Recovering Deleted Files on Windows 7
Sooner or later, everyone deletes a file which they wish to recover. Recovering deleted files on Windows 7 systems is often possible, but it requires a gentle touch and a bit of luck. Here are some things try when you want to recover a deleted file...
How To Recover Deleted Files
"Wait... I didn't mean to delete that file!" It happens to everyone... a stray mouse click or fumbling fingers, and the document or spreadsheet you just spent hours creating is gone. Or maybe not.
First, look in the Recycle Bin. When you "delete" a file, it is moved to the Recycle Bin and not erased permanently. Double-click on the Recycle Bin icon to open a window that displays the Bin's contents. Click on the item you want to recover to highlight it and then click "Restore this item" on the menu bar. The file will be restored to its previous location. When no items are selected you will see the menu option to "restore all files." This trick will not work if you have recently emptied the Recycle Bin.
If you made a backup copy of all your data before deleting a file, the file may be recovered from the backup. Use the Restore function of your backup program to locate and restore a specific file. If you used Windows 7 Backup and Restore, here is the procedure for restoring a file from backup:
- Click the Start button, then Control Panel, then System and Maintenance, and finally Backup and Restore.
- Click "Restore my files" and follow the steps provided in the wizard to specify which file(s) to restore.
More File Recovery Tools
The System Restore function of Windows 7 provides another way to recover a deleted file. The nice part is that you may be able to recover versions of a file that you did not back up. That's because Windows automatically creates System Restore Points during certain major operations, such as installing new software. The Restore Points are essentially backup copies of files, folders, and settings. Here is how to restore a file from a System Restore Point:
- Click the Start button, then click Computer to display the drives on your machine.
- Click on a drive and navigate its folder tree to the folder that contained the deleted file.
- Right-click on the folder and select "restore previous version" from the drop-down menu.
- Select the most recent Restore Point (or Windows Backup) file and click "Restore."
Note that you must be in the folder where the desired file was actually stored, not in a Library folder. Libraries are not actual folders on your hard drive but simply indexes of files and the folders in which they are actually stored.
If these methods fail, you may still be able to recover a deleted file using a free third-party data recovery program such as Recuva or FreeUndelete. Such programs can recover files that have been emptied from the Recycle Bin (or deleted in such a way that the Recycle Bin was not involved), but only as long as the disk space occupied by the file has not been overwritten.
That's where a bit of luck and the gentle touch come into play. The longer you wait before attempting to recover a deleted file, the less your chances of getting it back in one piece. That's because the space occupied by deleted files is marked as available, and can be overwritten when you create or save a new file, download from the Internet, or by various operating system functions.
Do you have experience with recovering deleted files? Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Mar 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Recovering Deleted Files on Windows 7 (Posted: 23 Mar 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved