How to Recover Shortcut Files in Hard Drive on Windows 11/10/8/7

Want to know how to recover shortcut files in hard drive? This article talks about two effective solutions to retrieve shortcut files in hard drive. Go ahead!


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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How to recover shortcut files in external hard drive

I have thousands of files on my 1 TB external hard disk which have become shortcut after I connected it to the computer. It’s really annoying as I cannot open any file or folder after they turned into shortcut. I need to open and recover the shortcut files. Please help me?

- Question from Quora

Overview on shortcut files

A shortcut is a pointer to a file on your hard drive. This pointer creates a link to a program in any folder, start bar, taskbar, desktop, or elsewhere on your computer. So users can quickly open and find a file without going through the Start menu programs. Usually, it has a small arrow in the lower left corner of the icon, and the shortcut filename ends with a .lnk file extension.

However, sometimes, you find your folder/files on your computer hard drive or external hard drive (USB drive/pen drive, SD card) suddenly become a shortcut, and cannot be opened. Why does that happen? And how to recover shortcut files in hard drive to original. Follow the following content to find the answer. 

shortcut file

Why does your file become a shortcut file?

Before exploring solutions to recover shortcut files, let's take a look at the reasons behind this. Most of the time, your file being converted to a shortcut file is caused by a virus: the shortcut virus. And this virus can convert your original MB, GB size files into KB shortcut files. Worse yet, all of your files could be deleted.

So, how to recover shortcut files in external hard drive? In the next section, we will talk about two ways to restore shortcut files from hard drive. Let’s begin!

How to recover shortcut files in hard drive in Windows 7/8/10/11

📝Tip: When encountering a shortcut virus, you can try to format the hard disk or deep clean the computer to protect your drive. But before doing this, make sure you have backed up your drive.

There are multiple ways to recover shortcut files from a hard drive or USB. Here, we list out the top two methods on how to recover shortcut files in Windows 10/7/8/11.

Solution 1. How to recover shortcut files using CMD

The first is to use the Command Prompt. Windows has a command-line feature to check the health of hard drives. It can be used to find and recover hidden files in a computer hard disk, USB flash drive, pen drive, SD/memory card, or other external hard drives.

Follow the steps below to recover your shortcut files and learn how to convert shortcut file to original file on your PC.

Step 1. Enter cmd in the search bar, choose Run as administrator to open Command Prompt.

Step 2. Type chkdsk D:/f, press Enter. (D is the drive letter, change it with your drive letter.)

Step 3. Type Y and hit on Enter key, and Type D and press Enter key again. (Here D is drive letter, replace it with your drive letter from which data get deleted and inaccessible.)

Step 4. Now type the command attrib -h -r-s /s /d *.* and hit on Enter, this command will help you recover deleted files in this drive.

attrib cmd

You have now successfully recovered the shortcut file from the hard drive using the Windows Command Prompt. While this method works in most cases, it may not be a viable option for many users.

In fact, Command Prompt is a bit technical and can get tricky, and sometimes, even one difference in the commands written can cause data loss or worse. Therefore, for normal users, the next method is highly recommended.

Solution 2. The most efficient way to retrieve shortcut files in hard drive (GUI tool)

When it comes to data loss, MyRecover is the best choice. It is a safe and powerful software that can help you recover all lost or deleted files of any file type. With this tool, you can also know how to recover a deleted shortcut file from your hard drive.

What’s more, it can retrieve hundreds of types of files in original format. Whether it's data loss due to accidental deletion or virus attack, with it, you don't have to worry about not being able to get your files back.

Some of its powerful features make it a great achievement in data recovery:

🔥 Browse and select files: It allows you to browse and select files, enabling you to recover exactly what you want without redundant files.
❤️‍ Easy-to-use: It uses an intuitive and easy-to-use interface and only takes three simple steps to recover your lost or deleted files. And you don’t need to worry about further data loss due to incorrect operation.
💯 Advanced scanning technology: The combined scanning method of Quick Scan and Deep Scan helps to recover your data without any omissions.
💿 Highly-compatible: It works perfectly with NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, ReFS in Windows 11/10/8/7 and Windows Server, supports you to recover permanently deleted files from hard disk, or other internal/external hard drive.

Now, you can download this tool to find and recover your shortcut files easily.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

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

external hard drive start scan

Step 2. It will then start scanning your drive and display the missing files, and you can click on each folder to view specific files. You can see a progress bar below the scan, depending on the size of the file.

external hard drive scanning

Step 3. If you find the shortcut files you need, select them and click the Recover X files button to get them back.

select lost images to recover from usb


That’s all for how to recover shortcut files in hard drive. You can restore and convert the shortcut files to original files using the Command Prompt. But it is a bit difficult, especially for a green-hand. However, if you use a professional data recovery software, you can achieve twice the result with half the effort. Give it a try!

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.