By Stephanie / Last update May 11, 2022

Windows File Recovery not working

“I just installed Windows File Recovery from the Store. I'm running build 19041.329. And when I click on it and enter the admin password, I get the error “winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.” How do I fix this?”

Windows File Recovery is a free app released by Microsoft to help users recover deleted files in Windows 10 and later. As a useful app for restoring deleted files and folders, it could rescue users from data loss.

Unfortunately, not everyone could use Windows File Recovery correctly. Because it’s a Command prompt app, it requires users to master a certain basic computer knowledge. Sometimes, when you launch the app or input a command, you may receive the error “winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.” Read the following to know the four solutions to fix the issue.

4 ways to solve Winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command

“Winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command” simply means you typed a word in the "command position" (usually first) that isn't recognized as a valid command. A variety of reasons could lead to this issue.

You simply typed it incorrectly.
The command does not exist in reality.
The command exists, but only in the current directory, which is NOT on the "command path".
The command is in a directory that is not on the path. This is common if you installed something that did not include its location in the path. You could add the path to Windows environment variables.
You typed or pasted a command with spaces but didn't quote it, so only a portion of the name is being treated as the command.
You’re not logged in as an admin since you had to enter the admin password.

Fix 1. Use double quotes for a command with spaces

The most common cause of the error is typing the wrong command. Furthermore, if the path is not properly specified, the command prompt will not know where to look for the file, resulting in an error.

You'd better check the right syntax from Microsoft official support. Though the syntax you used is right, there is still the error. It is probably you don't use double quotes when you input commands with spaces.  

For example, if the deleted file you want to recover is called “Recovery Test”, the right command should be:

winfr C: E: /regular /n "\Users\\Documents\Recovery Test.docx"

Besides, to help you use the syntax correctly, there are some other tips for you.

Please always use drive letters in the source and destination drive path.
 Don’t forget the colon after inputting drive letters.
 There should be a space between the source and destination.
 Don’t forget the backslash (\) at the end of the command when you specify a folder name.

Fix 2. Uninstall and reinstall Windows File Recovery

If the Windows File Recovery app is not installed properly or you're not logged in as an admin, it could lead to this issue too. You could try to solve it by uninstalling Windows File Recovery and login in as the admin user and installing Winfr from the Microsoft Store again.  

Step 1. Press Windows + X key, and select “Apps and Features”.

Step 2. Type “Windows File Recovery” in the search bar.

Step 3. Click “Windows File Recovery” and “uninstall”.

uninstall-winfr

After the uninstallation is finished, you could check whether the account logged in is the administrator, by navigating to “Settings” > “Accounts” > “Your info”. In addition, you could check your Windows OS version and update it to the latest.

Fix 3. Run SFC and DISM

When you delete a file, the space it once occupied on your hard drive becomes available. However, the deleted file's data remains on the drive until other data decides to use that space. As a result, File Recovery is capable of recovering and restoring deleted files. However, if your system files are corrupted, the app couldn’t work normally. You could scan and repair your system files and disk, then restart Windows File Recovery.

Step 1. Press Windows + X key and select “Windows PowerShell(Admin)”.

Step 2. Input the following commands and press Enter one by one.

- sfc /scannow

- DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

scannow-command

Step 3. After the process is completed, restart Windows File Recovery.

Fix 4. Free Windows File Recovery GUI

If the commands are too complex to input for you, you could try the Windows File Recovery GUI tool. It’s a FREE app with the function of Windows File Recovery.

The biggest difference from Windows File Recovery is the friendly-user interface. If you want to recover deleted files in Windows 10, you could try this tool with simple clicks.

Download Freeware Win 10 2004 and above
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Step 1. Download and install Windows File Recovery GUI on your computer. Run the WinfrGUI. Select a partition to scan and a destination drive to save recovered files.

select-a-partition-to-scan

Step 2. Select the scan methods according to your File System of the disk. You could even make advanced settings if you want to specify the folder or file types.

choose-scan-mode-to-recover

Step 3. Click “Start Recovery” to scan the drive.

click-start-recovery

It’s easy to operate for everyone because it doesn’t require users to input any command. It’s a perfect alternative for Windows File Recovery.

Fix 5. Free data recovery software-AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows

 If the commands are too complicated or Windows File Recovery doesn't work, the easiest way to recover deleted or lost files from hard drives is to use professional data recovery software, like AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows. It aims to restore permanently deleted or missing files by accidental deletion, system crash, hard drive formatting, and other data loss scenarios. 

AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows

▶ Support for permanently deleted files recovery, formatted file recovery, and other data recovery methods.
▶ Recover deleted files from SD cards, USB flash drives, HDDs, SSDs, external hard drives, and other storage media.
▶ Recover lost Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, photos, videos, audios, emails, and hundreds of other file types.
▶ Compatible with Windows 7/8/10/11 and Windows Server.

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Step 1. Launch AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows on your computer. Select a partition to start scanning. 

select-a-partition-to-scan

Step 2. The program runs the scanning process quickly and find deleted files and other missing files in this partition. During scanning, you could recover any file you want. 

scan-lost-data

Step 3. Select the file or the folder that you want to recover and click "Recover files".

recover-lost-data

To sum up

This tutorial has introduced four methods to fix “winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command”. You could try them according to your needs. The fifth one is highly recommended because it can easily restore deleted or lost data from Windows storage devices. It could perfectly fix the problems when inputting commands.

After you delete files, you'd better minimize or avoid using your computer if you want to increase your chances of recovering a file. Commonly, you could recover deleted files in Windows 10 via Windows File Recovery, because any use of your computer can result in the creation of files, which may overwrite the deleted files at any time.

Therefore, it's suggested to make a regular backup of vital files with a professional backup tool-AOMEI Backupper. It could help you backup, restore, and clone your Windows system.