Windows File Recovery Review: Is It Really Work?

This full Windows file recovery review will answer all your doubts. Is Windows File Recovery really able to recover data? How to use it? is there any alternative? Get them right now.


By Ivy / Updated on April 2, 2024

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While Microsoft has always been committed to data protection, providing users with different backup software, such as Backup and Restore, File History, and OneDrive, they are not enabled by default. Thus, many users have to rely on data recovery software to get their data back quickly.

Now Microsoft has released its own Windows file recovery tool - Windows File Recovery. Unlike most software, it’s using a command line interface. It’s said to recover deleted files in Windows 10 2004 and later systems. You may wonder:

  • Is it really work?
  • How to use Windows 10 file recovery tool?
  • Is there any better alternative?

This article will tell you a clear answer. Let's take a look at this software.

What Is the Windows File Recovery Tool?

Windows File Recovery, first released in 2020, is Microsoft's specialized file recovery tool. It requires your system to be at least Windows 10 build 19041. Therefore, before using it, check the version of your system and update it if necessary.

Similarly, it works like other data recovery software, believing the deleted files are simply marked as empty and available for saving new data. It claims to recover deleted photos, documents, videos, etc from local devices, including internal or external disks, USB drives, and memory cards, It clearly states that recovery from cloud storage or network shares is not supported.

Windows File Recovery

The biggest controversy is the lack of a graphic user interface, even without interactive menus and options to easily go through using arrow keys on the keyboard. It’s a command line utility, requiring you to learn the syntax, recovery mode, and switches for recovery. This isolates it from the majority of users.

Key Features of Windows File Recovery Tool

This free Windows file recovery tool seems to be more technical-oriented, prioritizing functionality over aesthetics, as reflected in its command-line interface. So does its functionality make up for its appearance? Let’s learn more about its feature.

  • Various storage devices: Microsoft claims it supports internal or external disks, USB drives, and memory cards
  • Different file systems: This tool supports devices formatted as NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFS file systems.
  • Multiple recovery modes: The newer version of Windows File Recovery only list Regular or Extensive modes. You can further narrow down through Default, Segment, or Signature modes in the Advanced Switches. 
  • File type filtering: Instead of recovering all files, you can specify switches in this utility to recover specific file types, such as photos, documents, movies, etc.

Does Windows File Recovery Actually Work?

The Windows File Recovery tool is able to recover lost files, although it may miss some. Your success rate will depend on the recovery modes and switches used. Files lost for a while may not appear in a Regular search but could be detected in an Extensive search.

In sum, this tool is still in its early stages. So you may experience different issues while using it, such as can’t recover files a while ago, limited file types, crashes when scanning exFAT partitions, can’t scan the entire disk, can’t recover data from RAW drive, formatted drive lose file names and folder structures, rarely updated, etc. However, considering it's a free tool, it's worth giving it a shot if you don’t want to pay for software.

Where Do I Get Windows File Recovery?

Windows File Recovery is available in the Microsoft Store app or you can download it from the Microsoft website using a browser.

Note that a Microsoft account is required for the download and installation, as it is not available elsewhere. Here take Microsoft Store as an example.

Step 1. In Microsoft Store, search for Windows File Recovery and click Get


Step 2. After the installation process completes, click the Open button. If you don’t want to use it now, just close Microsoft Store.

Step 3. To use it later, open your Start menu and type Windows File Recovery. Then, select Run as administrator and Yes to allow User Account Control.


How to Use the Windows File Recovery Tool

Since it employs a command-line interface, the Windows File Recovery tool differs from other data recovery solutions that offer a graphical user interface. You need to learn some essential knowledge first.

Basic Knowledge of Windows File Recovery

Here you will get the syntax, recovery mode, and switches that may be used in the recovery process. Please take it seriously. Any small mistake may result in irreversible data loss.

✍ The Syntax of Windows File Recovery:

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

✍ The Recovery mode of Windows File Recovery:

You can select them based on the file system and data loss scenarios. If you don’t know, please check file system in the disk properties window.




Standard recovery mode for non-corrupted NTFS drives.


Thorough recovery mode compatible with all file systems.


The default mode in old verson of software. It is using the master file table and the fast recovery mode to search for recent deleted files on healthy NTFS drives.


It is using file record segments and search for various attributes of files on NTFS drives.


It is using file headers and searchs for the signature of file types, such as ASF, JPEG, MP3, MPEG, PDF, PNG, and ZIP files (including official documents like DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX). 

✍ The Switches of Windows File Recovery: 

You can select them based on your purpose, such as recover deleted files from Recycle Bin.




Indicates a Windows File Recovery command.


The drive contains deleted or lost files requiring data recovery.


The location to save the recovered files.


Filter search for file name, path and type. For example:

  • File name: /n myfile.docx
  • File path: /n/users/Documents/
  • Wildcard: /n myfile.*
  • /n *.docx
  • /n **


Recover specific extension groups. Only works in Signature mode.


Display signature mode extension groups (eg: asf, jpeg, mp3, mpeg, pdf, png, and zip) and file types.


Saves a log file in a specified location.


