How to Recover Deleted Files in Windows 10

Last Updated: September 27, 2016

It is quite common to accidentally delete an important file and then end up in that face-palm moment. Whether you have deleted an important file while you were in the delete-all-the-junk-files spree, or you had to completely format your hard drive, it may not be the end of the world. There is still a chance that you may be able to recover your deleted data if you follow the right steps and use proper tools.

You can use a third-party data recovery tool or even a data recovery service to recover deleted data. In this post, we will show you how you can recover deleted files in Windows 10 using two different methods.

Note: The below mentioned instructions work in all the versions of Windows, so you may use them even if you have a different version of Windows.

Why is the data Recoverable?

You might think that all of your data gets deleted as soon as you delete it, in reality, the data is just marked as “deleted” and makes the OS think it is not there. The data is still available on the hard drive, but it gets overwritten with time as you add more data. If it is not overwritten, a recovery tool can extract this data and let you recover it. You might also be wondering, does this happens to all of your private data as well? The answer is yes, that is why you should use a file shredder software to permanently delete private data.

Find the Deleted File

Before we start “recovering” data, it is better to make sure that the data is actually deleted and there are no backups of it available. Recovery process is harder and riskier, so it would be better if we could get the file by any other mean. Below we have listed some common places where your file might be lurking around.

Check the Recycle bin: It might seem a little obvious, but some less tech savvy people still don’t know about the Recycle bin. When you delete a file, it goes directly into the Recycle bin instead of getting completely deleted. Recycle bin should be on the Windows 10 desktop, just open Recycle bin and look for your file there. If you find it, right-click on it and select “Restore” to restore the file.



Check Backups: If you use Windows built-in backup feature or a third-party backup tool, then check the external backup drive and see if you could find your important file there.

Check Cloud Storage: If your important file was stored in a cloud storage folder like OneDrive or Google Drive, then there is a good chances it is still available in the trash. Just access your cloud storage service and see if your important file is available in the “Trash” folder. Most cloud storage services keep your deleted files safe for up to 60 days, so act fast.

Search for it: There is a chance you might have misplaced the file or another user on your PC moved it somewhere else. In that case, enter the exact name of your file in the “Search bar” and Windows 10 will show it to you.

Recover the Deleted File

Okay so it seems you have deleted the file for sure and there is no backup of it to recover from. Well then let’s start recovering your precious data using a data recovery tool. For this purpose, Recuva is a perfect tool that is simple and very powerful. It has both a free and a paid version, but the paid version only offers virtual hard drive support, automatic updates and premium customer support. There are no restriction on the features of the free version, so it wise to use the free version and recover data (unless you need to recover data from a virtual hard drive).

Recuva can be used in two ways to recover data, a quicker way and a safer way.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Recovering Data

Below are some things that you should keep in mind while recovering data:

  • You can only recover data from a magnetic hard drive, SSDs completely delete the data and a recovery software will not work on them.
  • Try not to add more data to your hard drive to ensure your important file doesn’t gets overwritten.
  • Recovery software can also recover overwritten files, so there is still a chance you may be able to recover some parts of the file.

Method #1: Safer Method for Very Important Files

If the file you want to recover is extremely important and you don’t want to take any chances, then please shutdown your PC right now and read this post from another device. The more you use your PC, the more data is being written on the hard drive. Even while browsing you are adding data to the hard drive, such as local cache, temporary files and downloads, etc. The data is written randomly, so even if a single portion of your file gets overwritten, it may corrupt the file.

It will be risky if you download Recuva directly on the hard drive containing your important file, it may overwrite the files data. This is where you can download Recuva’s portable version on a external drive and use it to recover data. Download Recuva Portable version on another PC and move it to the external drive, like a USB flash drive (you will have to extract it first).

Now connect the external drive to the PC containing your important file, and launch Recuva portable version from the external drive. Recuva wizard will launch, it will guide you through the whole recovery procedure and make it easier to recover data, click on next here to start the process.


One the first page, you will have to select the file type. To make it easier and faster for tool to find your file, it is best to select the file type category where your file belongs. Otherwise, you can also select “All Files” here to search for all the files (good for multiple types of deleted files as well).


Once the file type is selected, you will be prompted to choose the exact location from where you deleted the file. You can choose the Recycle bin, Documents, Drives and even external drives. If you are not sure about the exact location, select “I’m not sure” and click on “Next”.


On the next page, you will see an option to “Enable Deep Scan” and start the scan. It is recommended that you only use “Deep Scan” in case the quick scan is unable to recover your deleted file. Deep Scan takes a lot of time (even hours), so it is better to give quick scan a try first. Without enabling deep scan, click on “Start” and Recuva will start scanning.


It will take just few seconds for a quick scan to complete and you will see all the recovered files in Recuva interface. You should see a circle next to each recovered file indicating whether they could be recovered or not.

Green Circle: It means the file is completely recoverable and no data is overwritten.

Orange Circle: It means some of the data is overwritten, but the file may still be recovered and may work fine as well.

Red Circle: It means most of the data has been overwritten and it is very unlikely that you will be able to recover the file or use it.

You can check the checkbox next to files you want to recover and click on “Recover” button below to attempt to recover them. If you want more options, you can also click on “Switch to advanced mode” button.


In the advanced mode you can search for the file with name and also rescan different locations with fullcontrol. You may also change basic settings by clicking on “Options” on the top right corner.


If the quick scan doesn’t shows up your deleted file, repeat the process again and select “Enable Deep Scan” this time. It will take a lot of time, but will surely show up your delete file (even if it is unable to recover it).

Method #2: Quicker Method but May Overwrite Your Important Data

If you are not in mood of going through the long process mentioned in the first method, then you may also directly download Recuva and start the recovery process. In the process you will be browsing the web, downloading Recuva and then installing it. If data from any of these steps overwrites the important file, it may corrupt it. However, the chances are very low as well and if you recently deleted the file it will most probably not get overwritten by any data. I have even managed to recover data as old as 2 year, so there is a good chance you will not have a problem (but the risk is there). Just download Regular Recuva setup file and install it. Launch the file and the rest of the steps are same as mentioned in the first method.

Tip: If you are unable to recover your file with the above methods, then you can also get help from a professional data recovery service, like DriveSavers. They might be very expensive, but in most cases they are able to recover even a completely overwritten file.

SEE ALSO: How To Recover Deleted Files on Android


For now, Recuva may have saved your data and let you again use your file. Recovering data is based on luck, if any of the new data overwrites your file it may become corrupted. So it is best to always have a backup of all your important files so you never have to depend on a recovery tool. You can use Windows built-in backup solution or try plethora of third-party backup solutions to protect your important data.

Were you able to recover your important data using Recuva? Share your story with us in the comments below.


Karrar is drenched in technology and always fiddles with new tech opportunities. He has a bad habit of calling technology “Killer”, and doesn't feel bad about spending too much time in front of the PC. If he is not writing about technology, you will find him spending quality time with his little family.