3 Steps to Recover Lost Data on Windows | 5 Ways

Accidental data deletion and device formatting can easily lead to data loss. Learning how to recover lost data on this page can help you to get back deleted files easily.


By Kelsey / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Can data be recovered once lost?


Case 1. Recover lost files on Windows 10 desktop

I've been working on some custom files on Windows 10 desktop and accidentally hit delete data which wiped my progress. I expected the files to be in the Recycle Bin, but they're completely gone. Is there any way to recover lost data?


Case 2. Recover lost data from external hard drive

Hey! I have a 2 TB external hard drive for storing family photos and other precious files. But the other day I lost thousands of photos and videos of my kids when I tried to download movies to my hard drive. Can anyone help me, please?

With the diversity of storage devices, we can choose to use internal hard drives, USB flash drives, solid-state drives, memory cards, or other various data storage devices to store important files on computer. But no matter what storage device is used, files can easily be lost due to erroneous deletion, virus attacks, hardware errors, etc.

How to recover lost data from laptop is a problem that many people often face. In this article, we will present 5 solutions for lost data recovery from local disks, USB, SD cards, and other storage devices.

Method 1. Recover lost data from Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin is a partition on the Windows system that temporarily retains deleted files for future recovery or permanent deletion. Recycle Bin is a dose of regret, allowing us to restore deleted files that were mistakenly removed or accidentally lost.

Files in the Recycle Bin will not be removed unless you empty the Recycle Bin or the storage space of Recycle Bin is running out. You can recover deleted files on Windows 10 and other operating systems with the steps below:

1. Double-click on the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop or type “Recycle Bin” in the search box to open it.

2. Navigate to the data you need to recover, right-click them, and select Restore to restore them to the original locations.

Click Restore Recycle Bin


  • Files deleted through the "Shift+DEL" shortcut or Command Prompt may not be stored in Recycle Bin but are deleted completely.
  • Data deleted from external hard drives instead of local disks may be deleted directly without being stored in Recycle Bin.

Method 2. Restore deleted data with Backup and Restore

Backup and Restore is a data protection tool on Windows that allows you to back up your computer data and restore backups when needed. It offers you to backup individual computer files and folders, as well as create system images for complete PC backup.

With this option, you can recover permanently deleted files on Windows 10 and other Microsoft software.

1. Open Control Panel from the Start menu and click Backup and Restore (Windows 7) in the System and Security tab.

Windows Backup And Restore

2. Click on Restore my files.

Windows Backup Restore My Files

3. Tap Browse for files or Browse for folders to locate your lost files and choose to restore them to the original location or a new location.

Browse For Files Or Folders


To restore files from a Windows backup, you need to make sure that you have backed up the files you lost in advance.

Method 3. Recover lost data from Previous Versions

Recovering permanently deleted files from PC via Previous Version is a common lost data recovery method for Windows users. But using Previous Versions needs users have created a system restore point or enable File History for file backup before the loss.

How to recover deleted files free on Windows via Previous Version? Here is a complete guide:

1. Find the folder where your data get lost on Windows File Explorer. Right-click on it and choose Restore previous versions.

Restore Previous Versions Pic

2. Select an appropriate backup from the list of versions and tap Restore.

Previous Version Restore


Previous Versions are only available when you have created a restore point for the Windows system or you have performed backup copies of computer data using File History.

Method 4. Recover lost files using Windows File Recovery

Windows File Recovery is a CMD tool that you can use to recover lost data from SD cards, USB flash drives, and external hard drives. This tool is compatible with Windows 10 version 2004 and above, and it runs with the winfr command and can recover jpg, png, pdf, docx, zip, and multiple types of files.

How to use Windows File Recovery to recover lost data from USB flash drive or pen drive? Locate Windows File Recovery in the Windows Store and tap on Get to install it on PC. Then, please refer to the detailed tutorial below:

Microsoft Store Get

1. Click on This PC > right-click on the drive where your data get lost > click Properties > check the File System.

Check File System

2. Choose a recovery mode based on your File System.

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

3. Select switches in the chart below according to your needs.

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.



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



4. Search Windows File Recovery in the search box and click Run as administrator. Then input the typical syntax: winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches].

Note: The source-drive refers to the drive where you lost data; the destination-drive refers to the location where you want to save restored data. While the destination-drive can’t be the same as the source-drive. For example, if you want to recover lost data named “paper” that was deleted 2 weeks ago from hard drive (D:) to E: drive, you should run the following command:
winfr D: E: /extensive /n *paper*

Winfr Extensive Filename

After recovery, a new folder named Recovery_date and time will display in the destination drive.


Windows File Recovery, without a graphical interface, works as a command-line utility, which may be complicated for most users who are not familiar with the computer technique. And it is easy to make a small mistake and cause data recovery failure.

Easiest Way to Recover lost data on Windows without backup

Apart from Windows File Recovery, there is another simple option that you can recover deleted files that are not in Recycle Bin and have never been backed up. We highly recommend you to use top-ranked data recovery software - MyRecover to get back recently or permanently deleted files easily.

With an advanced algorithm technology, this tool enables you to perform formatted data recovery from local disks, SD card, HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, etc. with a few clicks. It supports recovering deleted pictures, videos, audio, emails, compressed files, and other hundreds of types of files.

Follow the how-to guide below to recover lost data from hard drive without a hitch.

1. Install MyRecover and run it on your computer.

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

2. Hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.

Select Partition To Scan

3. It will automatically scan the disk with Quick Scan and Deep Scan methods without missing any lost data.

Scan Lost Data

4. Find the missing files and click the Recover x files button.

Recover Lost Data


In this article, we have covered effective ways to recover lost data free on Windows PCs. When a file is lost, you should first check and restore it from Recycle Bin. If Recycle Bin is emptied and you have not backed it up before, using MyRecover to recover missing files is an easy and efficient option.

Kelsey · Editor
Kelsey is an English editor of AOMEI Technology. She is passionate about helping people find effective ways to deal with all problems in computer. She has great insights into data backup and recovery, disk partition and clone, and other data protection measures. She likes learn computer skills to improve herself and enjoy quality time with family and friends.