Overrides all user prompts.


Recovers undeleted files, such as those in the Recycle Bin.


Recovers deleted system files.

Recover Deleted Word Documents in Windows 10 Step by Step

Here I'll attempt to scan and recover three Word documents that were deleted from D: drive and the Recycle Bin folder in a Windows 10 PC. I plan to save it in the E: drive.

Step 1: Open Windows File Recovery and access the command prompt window.

Step 2: Since the files were recently deleted, I'll use the Regular mode. Type as follow and press Enter.

winfr D: E: /regular /n *.docx.


Step 3: Press Y to continue this process or respond to other prompts. Please be sure the destination folder is not the original folder containing deleted .docx images. Otherwise, your files may be overwritten.

Once the process completes, go to the destination folder and check your recovered files.  Sometimes, you may find it simply loses the file name. More seriously, you may find it’s corrupted or inaccessible.

In addition, you may find the scan times were minimal. A 500GB partition takes less than 2 minutes. However, the search time may increase, depending on disk size and selected recovery mode.

Best Alternative to Windows 10 File Recovery Tool

Microsoft claims it can recover deleted files, but in fact, it does not always recover them and has many annoying restrictions. Thus, many users want the best alternative to replace it for their purpose. We recommend you using MyRecover for its high success rate (up to 95%), fast scanning methods, and wide compatibility.

  • ✍ Multiple storage devices and file systems compatible: It is able to recover lost data from internal or external disks, USB drives, and memory cards formatted as NTFS, FAT32, FAT, exFAT, ReFS, and more file systems.
  • ✍ Supports a wide range of file type, such as documents, images, videos, audios, compressed files, etc, surpassing 200+ file formats. For example, recover Word/Excel/PPT documents, WMV/MXF/MP4 videos, JPG/TIFF/GIF images, and any common file types.
  • ✍ File types filtering: Instead of recovering all files, it allows you to filter specific file types or extensions and recover them immediately without waiting for the final scanning result.
  • ✍ Complete recovery: With its fast scanning methods, you can find out all files and recover them completely. More importantly, it will keep them with original formats, quality, file names, or paths, depending on your storage devices.
  • ✍ Various data loss scenarios: Recover data from healthy/problematic/damaged/formatted drives, such as recover data from RAW drive or in case of virus infections, bad sectors, file system errors, etc.

In addition, the software has a graphical user interface, making it suitable for a wider user group. And it applies to all versions of Windows systems, such as Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc and Windows 11.

Step 1. Download the best alternative to Windows file recovery tool and start Windows data recovery. Hover the mouse over the the drive or partition containing lost or deleted files and click Scan.​

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


Step 2. The software will run Quick Scan and Deep Scan methods automatically to find out all the deleted or lost files. You can directly locate them in the source folder. Or directly file name or extension in the Search for files or folders box or use the Filter feature.


Step 3. Select the files you want to recover and click the Recover x files button to recover deleted files in Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc. You will then be asked to select a location. Please select a new location instead of the original location to prevent potential data overwriting.



  • The restore button will display the number of selected files and their full size. You can use it to determine the integrity of the recovered files.
  • You can also use it to recover deleted files Windows Server 2016, 2019, 2022, etc.
  • You can recover files from spanned volume for free, up to 30MB each time. To recover all files, please upgrade to the advanced editions.

Comparison between Windows File Recovery and Alternative

Here is a quick comparison table to help you clearly distinguish their differences. So you can choose one more suitable data recovery software and ensure your data is successfully recovered. Note that every attempt will reduce the success rate of data recovery.



Windows File Recovery

Success rate


Low and unstable

Complete recovery

All files and keep original name, path, format, and quality.

Not all files can always be recovered. Sometimes file names are lost, or worse, files are corrupted and inaccessible.


Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11 and Windows Servers

Windows 10 version 2004 or later

File Systems

NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, ReFS and any RAW disk

NTFS, FAT, exFAT, ReFS (Signature only)

File formats





Graphic user interface


File selection


Filter scan result


Automatic scan


Raw drive recovery



1. Does Windows 10 have a file recovery tool?

Microsoft released Windows File Recovery in 2020 and unlike other data recovery software, it’s using a command line interface. It claims to scan and recover deleted files in Windows 10 2004 and later systems.  

2. Is Windows File Recovery free?

Windows File Recovery is totally free for Windows 10 users and you can get them from the Microsoft Store app or the Microsoft website.

3. How to recover data from SD cards using Windows File Recovery?

Microsoft recommends recovering data from SD card using Signature mode. You can then select switches based on your purpose. To recover permanently deleted PDF files from D: drive to E: drive, type as winfr D: E: /signature /n *.pdf and press Enter to recover your PDF files.


Speaking of Windows File Recovery review, it’s not user-friendly, especially for green hands, and does not always recover your files. It offers users different recovery modes and switches to control the data recovery process. So if you are a technician and don’t want to pay for software, it’s still worth trying.

For novices, the best choice is to use a software with graphic user interface, such as MyRecover, which can do more than Windows File Recovery. For example, it is able to recover data from RAW drive, keep recovered files with original quality, etc.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.