My files are deleted, so how do I get them back?

Last updated: April 14, 2023

Have you ever accidentally deleted important files on Windows? If so, you are not alone. Accidental file deletion is one of the most common mistakes that Windows users make.

Luckily, there are ways to recover those deleted files. In this article, we are going to look at the different methods of recovering files on Windows. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced user, this article will help you.

Understanding File Deletion in Windows

When you delete a file in Windows, it may seem like it's gone for good. However, this is not always the case. Understanding how Windows handles file deletion can help you recover your files.

File deletion types

There are two types of file deletion in Windows: simple deletion and permanent deletion.

  • Simple deletion : When you delete a file by pressing the Delete key or by right-clicking the file and choosing Delete, Windows sends the file to the Recycle Bin. You can recover the file by going to the trash and restoring it.
  • Permanent deletion : When you delete a file by pressing the Shift + Delete key or by emptying the recycle bin, Windows considers the file to be permanently deleted. However, the file is not physically erased from your hard drive. Instead, Windows marks the space occupied by the file as free, meaning it can be reused to store new data.

How does Windows handle file deletion?

First, it's important to understand that every file on a hard drive is stored in clusters, physical parts of storage space. When you delete a file, Windows does not actually delete the data from the hard disk, but simply marks the cluster location as available for other files.

As long as the cluster has not been reassigned to another file, it is possible to recover lost data. This is why it is recommended not to move or install anything after accidentally deleting a file.

If you overwrite the cluster storage space by writing new data to it, file recovery will be much more difficult, if not impossible.

Windows File Recovery Methods

When you accidentally delete files in Windows, there are several methods to recover those files. In this part, we will look at the three main methods for recovering files in Windows: Windows Recycle Bin, Windows Restore Points, and data recovery software.

Windows Recycle Bin

The first method to recover deleted files on Windows is to check the Recycle Bin. The Trash is a special folder where deleted files are temporarily stored before being permanently deleted.

Here are the steps to recover deleted files from Windows Recycle Bin:

  • First, open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.
  • Then find the file you want to recover from the list of files present in the Recycle Bin.
  • Finally, right-click on the file and select Restore. The file will then be moved from the trash folder to its original location.

If the file is not present in the recycle bin, it means that it has been permanently deleted or it has been deleted using the key Shift + Delete. In this case, you can proceed to the next method to recover your files.

Windows restore points

Windows restore points are automatic backups of your Windows system which are created regularly. These restore points contain backup copies of your system files, including personal software.

If you have enabled the creation of restore points on your system, you can use them to recover lost or corrupted programs.

To do this, here are the steps to follow:

  • First, open the Control Panel by pressing the key Windows + R, type control in the dialog box, then press Enter.
  • Then click on System.
  • In the window that opens, click on System protection.
  • Select System Restauration.
  • In the window that appears, click Next.
  • Now select the restore point you want to use to restore your system.
  • Finally, click Next and follow the on-screen instructions to restore your system to an earlier restore point.

info: It is important to note that restoring the system to an earlier restore point may result in the loss of software installed since the creation of the restore point. So it is recommended to backup your data before using this file recovery method.

data recovery software

If the previous two methods do not work, you can use software to recover your deleted files. These software works by scanning your hard drive and looking for traces of deleted files.

Here is a list of free data recovery software:


The first software that we recommend for data recovery on Windows is Recuva. First of all, developed by the British company Piriform Ltd, which also created CCleaner. Recuva is a handy tool for recovering deleted files.

Moreover, it is available in both free and paid versions, with additional features in the paid version, making it an easy and user-friendly solution to recover lost data.

The recovery process is easy to follow. After choosing the type of file to be recovered and indicating the previous location of the file, the software performs a deep scan of the specified location and recovers all files that match the search criteria.

Also, Recuva is able to recover files from damaged or formatted partitions, as well as files deleted by viruses or power failures. It is also compatible with Windows 7, 10 and 11 operating systems, and supports NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT file systems.

Download Recuva


If you have already tried Recuva and it failed to recover your precious files, don't despair! PhotoRec is an alternative solution to recover lost or deleted files.

Indeed, this open-source software works on a variety of operating systems such as Windows, macOS and Linux. It is also compatible with the most common file systems such as FAT, NTFS, ext2/ext3/ext4 and HFS+.

Unlike Recuva, PhotoRec works in text mode, which can seem intimidating for uninitiated users. However, it also allows for greater flexibility and customization of data recovery commands.

Download PhotoRec

MiniTool Power Data Recovery

The third software to try is MiniTool Power Data Recovery. This data recovery software is very effective due to its advanced search algorithms that allow it to scan damaged or corrupt file systems. Moreover, MiniTool Power Data Recovery is compatible with a variety of popular file systems such as NTFS, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT and HFS+.

The data recovery process offered by MiniTool Power Data Recovery takes place in several stages. First, the software performs a quick file system scan to recover recently deleted or lost files.

Download MiniTool Power Data Recovery

Wise data recovery

Wise Data Recovery is an advanced and efficient data recovery software developed by WiseCleaner. It is compatible with Windows operating systems, from Windows XP to Windows 11.

This program can recover a wide variety of files, including photos, videos, Word documents, emails, texts and more. Also, it is capable of recovering files even if they have been permanently deleted and marked as free space by the operating system.

The software features a simple and easy to use interface, with advanced filtering options to help fine-tune recovery results. Thus, it offers generic file type filters, such as images, audios, videos, documents, compressed files, and emails, to filter the scan results based on their type.

Similarly, Wise Data Recovery is also equipped with specific file type filters, such as JPEG, PNG, ZIP, DOC, XLS, TXT, MP3, MP4, etc., to filter recovery results based on file types. particular files. Moreover, it provides the option to preview the recovered files before restoring them, which makes it easier to select the files to be recovered.

Finally, Wise Data Recovery allows you to recover up to 2 GB of data for free.

Download Wise Data Recovery

Pure File Recovery

Finally, the last software you can try is Puran File Recovery. This program is designed to recover deleted files from hard drives. It uses an unallocated sector scanning method and supports many file formats.

Moreover, Puran File Recovery is capable of recovering data from damaged partitions. The software has a simple and intuitive user interface, as well as advanced features for experienced users. It supports FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS and NTFS5 file systems.

Download Puran File Recovery

How to use Recuva to recover deleted files?

In this part, we will guide you step by step on how to use Recuva to recover deleted files on Windows.

To begin download Recuva tool , then launch the software and choose the type of document that was deleted,


Then specify the location of your data to recover and select the location to use for recovery (file destination).


A very important note: always try to save your data on an external medium. It is important to note that defrag your hard drive will move a large number of files, which may make your data inaccessible if not backed up to another medium.