The headache of PC users is the loss of /files: photos, documents and other data. We won't touch upon theory: this practical guide explains the basic principles of file recovery. We hope you will be able to apply them in practice.
We will consider three basic scenarios to recover deleted /files on your computer:
- after emptying the Recycle Bin,
- wiped from the hard disk,
- after formatting.
The programs used when recovering:
- EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard,
- Piriform Recuva,
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please read the frequently asked questions or write a comment.
Can you always recover deleted /files on your computer?
Not always, but in many cases it is possible. Let's explain.
Files remain on the hard disk after deletion. In the file table they are marked as "0". This means that the space is unused and can be used to write other information.
This way the file is hidden from your eyes, it is deleted only conditionally and can be restored as long as it is not overwritten with other data. (By the way, it is possible to recover /files after they have been overwritten, but there is a risk that they are partially corrupted and cannot be recovered.)
How do I evaluate the chances of recovering a file after it has been deleted?
The probability of recovering a file depends on many factors. The checklist looks like this:
- How /files were deleted - Trash, bypassing Trash (Shift + Del), format command
- How long time has passed since deletion - the further away the /files are, the higher the risk of overwrite
- The type of /files removed - some /files (images, video) can be partially recoverable, others cannot be recovered if more than one byte is lost
- The type of storage device - hard disk, RAID, etc..
- File system type - NTFS/FAT/exFAT etc.
Files can be recovered fully or partially under lucky circumstances. You cannot define the probability in numbers, but it's worth trying.
How to recover /files from the Trash
Files are usually sent to the Trash after being deleted (via the Del key). Recycle Bin is a temporary storage, data stays there for 30 days, after that it is automatically deleted. If during this time you change your mind (e.g. you remember that among the deleted /files you need), check the contents of the Recycle Bin and restore the /files. How to do this:
- Open the Trash using the icon on the Desktop or File Explorer
- Select /files to be restored and use Restore in the context menu
- Files will be restored to their original location
Restoring /files from the Trash
How to restore /files if Trash is already empty
Even if you empty the Trash the /files are not irrecoverably destroyed. However, you will need additional utilities and time to successfully recover deleted /files. Recovery programs work on the same principle: they scan the file system, looking for sectors on your computer marked as "file deleted". By installing the program you inevitably make changes in the file table, reducing the chances of recovery (depending on the amount of computer information written to the hard disk). We advise installing the recovery software on a flash drive, another computer or a disk partition that was not used for storing deleted /files.
Restoring /files after formatting
Let's move on to the more "heavy" cases. In particular, after formatting not only individual /files but also an entire hard disk partition is affected. The result is an irretrievably deleted file.
Is there a chance to recover data on a PC in this situation?
- From a quick formatting yes
- From a full formatting the chances are minimal
Asking Auslogics File Recovery and following instruction:
How to recover /files on your PC after formatting
What software can help you recover /files from the hard disk?
There are dozens of recovery software. We do not recommend you to take the first one you find: there is a risk that you will not only fail to recover your /files after deletion, but also waste your money on useless features. We list the top 3 programs that have been tested and held in high esteem by other users.
1. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard: Advanced File Undelete Recovery (in complicated cases)
- Friendliness. The Data Recovery Wizard is perfectly integrated with Windows file system and operating system. Thanks to the integrated recovery wizard, it's very easy to work with.
- Secure Recycle Bin. Unlike the standard Recycle Bin, it allows to store deleted /files to be recovered even after cleaning.
- Solve tough cases. Recover /files deleted without the Recycle Bin (via Shift+Delete), after formatting or on HDD partitions with the "raw" file system.
Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
2 Recuva - the universal solution for file recovery
Recuva - the free and actively developing program for the Windows platform. It's very easy to recover /files on your computer using it, plus it doesn't require any money for basic functions or removal of limits. By the way, on Softdroid's pages we have already told you how to recover a deleted file in Recuva. Read our detailed guide.
