How to Recover Deleted Files from Windows XP/10/11 Hard Drive

Want to recover deleted files from Windows XP hard drives? Gain 4 proven ways to recover data in this article. Also, practical tips to show hidden files and prevent data loss are for you.


By Lori / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Since Microsoft no longer offers Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP, some users choose to upgrade their Windows OS, but other users still use it. Also, continuing to use Windows XP may become more susceptible to security risks and viruses.

Just like newer Windows versions, XP users can lose their files due to various reasons such as accidental deletion or crashed computers.

“So how do I recover permanently deleted files in Windows XP? Thanks in advance.”

If you’re bothered by this issue, please don’t be afraid, permanently deleted files in Windows XP can be still recovered. This article will provide 4 effective ways to recover deleted files from Windows XP hard drives. Let’s read on!

5 Top Reasons for File Deletion

Understanding why users often seek ways to recover deleted files from computers in Windows XP is important. Let's explore the key reasons behind file deletion:

1️⃣ Accidental Deletion: People might delete files by mistake, especially when using certain shortcuts.

2️⃣ Virus Attacks: Malicious software can make Windows automatically deletes files or render them inaccessible.

3️⃣ Corrupted Devices: Files can be lost if the storage device is damaged or corrupted.

4️⃣ System Upgrade: During upgrades, files can get deleted, especially if there are errors.

5️⃣ Human Errors: Mistakes like accidentally formatting also can lead to file deletion.

Beforehand: Show Hidden Files/Folders via the Attrib Command

Sometimes, your Windows XP data becomes hidden or read-only, and you mistakenly think that the data has been deleted. But in fact, it might not gone. So you can try to use the attrib command to display hidden files. How’s do:

❌ Warning:

If the attrib command doesn’t work, it could mean that the files you’re looking for have been deleted from your Windows. In that case, you’re supposed to refer to the next part.

Step 1. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt > Run as administrator.

Step 2. Use Administrator to run CMD by entering the password and choose OK.

Step 3. Type chkdsk C : /f and press Enter to execute this command. (Replace C with the drive letter of the hard drive on your own Windows XP computer).

Step 4. Later, type attrib -h -r -s /s /d C:*.* and press Enter.


How to Recover Deleted Files from Windows XP (4 Ways)

After knowing the reasons for file deletion, let’s show how to recover deleted files from desktop Windows XP. Here are 4 efficient ways for you.

1. Recover Deleted Files from Recycle Bin Windows XP

Recovering deleted files from the Recycle Bin is a straightforward process. Deleted files will not leave this temporary storage place until you empty the Recycle Bin or its storage size exceeds 5% of your storage space.

🌟Tip: When the message this folder is too big too recycle appears, you can adjust this setting as needed to fit your requirements to prevent potential data loss. If not, you may have no choice but to use third-party tools to recover large permanently deleted files or folders.

Here are the simple steps to recover deleted files from desktop Windows XP:

  • Double-click the Recycle Bin icon and look for the file you want to recover, right-click on the file and select Restore.


🌟Tip: If you want to restore multiple files, press the Ctrl key and select the files. If you want to restore all files, select Restore all items option from the menu bar.

2. Recover Deleted Files from Windows via MyRecover

If these files are not in the Recycle Bin, they may have been permanently deleted. You need powerful and effective data recovery tools to recover permanently deleted files. If you don't have a backup, MyRecover is your second-to-none choice since it is efficient in data recovery in local hard drives. Using it can help you quickly perform deleted file recovery with a high data recovery success rate.

Professional Data Recovery Software
  • Apply to various data recovery scenarios: accidental deletion, unintentional formatting, file system conversion, firmware bug, virus infection, etc.
  • Recover files from multiple local devices such as HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, SD card, etc.
  • Advanced scanning method: MyRecover runs Quick Scan & Deep Scan automatically to search/find all the recoverable files on your selected drive.
  • Excellent compatibility: Support Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Windows Server.

How to recover deleted files from Windows PCs without backups? Please follow the steps below.

Step 1. Download, install, and run MyRecover on your Windows. Hover the mouse over the drive saved deleted files before, and click Scan.


