By Lora / Last update June 6, 2022

About Windows File Recovery

windows-file-recovery-tutorial

Windows File Recovery, also shorted as Winfr, was released quietly by Microsoft in 2020.

Microsoft has stated that it can recover deleted or lost media/office/compressed files from healthy/corrupted/formatted HDD/SSD/USB/memory cards in Windows 10 2004 and above.

As a command-line utility, though many users installed it on their devices, so many of them complained about its inconvenience, errors, usability, etc.

Rest assured, whatever problems you are having, you could get help here. This Windows File Recovery tutorial aims at offering help guide and solutions to some frequently asked questions and errors.

Quick navigation:

How do I install Windows File Recovery?

Firstly, to have it installed on your computer, make sure you are using Windows 10 2004 (Build 19041), or above. If your computer is lower than this, it is necessary to update it.

But you could also try a compatible Windows data recovery software – AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows, which applies to Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP/Server.

Step 1. Input Microsoft Store in the Windows search bar > Open.

Step 2. Input Windows File Recovery in the Microsoft Store search bar > navigate to the home page of this tool.

Step 3. Click Get to install it.

microsoft-store-get

Wait for the downloading, and then it can get installed successfully.

Why can't I download Windows File Recovery?

If you are having a problem downloading this app, there may be something wrong.

Check if your OS and Build are above Windows 10 2004 (Build 19041).

Solution 1. Right-click on the Start menu > select Run > input winver.

run-winver

If it is lower than the required OS and Build, try to update OS.

Solution 2. Try to clean up some space on the destination drive where you want to have the Windows File Recovery installed.

Maybe there is not sufficient space to let the tool get downloaded. But before deleting, please don’t forget to back up your important data on it.

How do I use Windows File Recovery?

If you have successfully installed this app, but don’t know how to use it, this section will be helpful. For time’s sake, here we only offer simple steps, to get more detailed info on how to use Windows File Recovery, please refer to the elaborated guide.

Step 1. Check the file system. Navigate to This PC > right-click on the drive that has lost files > Properties.

check-file-system

Step 2. Choose a recovery mode.

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

Step 3. Choose switches to help you narrow the scanning range.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recovers specific extension groups. Signature
/k Recovers system files. NTFS Segment​​​​​
/segment Segment mode; recovers files under NTFS drives using file record segments. Segment
/signature Signature mode; recovers files under all file system types using file headers. Signature
/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin. NTFS Segment

Step 4. Run Windows File Recovery > input the recovery command:

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

The source drive refers to the drive that has lost files, while the destination can be anywhere you like, except the source drive – they cannot be the same.

To put it simpler, let’s take an example. You have deleted a file named “paper” in D: drive 3 weeks ago, and you want to have it recovered to E: drive. Then you could input:

winfr D: E: /extensive /n *paper*

winfr-extensive-filename

Wait for the scanning process to complete, and then you will get your files recovered.

How do I access recovered files?

After file recovery, how to get access to the recovered files? Actually, Windows File Recovery will create a recovery folder in the destination drive. The folder will be named “Recovery_date and time”.

Just head over to the destination disk you have chosen, and check the recover folder there.

winfr-recovery-folder

Is Windows File Recovery any good?

When it comes to the evaluation of a data recovery tool/software, several factors are to be taken into account. Simply put, a data recovery tool needs these to offer a good user experience:

  • Usability. E.g., GUI. Software without GUI cannot be commented as user-friendly.
  • Recovery rate. A data recovery software that can actually work and help users get data back can be regarded as a good one.
  • Recovery speed. How much time does the tool need to recover data is also significant.
  • Compatibility. A good data recovery software needs to work satisfactorily in a different environment, e.g., a different OS.
  • Installability. The capacity to be installed in a certain environment.

A good file/data recovery tool needs to be excellent in several aspects. For Windows File Recovery, to some degree, it cannot be deemed as good as users want it to be.

In the first place, it is a command-line application, offering no graphical user interface. No interactive menu or option, all users can do is input commands to operate it.

What’s more, users need quite a time to learn how to use it – the commands are so difficult. It is so demanding that users are prone to get their grammar wrong. And then users will get errors.

Secondly, for the recovery rate, it is quite useful under certain conditions, but sometimes, it fails. Those recovery modes it provides can only work under specific situations.

Then, it scans 1 disk/partition at a time, and it takes longer. Users need to repeat their operation if they need to recover files from different drives.

Lastly, it is quite good at compatibility, to be honest. It applies to NTFS/FAT/exFAT/ReFS and can recover files from HDD/SSD/USB/memory cards.

In a nutshell, it is not that good actually. At least, it didn’t meet users’ imagination and requirements.

Better choice of Windows Data Recovery – AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows

Need a better Windows recovery tool? Users would rather use a professional Windows data recovery software than waste time and labor.

AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows can meet your satisfaction. Compared with Windows File Recovery, this tool is much easier to use, faster, more compatible.

Using this software, you could easily recover deleted/lost data in Windows 11/10/8/7 SP1 & Server. 200+ types of data/files can get restored with an advanced scanning algorithm.

AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows

A reliable and efficient data rescue tool designed for Windows

  • Retsore deleted data with all filenames, formats, and directories intact and unchanged.
  • Easily restore deleted and missing files within 3 steps.
  • Support data recovery from HDD/SSD/USB/SD card, etc.
  • Efficiently retrieve lost or deleted data at a very fast speed and a high recovery rate.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
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No matter how you have got the data lost: accidental deletion, system crash, disk formatting, virus attack, etc., you will get covered.

Notes:✎...
The destination to save the recovered data cannot be the same as the source drive.

Step 1. Run the software > select a partition where you have deleted or lost data > Start Scan.

select-a-partition-to-scan

Step 2. It automatically scans your disk with Quick Scan & Deep Scan to maximize and optimize the data recovery.

scan-lost-data

Step 3. Check the scanning result > choose what you want to recover > click Recover x files. Don't forget to select another place to save your recovered data.

recover-lost-data

Not only internal hard disk, it can also assists you to recover files from external hard drives.

Windows File Recovery tutorial - errors

Due to difficult commands and the demanding requirements, users are suffering from so many Windows File Recovery errors. Solutions to some frequently encountered errors will be covered in this Windows File Recovery tutorial.

WinFR requires admin privileges to run

winfr-error-admin-privileges

Solution 1. Check the Microsoft account. Go to Windows Settings > Accounts >  Your info > confirm whether the account is the administrator. If not, click Email &  accounts > Add an account > log in to the account when you download Windows File Recovery.

Solution 2. Open this app in Microsoft Store/PowerShell.  Input Microsoft Store in the Search bar > Search Windows File Recovery > click Open. Or Press Win + X keys > select Windows PowerShell (Admin) > input winfr > hit Enter. 

To get more info about the error “WinFR requires admin privileges to run”, please get help.

Failed to create destination folder

failed-to-create-destination-folder

Solution 1. Check the storage space. If there is not enough storage space, try to free up some space by deleting some unimportant files.

Solution 2. Use another destination to store, an external drive is recommended.

Solution 3. Correct the command syntax.

To get a more detailed guide on command syntax, please refer to “Failed to create destination folder”.

There was an error parsing your command

there-was-an-error-parsing-your-command

Solution: Check your command line syntax. Check for the source drive & destination drive, slashes, and backslashes, directory.

To get a more detailed guide on command syntax, please refer to “There was an error parsing your command”.

Winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command

Solution 1. Use double quotes for a command with spaces.

Solution 2. Uninstall and reinstall this app.

Solution 3. Run SFC and DISM.

To learn more about the error “Winfr.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command”, please get help.

Windows File Recovery Stuck at 99%

windows-file-recovery-stuck-at-99

Solution 1. Cancel and retry. Tab on Ctrl+C to cancel it, and then retry the scanning by inputting the command again.

Solution 2. Close other apps. When finding your computer gets slow using this tool, try closing some apps, for example, some background programs.

Solution 3. Restart your computer.  

Solution 4. Reinstall this app.

If you want to know more about how to fix Windows File Recovery stuck at 99%, please get help.

Windows File Recovery alternative – WinfrGUI

Windows File Recovery provides no graphical user interface, which is quite unfriendly and inconvenient to ordinary users.

For these users who are not familiar with commands, they might as well turn to professional file recovery software for Windows - WinfrGUI.

As freeware, it fully invokes the functions of Windows File Recovery and facilitates users to retrieve lost files from healthy/corrupted/formatted HDD/SSD/USB/memory cards.

Now download WinfrGUI to enjoy freeware.

Download Freeware Win 10 2004 and above
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Notes:✎...
This tool only applies to Windows 10, version 2004 (Build 19041), or later.
Fully invoking the function of Windows File Recovery, it provides no 100% guarantee of success rate.
When choosing the destination drive, make sure to choose a different drive from the source drive.

Step 1. Run WinfrGUI > select the drive where you have lost files > choose another drive as a destination.

select-a-partition-to-scan

Step 2. Choose a scanning method. To target file type/name/path, please click Advanced Settings.

choose-scan-mode-to-recover

Step 3. Click Start Recovery to restore files from Windows 10 easily.

click-start-recovery

Except for applying to restoring simply deleted files, it is also able to help users restore permanently deleted files from Windows 10.

Wrapping up

Some frequently asked questions about how to use Windows File Recovery and relevant solutions to frequently encountered Windows File Recovery errors are elaborated in this Windows File Recovery tutorial.

If you need more compatible and efficient software, you might as well try AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows. It applies to Windows 11/10/8/7 SP1 and Server.