Let us mention three main features of this program. For the most beginner users Recuva offers to use Recuva Wizard to recover deleted /files. Here you can specify certain file types (for example, photo only), select a search location, and set other parameters to locate deleted information.
Download Recuva for free
3 DiskDrill - Restore Deleted Files on PC and Mac OS X
DiskDrill is a young product on the market of computer recovery software, but its good technical support and community speak for the maturity of the program.
Functionality DiskDrill is suitable for recovery of the majority of /files stored on the PC: images, music, video, documents, archives. The software is available not only for Windows, but also for Mac OS. Regardless of the OS, you can recover 100 MB of recoverable /files for free (and that's a generous limit).
Features of DiskDrill:
- Select the type of data to recover. You can select only the file types that will be in the search results. Attribute filtering and flexible search among recovered /files is also available.
- Pause/continue scanning at any time. Perfect if you have a large size HDD/SSD. By locking the partitions while DiskDrill is running, you protect your hard disk from being overwritten by deleted /files.
Hetman Partition Recovery
Hetman Partition Recovery: the ultimate recovery tool
Hetman Partition Recovery works with existing and deleted /files in the same way. Therefore, you can view ALL /files on your computer using Windows Explorer. HPR works not only with hard drives, but also with USB sticks, CD/DVDs, etc.
Simply connect the device to your PC, start the program and away you go. In the first step, the utility scans the disk for traces of deleted /files. Then, if it finds any results, it offers to start the recovery process immediately. Partition Recovery includes a Preview, so before you restore and save the /files to your computer you can examine them to what extent they meet your expectations (this is especially true for various multimedia information, such as photos).
Besides all, Hetman Partition Recovery performs an in-depth computer analysis of the /files located on the disk. The results of the scan are saved in a separate folder. It can contain not only entire /files, but also partially preserved /files, which is important if you have deleted valuable information. If you have formatted your hard drive, Partition Recovery is an excellent choice (as its name indicates).
See also: Best Software for Recovering Hard Disk Files
Frequently Asked Questions
I transferred some documents with pictures from a flash drive to a PC but decided to interrupt the process. As a result part of the /files have been lost. How to recover them
You have to use the copy operation and then, after checking the /files on the destination, delete the /files from the source. To do that:
- Install the sd-card to your computer.
- Download and install PhotoRec .
- Select the file types to search.
- Select a folder to save the recovered /files and start the scanner.
The hard disk had 50 GB free, now has 360 GB. I cannot see any lost /files in Recuva. How can I recover /files if I do not know their name?
The name and date of the /files will be lost after recovery in Recuva (this is also true for the other recovery tools). Thumbnails (photos) will be available in the scan results. The video can be watched by opening the file.
In any case you can check the results by opening and previewing the file.
The laptop was completely formatted and Windows was reinstalled on it. It has been one year since this event, may the /files be recovered?
The chances are extremely low. If you have actively used the laptop during that time, /files may have been overwritten by deleted /files. This is most often the case - when you are running out of disk space. But you may try to recover it, see the instructions.
I accidentally deleted some video material from my PC (a wedding). Found the program, restored it but unfortunately half of the /files were corrupted.
There are programs to repair corrupted video. Among them are Video Repair Tool, JPEG Recovery LAB, Stellar Phoenix Video Repair and others. However, they can't guarantee a 100% result. Fragments of the /files may have been lost due to overwriting by other /files.
Files are locked by a virus. When trying to open a folder a message appears: "The /files are blocked, please transfer money to the number...".
We advise you to scan your computer for viruses. To do so use Dr. Web CureIt! (free disposable anti-virus) or Malwarebytes (removes adware, blockers and different Trojans).
I tried to recover a deleted file using Wise Data Recovery. All /files that were found are in the "LOSS" state. As far as I understand they are not recoverable?
Check if Wise Data Recovery has a Deep Scan Mode. Most likely not. Install other recovery software. For example, Recuva has an in-depth scan option, which increases the chances of recovering deleted /files. You can also use PhotoRec to recover photos on your computer. Both recovery utilities are free.