Step 2.MyRecover will scan your drive automatically and thoroughly to locate all deleted and missing files on the select drive. You can use the Search Box or the Filter feature to quickly locate the files you want.


🌟Tip: Preview or filter your desired file based on Files Type (Documents, Image, etc.), Size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~ 512MB, 512MB above, etc.), Date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days).

Step 3. You will see a list of recoverable files that MyRecover found on your drive. Choose your desired files to recover and press Recover x files.


Step 4. Select a new location to save the recovered files and click Select Folder to confirm it. Your files will be recovered in a few minutes or longer, depending on the amount of data you want to recover.

Select New Location

You recover lost protection history files for free, up to 500MB. Once exceeded, please upgrade to the advanced editions to enjoy unlimited size.

3. Recover Deleted Files from Windows XP via Backup and Restore

Windows XP features a built-in recovery utility named Backup and Restore, which proves invaluable when data loss occurs. As long as you have previously created file backups, this utility simplifies the process of recovering deleted data. Here's how:

Step 1. Click Start on the taskbar > Go to All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup.


Step 2. In the Backup and Restore Wizard, click Next > choose Restore files and settings and click Next.


Step 3. Select the files or folders you want to restore, and click Next > Finish.

4. Recover Deleted Files from Desktop Windows XP via System Restore

System Restore is a helpful feature in Windows that enables users to restore computer to earlier date. To be more precise, it can help users revert their computer's state, including system files, installed apps, Windows Registry, and system settings, back to a previous point that contains your deleted data in time.

After restoration, it does not affect your personal data files like Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos on the computer.

Step 1. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.


Step 2. Select Restore my computer to an earlier time > click Next.

Step 3. Choose a date >  select a restore point saving your deleted data > click Next. The System Restore will begin.


Step 4. After it finishes, your Windows computer will restart. Click OK. Your deleted data will appear on your hard drive again.

Further Reading: How to Protect Your Files Against Deletion

Protecting your files against deletion is essential to avoid accidental or malicious data loss. Here are some effective data loss prevention tips to safeguard your files in Windows XP.

  • Be Cautious with Deletion: Pay close attention when deleting files. Double-check the files you are deleting, especially when using the Shift + Delete (Windows) or Command + Delete (Mac) shortcuts
  • Set File Permissions: Adjust the file permissions on sensitive files and folders. Limit access to only authorized users to prevent accidental deletion by others.
  • Regularly Update Antivirus Software: Keep your antivirus software up to date to protect your system from malware and viruses that could potentially delete your files.
  • Back up Files Regularly: If you are unwilling to bear the pain of data loss. Here, we recommend this free backup software for Windows like AOMEI Backupper Standard to protect you data by making regular backups.

It supports automatic regular backup of your files in Windows XP. Then, once the data or files are deleted and lost again. It will be a very easy thing to restore them from the backup.

File Backup


How do I make the hidden Recycle Bin appear on Desktop in Windows XP?
Step 1. Press “Win + I” to open Windows Settings > click the “Personalization” button.
Step 2. Click the “Themes” > select the “Desktop icon settings”.
Step 3. Tick the Recycle Bin icon. > click Apply > OK.
Where is the Recycle Bin in Windows XP?
Definitely, you can if the used space of larger drive is smaller than or equal to the smaller drive and the cloning software you choose supports the "Intelligent Clone" feature. It only cloned the used sectors of a drive to another by default.
How do I recover permanently deleted files on Windows?
The Recycle Bin in Microsoft Windows functions as a temporary storage area where users can place files and folders slated for deletion, providing a chance to retrieve them before permanent erasure, much like Mac's Trash.

Usually, the Recycle Bin in Windows XP is visible on the computer Desktop. However, if it's not, it might be concealed. Users can access it in the C:\recycler folder, a deeper location in the system directory.
How long does the data recovery process take?
The time it takes to recover deleted files in Windows XP depends on factors like the size of the drive, the speed of your computer, and the software being used. It can range from a few minutes to several hours.

Written in the end

In summary, this article offers 4 effective and valuable ways to recover deleted files from Windows XP. You can also show hidden files, folders, and drives via another method. We encourage you to utilize the information provided in this article to solve your issue.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.