By Stephanie / Last update May 17, 2022

What is file recovery in Windows 10?

Any of us could encounter data loss in the technological era, because important data is stored in kinds of devices, like computers, phones, USB flash disks, etc. It could be a frustrating thing when you accidentally delete documents or files that you need.

It’s easy to find them back if you have backup files in cloud storage, like Google Drive, Dropbox, or One Drive. If not, a file recovery tool for Windows 10 could be the best choice to help you restore deleted files.

File recovery in Windows 10 aims to recover corrupted or deleted data from a variety of storage devices. Microsoft has released a free Windows file recovery tool for Windows 10 in 2020. This file recovery software helps users recover documents, photos, videos, and more. Go to find out how to install and use this file recovery tool for Windows 10/11.

How to install Windows file recovery tool?

Windows File Recovery, as a command prompt application, currently is available for Windows 10 2004 and later, Windows 8/7/XP/Vista is not supported. You could use this app to attempt to recover deleted files that cannot be restored from the Recycle Bin from your local storage devices. Cloud storage and network file shares are not included.

You could download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store app built-in on your Windows 10 computer, or the official Microsoft website. In addition, you'll need a Microsoft account to download and install it.


After installing Windows File Recovery on the computer, you'll be presented with a Command Prompt window that could be complex for users who are not familiar with CMD.

You could also use other command-line apps, such as Windows Terminal and PowerShell with Administrator privileges. Right-click the one you want to use in the Start menu and choose "Run as Administrator."

How to use Windows File Recovery for Windows 10/11?

With a command-line interface, the Windows File Recovery tool is more difficult to use than other paid data recovery software. You need to run the specific command, which is winfr, to target the drive to search for the deleted files, the destination to save it to, and the various switches that control what and how the tool searches.

Remember that the deleted file must be saved to a different drive. Here is the basic command format:

winfr source-drive: destination-folder [/mode] [/switches]

There are three modes to choose from: Default, Segment (/r), and Signature (/x). The fastest mode is Default, while Segment is similar but slower and more thorough.

Signature mode allows you to search for files by type, including ASF, JPEG, MP3, MPEG, PDF, PNG, and ZIP files. The mode you choose depends on the file systems of your storage device and data loss scenarios.

Step 1. Confirm what kind of file system your source drive is. Default only supports NTFS. Segment and Signature support NTFS, ReFS, FAT, and exFAT.    

File system


FAT and exFAT

SD cards, flash or USB drives (


Computers (HDD, SSD), external hard drives, flash or USB drives (> 4GB)

Step 2. Check the data loss scenarios.

File system


Recommended mode


Deleted recently



Deleted a while ago

Segment, signature


After formatting a disk

Segment, signature


A corrupted disk

Segment, signature

FAT and exFAT



Step 3. Adding parameter (Switches) according to your needs. You could check the detailed parameter in Microsoft official support.

Some commands for example:
Example 1. If you want to recover the specific document from C: drive to E: drive

(Path: \Users\Documents\FileRecovery.docx)

The command line: winfr C: E: /n \Users\Documents\ FileRecovery.docx

Example 2. If you want to recover PDF and docx document from C: drive to E: drive

The command line: winfr C: E: /r /n *.pdf /n *.docx

Example 3. If you want to recover ZIP files from C: drive to the Recovery folder on E: drive

The command line: winfr C: E:\Recovery /x /y:ZIP

Best Windows File Recovery alternative

Windows File Recovery could be a useful tool for anyone who has accidentally deleted an important document or accidentally wiped a drive clean. But users will encounter kinds of problems when using this file recovery tool. The biggest one is the complexity of the command line. Besides, it couldn't support Windows 7 and Windows 8. 

It’s highly recommended to use AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows. It offers a simple graphic user interface and helps users to restore more than 200 file types, including images, videos, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, etc. Users could recover deleted files in Windows 10/11 with simple clicks.

★Key feature of AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows:
Keep the original path and name of deleted files. 
It supports two kinds of scanning methods to find more lost data.
Fast scanning speed and a high success rate of recovery.
Compatible with Windows 7/8/10/11 and Windows Server. 
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Download and launch AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows on your computer. Select a partition and click "Start Scan".


Step 2. The software runs the scanning process from quick scan to deep scan to find deleted files and other missing files in this partition.


Step 3. During scanning, you can restore the files that you need. Select the file or the folder that you want to retrieve and click "Recover files".


To sum up

Although the free file recovery software does not provide a 100% guarantee that your data will be recovered if it was accidentally deleted due to an error, bug, or virus, the chance of recovering your deleted files is high.

Because not everyone could understand the command prompt, it’s advised to use Windows File Recovery GUI to recover deleted or lost files on Windows 10/11. If you lost the entire partition and its data, Windows File Recovery couldn’t give you a hand. You could try AOMEI Partition Assistant to recover lost or deleted partitions.