By Lora / Last update May 12, 2022

What is Windows File Recovery?

how-to-use-windows-file-recovery

Microsoft released a file recovery tool named Windows file Recovery on Jan 21, 2020. Since Microsoft stated that, it helps users recover deleted files in Windows 10 or higher, many users are happy to have it installed on their computers.

But plenty of them found that it’s a command-line app, which to some extent forms a barrier to use: it is difficult for people without computer expertise and skills to use this tool to recover lost files easily, conveniently, and safely. Now, in order to make it easier for users to use this tool, this section will introduce Windows File Recovery software.

Windows File Recovery (WINFR) is a command-line app used to recover deleted files in Windows 10. It can recover files from healthy/formatted/corrupted HDD/SSD/USB/memory cards, including JPEG, PDF, PNG, MOV, ZIP, etc.

As a command-line app, Windows File Recovery is totally different from the majority of apps/software that users have used before: this tool does not have an intuitive interface. The software provides two basic modes for recovering files, suitable for different file systems and file loss scenarios.

That is to say, users need to select the appropriate recovery mode according to their specific situation, and manually input the correct command line syntax corresponding to the mode. Pretty confused, right? But don’t panic, a detailed tutorial about how to use Windows File Recovery will be given in the next part.

How to use Windows File Recovery tool?

Steps to recover lost files in Windows 10/11 using Windows File Recovery will be given in detail in this section. Please check the following items before using this tool:

File System: the way your OS uses to store and retrieve the data. 
Source drive: where you have lost your files. You could narrow it to a specific folder or just give a wide range, for example, C: drive. 
Target place: a place to save your recovered files, must be a different drive from the source drive. 
Recovery mode: general: Regular & Extensive; advanced: Segment & Signature. 
Switch: parameters to filter the scanning range.

Using this tool will utilize the recovery mode and switches/parameters. This section will help you figure out which mode and switch should be chosen.

If you are being bothered by some Windows File Recovery errors, please refer to the Windows File Recovery troubleshooting tutorial.

Which mode to choose?

According to different file systems and file loss scenarios, appropriate modes are to be chosen.

Winfr provides users with two basic modes for data recovery: Regular & Extensive.    

Regular mode refers to the standard mode, applying to a healthy (not corrupted) NTFS drive. 
Extensive mode scans your drive thoroughly, applying to all file systems.

There are two advanced modes under the Extensive mode: Signature & Segment.

Signature mode recovers lost files under all File Systems using file headers.
Segment mode recovers lost files under NTFS using file record segment.

Select a mode to recover lost files in Windows 10/11 in the following chart.

File system Scenarios mode
NTFS Deleted recently Regular
NTFS Deleted for a while Extensive
NTFS Formatted disk Extensive
NTFS Corrupted disk Extensive
FAT and exFAT Any Extensive

To check your file system, please tap on Win+E to open This PC > right-click on the drive that has lost files > Properties.

check-file-system

Which switch to choose?

You can use switches to filter the scanning range. If you can still recall the file name/file type/path, you could give a filter setting to narrow the scan range to shorten the time for recovery.

If you don’t, you could use a wildcard “*” to blur the search range; for example, you could use the wildcard “*” with the “/n” switch, and the command goes like “/n * .docx”.

Select switches according to your needs in the chart below.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n To filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recovers system files.

NTFS

Segment​​​​​

/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin.

NTFS

Segment

Steps to use Windows File Recovery

After learning how to use Windows File Recovery, you could now follow the steps below to perform file recovery using Command Prompt.

Notes:✎...
To prevent files from being overwritten, please avoid using your computer after accidental deletion. 
If asked whether allow the app to make changes to your device, please click Yes
The destination drive cannot be the same as the source drive. 
If Windows File Recovery failed to create destination folder, please seek help.

Step 1. Get Windows File Recovery in Microsoft Store.

get-windows-file-recovery

Step 2. Start Windows File Recovery, and input the command line. The Windows File Recovery command template goes like this:

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

For example, if you are going to recover files from E: drive to D: drive, you are about to utilize Segment mode, and the files you have lost are Docx files, then your command will be like:

winfr E: D: /segment /n *.docx

winfr-segment-docx

After that, a folder named “Recovery_date and time” will be automatically created in the destination drive.

Then wait for a moment, when the scanning process is over, you could head over to the destination you have set, and check if your files are successfully recovered.

Please get help if Windows File Recovery stuck at 99%.

Free alternative: Windows File Recovery GUI

Apparently, it’s too hard for a green hand to use this tool, because you have to learn the parameters, avoid syntax errors, avoid human errors, etc. That’s way too troublesome.

Then, is there any free Windows File Recovery alternative? Yes! Luckily, you could take advantage of this one, WinfrGUI, a free file recovery tool with an intuitive interface, which can help you recover your files within just a few clicks.

Notes:✎...
It only applies to Windows 10 2004 and above.  
Fully invoking the function of Windows File Recovery, this tool cannot offer a 100% success rate in file recovery.  
The destination partition/drive must be different from the source partition. 
If you are not using NTFS, please select Deep Scan.
Download Freeware Win 10 2004 and above
Secure Download

Step 1. Install and start WinfrGUI > select the partition where you have deleted files > choose a location to save your recovered files.

select-a-partition-to-scan

Step 2. Choose a scanning method. If you need to filter the scanning, please click Advanced Settings.

choose-scan-mode-to-recover

Step 3. Then click Start Recovery to get all deleted files back to your computer.

click-start-recovery

Easy & efficient Windows Data Recovery tool for Windows 7/8/10/11

Since Windows File Recovery cannot promise a high recovery rate and an intuitive user interface, it is difficult for users to utilize it. Instead of racking your brains to ponder how to use windows file recovery, you might as well use a much easier and more capable tool to save your time and labor and recover deleted files from windows 10.

Here, a helpful and easy tool can assist you to get data back easily - AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows. It is a data rescue application specially designed for Windows users who are using Windows 11/10/8/7 SP1/Server.

AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows

A reliable and helpful Windows data recovery utility 

  • Recover lost or deleted data from an SSD/HDD/USB/SD card, etc.
  • Retrieve over 200 various types of data, including images, videos, texts, emails, charts, and so on.
  • Recover deleted files while keeping the filenames, formats, and paths intact.
  • Compatibility with NTFS/FAT32/exFAT/ReFS, etc.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Detailed instructions are given as follows. Now start Windows data recovery quickly and efficiently.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows > select the partition that has lost/deleted files > Start Scan.

select-a-partition-to-scan

Step 2. The software will automatically scan and list all the deleted and missing files. You could preview or directly restore the desired files.

scan-lost-data

Step 3.  Select the data you need > Recover x files. Please save the files to another safe place to avoid data overwriting.

recover-lost-data

In addition, this versatile tool is also able to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10, 8, 7, and 11.

Bonus tips: partition recovery in Windows

To sum up, a detailed tutorial on how to use Windows File Recovery is introduced on this page, in addition, a good data rescue application for Windows users has been recommended.

As a command-line app developed by Microsoft, Windows File Recovery offers a file recovery service for users who are equipped with command-line know-how. For those who are green-hands, rather than carry out file recovery using the Command Prompt, using AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows is a better choice.

Btw, if you accidentally deleted a whole partition, and need to recover deleted partition in Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP, it is recommended to use AOMEI Partition Recovery software, a professional partition manager, to recover the lost partition at a high success rate.