If you have ever accidentally deleted a file or deleted the contents of a file, you know that it can be incredibly frustrating, and it’s even more frustrating when it’s something you have been working on for days, weeks, or even months. Fortunately, deleting a file may not be the end of the world. In fact, in many cases the file is hiding in the recycle bin and can be easily retrieved.
Look in the Recycle Bin
Just double-click on the Recycle Bin or trashcan and you can see everything that's inside. Did you find what you thought you had deleted? Simply drag it back onto your desktop, and you are good to go. If it's not in your trashcan, then there are a number of other things you can try to recover a deleted file.
Hopefully you have been doing backups. If so, you can recover an earlier version of your file through the recovery service in backup. It might be a day old, but it’s better to lose a day than lose everything.
How to Recover Deleted Files Using File History
If you are not doing backups, hopefully you have turned on File History Backup. If you're running Windows* 10, select the Start button, select Settings > Update & security > Backup > Add a drive, and then choose an external drive or network location for your backups.
To Restore That Important Missing File or Folder:
- Type Restore files in the search box on the taskbar, and then select Restore your files with File History.
- Look for the file you need, then use the arrows to see all its versions.
- When you find the version you want, select Restore to save it in its original location. To save it in a different place, press and hold (or right-click) Restore, select Restore to, and then choose a new location.
If you don’t have any backups and your file is not in the trash, you might want to try one of the many file recovery programs out there, either a free one or a commercial app like Piriform Recuva*, or Stellar Data Recover*.
Another option is Disk Drill*, a recovery tool originally designed for Mac* and now available for Windows. It offers help with partition loss, hard drive reformatting, failed boot-ups, accidental deletions, and more.
Another possibility to consider: Have you emailed the file to anyone? Have you saved a copy on a cloud-based service like DropBox*, iCloud*, or SkyDrive*? If so, you might be able to grab a copy from there. Again, even if you lose the most recent changes, it is better than nothing.
However you approach it, there are lots of options to explore after you realize you have accidentally deleted a photo, document, spreadsheet, report, or other file. And get those backups going too, so next time you need to find a deleted file, you have more options.
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