Recovering Deleted Files on Windows 10

Category: Backup , Windows-10

'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. Here are some things to try when you want to recover a deleted file...

How To Recover Deleted Files

Once in a while, everyone deletes a file which they wish to recover. Recovering deleted files on Windows 10 systems is often possible, but it requires a gentle touch and a bit of luck.

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 Recycle 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.

Recover Deleted Files on Windows 10

More File Recovery Tools

The File History and System Restore functions of Windows 10 provide other ways to recover a file that was deleted or accidentally modified. The nice part is that you may be able to recover versions of a file that you did not back up, even if they are days or weeks older. If you have activated File History, it will automatically make multiple backup copies of your important files. Windows also 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.

See my article What is File History? for help setting up and configuring File History. (The article references Windows 8, but it applies equally on a Windows 10 computer.) You may also want to read Try System Restore for Windows 10 for help turning on System Restore.

Here is how to restore a deleted file that Windows has saved with File History or System Restore:

  • Click the Start button, type This PC and press Enter to display the drives on your computer.
  • 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 desired file and click Restore

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 one of the others mentioned in 10 Free Tools to Recover Deleted Files. 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...

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Most recent comments on "Recovering Deleted Files on Windows 10"

Posted by:

James J Steinis
06 Mar 2020

Please, install Recuva before you need it.

Posted by:

06 Mar 2020

Good point, James.

Another great argument for keeping data in a separate partition from the operating system!

Posted by:

Jay R
06 Mar 2020

I installed Recuva a pretty long time ago. I think someone named Bob suggested that I do this. It works.

Posted by:

07 Mar 2020

Back when I worked for a photo shop I had a lady come in in hysterics for she had deleted all her vacations pictures. I took her card and used Recuva to retrieve most all of her pictures. For some reason a few did not recover but she was more than happy. Haven't been without Recuva since.

Posted by:

12 Mar 2020

Note: During an archiving [aka imaging] operation Acronis TrueImage excludes files based on the following masks in Windows [User settable]:
System Volume Information
C:\Users\adm\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files
C:\Users\adm\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache
C:\Users\adm\AppData\Local\Opera Software
See list at

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