives on your main hard drive. Installing the software on your main drive may overwrite the data you wish to recover.

  • how to recover deleted files from recycle bin

    Download Disk Drill for Windows

  • recover files deleted from recycle bin

    Install the app

  • recover recycle bin

    Open Disk Drill

2. Launch Disk Drill and analyze storage device

Launch Disk Drill and select the drive for recovery from the disk list. To recover files from an emptied Recycle Bin, choose your computer’s main hard drive.

How to Recover Files from a Hard Drive

Launch Disk Drill and analyze storage device

3. Search for lost files

Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning the disk for deleted files. A progress bar located at the top of the application shows the current status of the scan. You have the flexibility to pause and resume the scan at your convenience.

Recover Deleted or Lost Partitions Fast

Search for lost files

4. Preview the found files

Preview the files that are available for recovery. You can filter scan results so you only see the types of files you are interested in recovering. Choose a new storage location that is not on the disk that contains the Recycle Bin to avoid file corruption or data being overwritten.

Preview the found files

5. Restore deleted files from Recycle Bin

Click the Recover button to restore the selected items. When the process is complete, you will have your lost files back and can start using your computer again without worrying about overwriting the deleted data.

Restore deleted files from Recycle Bin

cleverfiles PROTECT

Protecting Files From Accidentally Emptying the Recycle Bin

The best free Recycle Bin recovery method is protecting your files in advance with Disk Drill for Windows. It offers a simple genius Recovery Vault method so that you never lose any files again. This method works on FAT32 and NTFS. With Recovery Vault enabled all your deleted files are thoroughly tracked and whenever you see the important file is missing, just go to "Undelete Protected Data" option of Disk Drill.

restore recycle bin

Other Methods to Restore Deleted Files from the Recycle Bin


Recover Directly from the Recycle Bin

If you have not emptied it, you can perform a restoration from the Recycle Bin with this procedure.

Step 1. Open the Recycle Bin by clicking its icon.
Step 2. Locate the files you wish to restore. They will be recovered to their original location which is displayed in the Recycle Bin.
Step 3. Click on the Restore button to recover the files.

Recover directly from the Recycle Bin

Restore Files Deleted from the Recycle Bin with Previous Versions

Windows saves previous versions of a file when it creates a restore point. Try these steps to attempt this type of recovery.
Step 1. Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder that contained the lost files before they were sent to the Recycle Bin.
Step 2. Right-click on the item you would like to recover and select Restore previous versions.
Step 3. Choose the version of the file you would like to recover and click the Restore button.

Restore Files Deleted From the Recycle Bin With Previous Versions

Recover Files Deleted from the Recycle Bin with the Command Prompt

You may be able to recover deleted files by using the command line on your system. Try these steps:

Step 1. Open a Command Prompt on your Windows machine.
Step 2. Type chkdsk "drive letter": /f and press Enter:
chkdsk D: /f
Step 3. Press Y until the command line reappears.
Step 4. Type the drive letter and hit Enter.
Step 5. Enter this command:
ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D D:*.*

These commands display hidden folders that may contain your lost data. Filenames will be displayed in generic form, making it hard to determine if the files you wanted have been recovered.

Recover Files Deleted From the Recycle Bin With the Command Prompt

Use Backup Media to Recover Files Deleted from the Recycle Bin

Depending on the Windows version you are running, different methods are used with the native backup and restore capabilities built into the OS.

Method 6

Retrieve Deleted Files from a Cloud Backup

Windows comes with a cloud backup tool called OneDrive. When enabled, one can back up all files stored in your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders, as well as everything you place inside the dedicated OneDrive folder.

Files backed up by OneDrive are stored on Microsoft’s servers, and you can recover them from anywhere by following the steps below:

  1. Go to:
  2. Log in with your Microsoft email address and password.
  3. Navigate to the folder where your files were stored.
  4. Select all files you want to recover by hovering your mouse cursor over them and clicking on the checkbox that appears in the top-right corner.
  5. Click the Download button to retrieve the deleted files to your device.
Retrieve Deleted Files from a Cloud Backup
Method 7

Use the Windows File Recovery Tool to Recover Your Files

Microsoft provides its own data recovery software tool, called Windows File Recovery. While not nearly as easy to use or capable as Disk Drill, you should still consider giving Windows File Recovery a try because the software can recover an unlimited amount of data for free, and it works with Windows 10 build 19041 and above.

To recover permanently deleted files using the latest version of Windows File Recovery:

  1. Download Windows File Recovery from Microsoft Store.
  2. Open Windows Terminal.
  3. Use the following syntax to recover your files:
    winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]
  4. Wait for Windows File Recovery to finish scanning.
Use the Windows File Recovery Tool to Recover Your Files

Windows File Recovery supports two modes of operation:

  • Regular (/regular): Used to recover recently deleted files from the NTFS file system.
  • Extensive (/extensive): Used to recover permanently deleted files from NTFS, FAT, and exFAT file systems.

Available switches include:

  • /signature: Looks for deleted files using file headers.
  • /k: Recovers lost system files.
  • /u: Retrieves undeleted files from the Recycle Bin and other locations.
  • /n: Scans for a specific file using its name, file path, or file type.

For more information about the various modes and switches supported by Windows File Recovery, read the official documentation.

Here are two examples of how the above-described modes and switches can be combined to address specific data loss scenarios:

Recover lost Word files stored on drive C to drive E:

Winfr C: E: /regular /n *.docx

Recover any file with the word “vacation” in its name:

Winfr C: E: /extensive /n *vacation*


Note: The Summer 2020 release of Windows File Recovery uses slightly different syntax and switches.


Try the CTRL + Z Keyboard Shortcut

The CTRL + Z keyboard shortcut is used across the entire Windows operating system to undo the last action. While the shortcut won’t help you get back files that were permanently deleted from the Recycle Bin, you can use it to instantly restore an accidentally deleted file in File Explorer or any other file manager. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure File Explorer is selected.
  2. Press and hold the CTRL key and then press the Z key.
  3. Release both keys.

You can repeat the CTRL + Z keyboard shortcut to go further back in the history of your actions. This way, you can get back multiple files or retrieve a file that was deleted not that recently.

Unfortunately, the Windows operating system forgets the history of past actions with every restart, so this method definitely won’t help you if your computer has been restarted since the data loss incident.

Try the CTRL + Z Keyboard Shortcut

How to Avoid Losing the Recycle Bin Content

The Recycle Bin is an important safety net where deleted files are temporarily moved to give users a chance to recover them. This safety net, however, doesn’t replace proper backups because its content can disappear for the following reasons:

Physical hard drive damage

Physical hard drive damage

The primary Recycle Bin folder is stored on the system drive, so if the system drive becomes physically damaged the Recycle Bin folder won’t be accessible anymore.

Recycle Bin running out of space

Recycle Bin running out of space

There’s only a certain amount of storage space reserved by Windows for the Recycle Bin. When the size of the Recycle Bin folder exceeds this allocated amount, newly deleted files won’t be added to the Recycle Bin. Instead, they will become permanently deleted.

System cleanup

System cleanup

When you perform a system cleanup using the Disk Cleanup feature in Windows or a third-party tool, the Recycle Bin is typically emptied to free up storage space.


To avoid losing the Recycle Bin content because of the above-described and other reasons, you should regularly create full system backups and store the most important files in the cloud (Microsoft OneDrive is a great option for Windows users).

Tips for Making Better Use of the Recycle Bin

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How do I recover permanently deleted files from the Recycle Bin?

To recover permanently deleted files (those not present in the Recycle Bin), you can check your backups, such as those created using the File History tool on Windows. If you don’t have any backups or if they don’t contain your files, then you can try data recovery software like Disk Drill:

  1. Download and install a Disk Drill on a non-system drive.
  2. Select your system hard drive and initiate a scan.
  3. Preview recoverable files and select those you need.
  4. Choose a safe recovery location (not the original drive).

How to recover your data after emptying the Recycle Bin?

Use these steps to recover data from an empty Recycle Bin:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Launch the app and select the disk that contains the Recycle Bin.
  3. Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning.
  4. Preview found files and choose those to be recovered.
  5. Click Recover to restore the files.

How do I recover files from the Windows 10 Recycle Bin?

Recover deleted files from the Windows 10 Recycle Bin with these steps:

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by clicking its icon.
  2. Locate the items you wish to recover.
  3. Select the files or folders for recovery by highlighting their checkbox.
  4. Right-click and choose Restore to recover the data to its original location.

How do I recover files from the Windows 11 Recycle Bin?

