Comprehensive Guide: How to Find Lost PDF Files?

Don’t know how to find lost PDF files? This article gathers several possible reasons and multiple methods to perform PDF recovery. Check it out!


By Lora / Updated on April 3, 2024

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“How do I find a PDF that disappeared?”

PDF files, also known as Portable Document Format files, are widely used in everyday life. People create, edit, read, and share PDF files while working and studying.

It can be said that PDF files are very critical, and PDF document loss can bring a big disaster.

However, many users sometimes find PDF files missing from their hard drives while editing and sharing.


PDF files missing after the most Recent Windows 10 Update


All my PDFs seem lost, same with office documents.
Neither program would open.


- Question from Microsoft Community


Recovering accidentally deleted pdf files.


How can I recover the pdf files I deleted from windows 7? I also emptied my recycle bin.


- Question from Microsoft Community


Except for accidentally deleting files from Windows and faulty updates, you may have encountered other situations from which we can find out the reasons behind PDF document loss.


Why has my PDF disappeared?

Are you also wondering: “Why does my PDF disappear?” Several culprits can lead to a missing PDF issue.

Deletion. You may have mistakenly removed the wrong files while organizing your data. 
Recycle Bin emptying. If you have activated Storage Sense or manually emptied the Recycle Bin, you cannot recover deleted files from Recycle Bin directly. 
Virus. If your computer is virus-infected, your files might get deliberately hidden/deleted/moved/encrypted. 
Faulty updates. Some users have discovered files missing after the Windows update. If so, you may need to uninstall the malfunctioned update files.

In the next section, we will find lost PDF files in multiple ways.

PDF files disappear: how to find lost PDF files?

Check out the relevant solutions to recover PDF files.

Method 1. Search for PDF files in File Explorer

First of all, before trying to “recover” deleted or missing PDF files, it would be better for you to try searching for them again in File Explorer.

Step 1. Start This PC > type pdf in the search box > press Enter > Search Tools.

Step 2SearchKind > click Document/input kind:document in the search box.


Step 3. Thus you can view all the documents on your device. Try locating all the files ending with a .pdf extension.


Method 2. Show hidden files/folders

As you have learned, viruses can hide your files silently. You could unhide them in some easy steps and access them.

It is not suggested to show system-protected files to avoid misoperation. 
Windows 7 users can refer to the guide to show hidden files in Windows 7.

>> Start This PC > go to the PDF files’ original location > View > Options > ViewShow hidden files, folders, and drives.


Method 3. Perform PDF recovery from Recycle Bin

How to find lost PDF files if searching is of no help? If no PDF files were found using the last two methods, they are likely to be lost/deleted.

You can try recovering them from the Recycle Bin first.

If deleted PDF files are not in Recycle Bin, it indicates that the PDF docs are permanently removed. Please head over to the following methods.

>> Go to Recycle Bin > locate the deleted PDF files > right-click them > click Restore.


Method 4. Recover PDF files from File History

How to recover deleted PDF files if they were deleted? The Windows machines are equipped with tools to help users retrieve their deleted/lost/damaged/corrupted files. One of them is File History.

It records the changes you made every hour (by default); thus, you can get data back whenever you like, e.g., your data was deleted/corrupted/lost/damaged, etc.

But it is like a backup tool, requiring users to activate it in advance.

Step 1. Start Control Panel > System and Security.


Step 2. Click File History.


Step 3. Click Restore personal files.


Step 4. Go to the file location of the PDF files > select the PDF files > click Recover.


Thus you can recover PDF files. Also, you can recover deleted Word documents using it.

Method 5. Restore previous versions of the upper folder

If the PDF files were previously saved in a specific folder, you could use the Previous Versions feature to revert to an earlier status.

This feature stores the files copies of your C: drive files using restore points and File History.

Every time you make some significant modification to the system, a restore point will be generated. Combined with the File History, you will have a big chance to perform a successful PDF recovery.

Step 1. Start This PC > locate the parent folder of the PDF files.

Step 2. Right-click this folder > click Restore previous versions > choose a preferred version > Restore. Except for folders, you can also restore previous versions of files to get back an overwritten file.


If these backup-required methods do not suit your situation, you may need to find another way to recover PDF files without backups. Check out the next part.

Method 6. Find lost PDF files quickly and readily

Windows inbuilt tools like File History and Previous Versions require backups. If there are no available backups with you, how to find lost PDF files if they are permanently gone?

Instead of paying a high price to send the hard drive to a data recovery service, users might as well turn to a professional data recovery tool for Windows – MyRecover.

It is developed by a sophisticated team with over 10 years of experience. Supported by this team, it is equipped with advanced scanning techs and algorithms, facilitating users to perform PDF recovery in a breeze.

Using it, you can get help in different aspects.

Perform PDF recovery in a breeze
  • Perform data recovery after deletion, formatting, Recycle Bin emptying, virus infection, etc.
  • Restore deleted and lost files from internal/external HDD/SSD/USB/SD card, etc.
  • 200+ recoverable data types, including pdf, doc, txt, ppt, xlsx, jpg, png, avi, mov, wav, zip, etc.
  • Select files to restore during the scanning process.
  • Available in Windows 11/10/8/7/Server.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Follow the detailed instructions to learn how to recover deleted PDF files in only 3 simple steps.

Step 1. Install and run MyRecover > Hover the mouse over the drive saved deleted files before, and click Scan.


Step 2. Input extensions and filenames to target your wanted PDF files in the search box.


Step 3. Go to Deleted files > navigate to the original location > and select the PDF files> click Recover x files


This powerful tool can also help you recover PDF files from formatted hard drives.

Minimize data loss risk

In this article, you can learn how to find lost PDF files after deletion, Recycle Bin emptying, viruses, or malfunctioned updating.

But these are far from enough. If you are eager to minimize or avoid data loss risk in the future, you would better take some measures and precautions.

  • Prevent emptying the Recycle Bin too frequently.
  • Stay away from untrusted websites and emails.
  • Use antivirus to protect your device from viruses and malware.
  • Back up your critical data in different places using a professional data backup tool for Windows.
Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.