10 Ways: Find a Missing or Lost File on Windows 10 or 11

Want to know how to find a missing file on Windows 10 or 11? This post will give you 8 ways to help you get the missing file back.


By Ellie / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Help! My file is missing on Windows 10

“I am running Windows 10 on an Acer Aspire laptop, and I have customized all my file icons for easy access. This morning when I went into my icons folder I found it’sI find it’sempty. I go to the folder but find that all of them are missing. Can anybody help me recover my missing files?All help and advice appreciated.” – Reddit

“Recently, I have been upgrading Windows 7 to a Windows 10 PC but found some of my files are missing. Is there any way to recover missing files in Windows 10?” – Microsoft

Have you ever encountered a file missing or lost on Windows 10? Don't worry about this much and I'll show you the possible cause as well as corresponding methods to get them back quickly. The same goes for Windows 11.

The possible cause for file missing or lost issue

You may encounter files missing or lost after upgrading to Windows 10 or 11 or when you are using it. Anyway, there are some possible reasons behind this issue:

  • Accidental deletion
  • Formatting 
  • File corruption
  • Hidden files
  • viruses or malware attack
  • logged into a temporary account
  •  stuck in a disabled administrator account
  • ...

How to find missing or lost files on Windows 10 or 11

There’s no denying that encountering file missing is kind of miserable and painful. Luckily, it usually can be found if we take some measures properly. Here in this part, we list 8 ways how to find a missing file or lost folder on Windows 10, 11.  

Way 1. Check the recent files

If you clearly remember that you didn’t delete your files, then the first place you can check is Recent Files in File Explorer. In general, the files you recently opened are listed in that section. Now follow me to operate.

Step 1. Open up File Explorer. You can search for it from the search bar if you have trouble locating it.

Open File Explorer

Step 2. By default, File Explorer opens at Quick Access, which includes a list of your Recent files below. Scroll down to check whether your missing files are here.

Quick Access

  • You can also type the file name in the search box to search it on your computer.  The search results will show up along with file locations, sizes, and data modified.

  • You can also search your computer by file type. For example, to search for all the .png images, type *.png in the search box.

  • Sometimes, your files may be hidden due to a virus. In this case, please select View > Options and check Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Way 2. Check the recent Items folder

Apart from checking in the Recent Files section, the missing files also can be found in the Recent Items folder. Go on and have a try.

Step 1. Open This PC on the desktop. Enter %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\ in the address bar. The Recent Items folder will open up. 

Item Folder

Step 2. Normally, the files in this folder are sorted by name. Therefore, to get the most recent items first, right-click on any empty space and select Sort by > Date modified.

Sort by Data

Step 3. Scroll down to see your files according to the date. You can also type in the filename or content of your files in the search box on the top right to look for this folder.

Way 3. Disable fast tartup 

Some people claim that Fast Startup sometimes may cause folders or files missing on Windows 10, and 11. For this reason, we can turn off it to see whether the files show up or not.

Step 1. In the search box, type in Power Options and then open it.

Power Options

Step 2. Click on Choose what the power button does.


Step 3. Click Change settings that are currently unavailable and scroll down to Shutdown settings.

Shut Down

Step 4. Uncheck Turn on fast startup (recommended) and click Save changes.

Uncheck Turn on Fast Startup

Step 5. Now check whether your missing file is back in its original place.

Way 4. Check indexing options

If random files and folders are disappearing on Windows 10, checking or changing index options is also a great choice.

Step 1. Press Win + S and type Indexing Options. SelectIndexing Optionsfrom the list of results.

Step 2. When the Indexing Optionswindow opens, click on Advanced.

Index Options

Step 3. Go to the Index Settingstab, and in the Troubleshootingsection click the Rebuild button.

Rebuild Button

Way 5. Check in the Recycle Bin

Sometimes you may delete your files accidentally but you don’tremember. For this reason, you could also check and restore missing files in Recycle Bin.

Step 1. Open theRecycle Binon the desktop.

Step 2. Locate the deleted files. Right-click and then select View> Details to locate your files.

