How to get deleted files back in Windows

Suppose you suddenly lost a lot of files. Perhaps your complete photo archive! Then panic quickly sets in. Fortunately, there are several ways to get back lost files in Windows. Here we show you how to proceed.

Lost files can usually be recovered easily - if you notice the loss quickly enough. But every time you write something to the hard drive, the chances of successfully recovering your files decreases. So use the computer as little as possible until the files are recovered or you have given up hope. Also read: How to protect files from unauthorized persons.

Try the following solutions, in this order:

Check the Recycle Bin

Windows stores "deleted" files here as a security measure. You can find the icon in the top left corner of your screen. If you find the files here, select them, right click on them, and choose Restore.

Use your backup

If you regularly back up your hard drive - or at least your libraries - your files are probably kept there. I don't know what backup program you are using, so I can't tell you exactly how to search for the files and restore them. Overall, it's a fairly intuitive process.

And if you're not backing up, maybe it's time to make it a habit. It won't help you now, but maybe next time.

Try file recovery software

Even a file that is no longer in the Recycle Bin can still exist. Windows does not overwrite the zeros and ones until another file needs the disk space. That's why I said you should use your PC as little as possible.

There are several good file recovery programs available. I recommend Recuva Portable. It is easy to use and has a good reputation. And sometimes it shows you the images it can recover. (I've also seen the program recover images it couldn't display beforehand.) It's also free.

And since it's portable, meaning you don't need to install it, you can use it on your PC without writing to the hard drive. Download the program on another computer, and unzip it to a folder on a flash drive. Then plug it into the PC with the lost files, and run it from the drive.

Hire a professional

This is a last resort, if nothing above works. There are many data recovery services available, and since your drive is still working, you probably won't need one of the very expensive ones. I've never used such a service myself, so I can't recommend a particular company. Ask friends for recommendations, or find someone nearby.

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