By Ivy / Last update December 13, 2021

Avoid writing anything to your hard drive

This is very important. When files get deleted, they are not truly gone. deleted files are still on your hard drive waiting to be overwritten. If the physical space your lost files stored on gets overwritten, then you have a very low chance of recovering your data.

Therefore, you should stop writing any files to the drive that the lost files occupied. It is also recommended to power off the computer immediately because the longer the computer runs, then the less likely you can have all your files recovered.

There are 4 methods you can try. You should not restore the files to the original location, because if it fails you may have less chance to restore lost files using the next method.

If you are still worried the risk of trying to recover data by yourself, you can backup your hard drive sector by sector. Sector by sector backup will backup the used sector which the deleted files occupied.

Check Recycle Bin

The first place you should consider is Recycle Bin. The regularly deleted files are saved in Recycle Bin as a safety measure. In Recycle Bin, you can select the items that you want to restore and click the icon Restore the selected items in the upper-left corner. You can also right click on the item and select Restore.

Restore Deleted Files Recycle Bin

If you do not see your files there, you may have empty the Recycle Bin or you have permanently deleted the files by Press Shift + Delete. In that case, try the next method.

Restore files from Windows Previous Versions

Windows likely have taken several shadow copies of your drives, which you probably do not know of. By default, system protection is enabled and it will create restore points (also known as shadow copies) on certain occasions.

With these shadow copies, you can restore your permanently deleted files to previous versions. For example, to restore files saved on Desktop, follow the steps below:

1.   Locate the folder in File Explorer.

2.   Right click on the folder and select Properties.

3.   Click on the Previous Versions tab, and then you can see all the available versions. If no previous versions listed, then system protection may have been turned off.

4.   Select the right version you want to restore and select Restore to instead of Restore.

Restore to

5.   Select a USB flash drive or other removable storage devices to receive the restored files just in case this method cannot restore all of your deleted files.

If you cannot remember where the deleted files’ location, you can download the free tool Shadow Explorer that will show you all recorded files. From there, you can easily select the deleted files to recover.

Shadow Explorer

Note: you should download the portable version on the removable device. If you install the freeware on your hard drive, there is a chance that the installation will overwrite the files that you need to recover, which decrease the chance of a successful recovery.

Use free recovery tool

If you have no luck with Previous Versions or some of your files are not recovered, then you can try free data recovery tool Recuva. As mentioned before, you should download the portable version of Recuva and run it from a removable drive.

Once you download them to your flash drive or CD, then you can run the portable version to recover your data. You need to specify the file type and location. The more specific you are, the higher chance you have to restore deleted files.

If you let Recuva scan the whole hard drive, the scan process may take much longer time and less likely to find the files that you want to recover.

Scan Deleted Files

When the scan is complete, it will list all recoverable items. From there, you can check the items that you want to recover.

List View

Note: Do not recover to the original location as it may overwrite the deleted files. You can never be more careful about data recovery.

Hand it to Data Recovery Professionals

If the methods above cannot restore your files, you do not have any valid backups, and the data lost are very valuable to you, then you should consider data recovery service. Then you should avoid using your computer right now.

data recovery services can be extremely expensive. It may cost you hundreds or more dollars. In addition, there is no guarantee that such services can restore all your deleted files. If you desperately want to restore deleted data, this is an available option.

Avoid worrying about deleted files

Besides accidental file deletion, there are many factors that can cause data loss, such as hard drive failure, ransomware virus affection, system crash, etc. Since these things are unexpected, the best way to protect your data is to perform backups regularly.

You can use free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard to backup your entire hard drive or some important folders, and then keep creating incremental backups or differential backups as frequently as you like.

AOMEI Backupper comes with very simple and effective interface and leaves little room for user error. It only needs 5 steps to create scheduled disk backup task. Select Disk Backup under the Backup tab, select source disk to be backed up, select a location to receive the image backup, specify backup frequency, and Start the backup.

Disk Backup

Besides running backups at a specific time daily, weekly, or monthly, you can also run scheduled backups upon a certain event.

Schedule Backup

Incremental backup or differential backup only backups newly added or changed items, which save much time and disk space.

Obviously, it is much easier to restore deleted files from an image backup than recover files from data recovery tools. With AOMEI Backupper schedule backup, you can set it and forget it. When you lose some data or have system issues, you can restore the backup and everything back to normal.