Find Deleted Files in Recycle Bin

Or you can search the name of your deleted files in the search bar on the top and right corner of Recycle Bin window.

Step 3. Right-click on deleted files and click Restore.

Locate Deleted File in Recycle Bin

Then you will find the deleted files will be recovered to their original location.

Way 6. Find missing files using software 

If your files are deleted or in a formatted disk, the best way is to use powerful data recovery software like MyRecover. With its advanced algorithms, you are able to find all the deleted or lost files on Windows 10 or 11 easily, with a success rate of up to 95%.

Powerful software to recover missing or lost files quickly: 
  • Two advanced scanning algorithms: Quick Scan is to find deleted files while Deep Scan is to search other lost files. The latter takes a lot of time.
  • Compatible with multiple file types (e.g.: documents, images, videos, etc.) and 200+ file formats, such as Word, Excel, PPT, JPG, PNG, MP3, SVG, MP4, WMV, 3FR, X3F, ZIP, etc.
  • Highlight features: Filter & locate deleted or lost files on your drive quickly and preview them. Keep the recovered files with their original filename, format, quality, and path.
  • All-inclusive: Recover data from format, deletion, virus attacks, system crashes, etc.
  • Support almost all the Windows operating systems including Windows 11/10/8/7, etc., and servers.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Install MyRecover on your Windows computer and hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.

Select Partition to Scan

Step 2. The scanning process will start with a quick scan and deep scan to find all the missing files. You could perform data recovery during the scanning and you don't need to stop the scan.

Scan Lost Data

Step 3. Select the missing or lost files and click the Recover files button. You will then be asked to select a location. Please select a new location instead of the original location to prevent any data overwriting. 

Recover Lost Data


Way 7. Restore aprevious version of files

If you have ever enabled File History or Restore Point on your computer, then the recovery is available and easy. Now follow me to know the operations of how to find lost files or folders in Windows 10 .

Step 1.Right-click the new file, and selectProperties.

Step 2. Select thePrevious Versionstab, select the previous version according to the time, and then clickRestore.

File Properties

Way 8: Find disappeared files using backup

Windows 10 or 11 comes with a backup feature - Backup and Restore (Windows 7) to help you backup all the user data and save it to internal or external storage devices. If you have enable this feature, try to find disappeared files from it.

Step 1. Navigate to Control Panel > System and Security and select Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Then, click Restore my files.

Restore My Files

Step 2. In the Restore Files window, you can search or browse for files and folders to restore.

  • Search: type part of the name of files and select the deleted files to restore.
  • Browse for files: navigate to the folder containing deleted files from Recycle Bin and select it. Then, click Add Files.
  • Browse for folders: select the entire folder with deleted files.  

Step 3. Select a location to restore deleted files from Recycle Bin. You can choose original location or browse to new location. Then, click Start Restore.

Way 9: Sign out the temporary user profile

Sometimes, your computer may log into a temporary user profile after upgrading to Windows 10 or 11. It does not contain files from your primary account, making it seem as if your files have disappeared. You can restart your computer and log in to your primary account.

Way 10: Enable the old administrator account 

If you upgrade from a previous system to Windows 10 or 11 and create a new Microsoft account, your old account may be disabled, and your data will remain there. So please enable the old account and make the disappeared files visible. 

Step 1. Type computer management in the search box and select the top result.

Step 2. Expand the Local Users and Groups tab, double-click Users and Administrator (on the right side).

Step 3. Uncheck the Account is disabled option and click Apply > OK to confirm it.

Step 4. Restart your computer and sign in using the administrator account.

Final words

For how to find a missing file on Windows 10, and Windows 11, we list 8 easy ways to get them back. Of course, if you don’t waste too much time or energy finding them, AOMEI Data Recovery could quickly help you retrieve the files.

Moreover, after the file missing experience, I guess you may not want to experience it again, indicating the importance of backup. To back up files, you could try AOMEI Backupper, a free & secure Windows backup tool, with which you can back up all the things you want and making a schedule for automatic backup is also available and convenient.

Ellie · Editor
Ellie, a professional and experienced writer who is good at solving iOS-related problems and writing iOS backup/transfer tips.