To recover files from the Windows 11 Recycle Bin:

  1. Locate the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and double-click it.
  2. Select each file you want to recover (you can either click and drag with your mouse or hold the Shift key while clicking on individual files).
  3. Either click and drag the selected files to a safe location outside the Recycle Bin or right-click any selected file and choose the Restore option to move the selected files to their original locations.

How to recover deleted Recycle Bin items without software?

To recover deleted files from the Recycle Bin without software:

  1. Open the Start menu and type "file history".
  2. Choose the "Restore your files with File History" option.
  3. Navigate to the location where your deleted Recycle Bin items were last located.
  4. Use the arrows at the bottom to display backups of the location you’ve just navigated to.
  5. Select backed up copies of your Recycle Bin items and click the green "Restore" button to restore them without software.

Fixing deleted items missing from the Windows Recycle Bin?

Items may not appear in the Recycle Bin for several reasons. The system may be set up to skip the bin and permanently delete data. In this case, you need to enable the Recycle Bin by right-clicking on its icon and selecting Properties. You might need to add space to the Bin so it can handle large files.

Can I use Disk Drill to recover deleted files for free?

Yes, you can. The free trial version of Disk Drill enables you to recover up to 500 MB of data before upgrading to the pro version of the software. This is the best way to discover the power and intuitive ease of operation of the tool by performing a real data recovery without any financial commitment.

Can you recover deleted files after emptying the Recycle Bin?

Yes you can, with Disk Drill data recovery software. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Download, install, and launch the free version of Disk Drill.
  2. Select the disk that contained the Recycle Bin from the app’s list of available devices.
  3. Click the Search for lost data button to start the scanning algorithms.
  4. Preview the recoverable data and select the files you want to restore.
  5. Click the Recover button to perform the recovery. The free Windows version of Disk Drill lets you restore up to 500 MB for free.

Where do deleted files go after the Recycle Bin?

When files are emptied from the Recycle Bin, they aren't immediately erased but the space they occupied is marked as available. The files themselves may still exist until that space is overwritten. However, if you're using an SSD with TRIM technology, deleted data might be proactively erased. In either case, backups are your best protection against permanent data loss.

How do I undo emptying the Recycle Bin?

You can undo emptying the Recycle Bin by restoring your lost files through Windows File History. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Start menu and type “file history”.
  2. Choose the Restore your files with File History option.
  3. Find and select your files from all the backed up folders.
  4. Now, click the green Restore button.

How do I get my Recycle Bin back?

If the Recycle Bin icon isn’t showing up on your desktop, you can follow these steps:

  1. Select the Start button, then select Settings.
  2. Select Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.
  3. Select the Recycle Bin checkbox, then click Apply.

How to Change the Space Allocated to the Recycle Bin?

Use this procedure to change the space allocated to the Recycle Bin.

  1. Right-click on the Recycle Bin and select Properties.
  2. Modify the value in the Custom size field to the amount of space you prefer.
  3. Click Apply.

How to Show or "Unhide" the Recycle Bin Program/Icon?

Use these steps to show or unhide the Recycle Bin Icon.

  1. Select the Start button, then select Settings.
  2. Select Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.
  3. Select the Recycle Bin check box > Apply.

How to Stop Windows From Instantly Deleting Files?

You can stop Windows from instantly deleting files by activating the deletion confirmation dialog box. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the Recycle Bin and select properties.
  2. Open the General Tab.
  3. Check the box next to Display delete confirmation dialog.

Is the Recycle Bin permanent?

Yes, the Recycle Bin is a permanent location on your Windows computer. It acts as a temporary storage area for deleted files. Typically, files remain in the Recycle Bin for 30 days before permanent deletion, but this period can be adjusted. You have the option to restore deleted files from the Recycle Bin or empty it manually at any time.

How long does the Recycle Bin keep files?

By default, the Recycle Bin keeps files for 30 days, after which they are deleted permanently. However, you can adjust this time period by changing the Recycle Bin's storage settings. It's also important to note that the so-called permanent deletion isn't always actually permanent. File recovery programs and backups make it possible to recover deleted files even if they’re no longer in the Recycle Bin.

Deleted important files on Mac OS X? Get Trash recovery software for Mac

Find out how to recover deleted files

Disk recovery university

Customers and software guru say

With Disk Drill I gained hours and hours of work. The overview of the scanned locations is so clear that it was very easy to find my lost document (I already deleted the trash).
Read more
«Disk Drill is a free tool for finding and recovering anything from whole partitions to accidentally deleted files» by Mike Williams
Read more
Used by world famous companies