How to Recover Files: Hacks for PC Users

Accidentally deleted files are commonplace for someone who is constantly working on a computer or laptop. In some cases, the victims are important documents lying in shared folders and subjected to cleaning, in others, an accidental mouse click can be fatal for an archive with photos from vacation or a file with strategies for But even if it seems that nothing can be recovered, sometimes there are chances.

Can All Files Be Recovered?

There are two ways to delete files in the Windows operating system. The first is to move to the trash. This is done using the Del key or by right-clicking on the context menu and selecting the “Delete” option.

The second is instant deletion, which immediately erases data from the media, bypassing the recycle garbage can of the operating system. It is performed using the Shift+Del hotkey combination. In theory, any files can be restored, but in practice, it depends on a lot of variables.

Where Are Deleted Files Stored and Do They Have a Retention Period?

The location of a file depends on how it was deleted. If you delete files by pressing the Del key, they will end up in the trash. There is no time limit for them – they will remain in the “digital bucket” until the PC user decides to delete or restore them.

When deleting instantly – past the Recycle Bin – the situation will be somewhat different. The fact is that once information is erased, it doesn’t physically leave the hard drive immediately. First, it’s marked by the operating system in a special way and goes into a kind of hibernation mode. In this “preservation” the deleted data can stay until it’s overwritten with other information. Therefore, it’s better to talk not about the shelf life of deleted data, but about the number of data overwrite cycles, which varies greatly from one data carrier manufacturer to another.

How to Recover Deleted Files From the Recycle Bin?

The algorithm of data recovery from the recycle garbage can is quite simple. As a rule, the recycle garbage can shortcut is located on the desktop of the operating system. To recover deleted files, it is necessary to double left-click on the recycle garbage can icon, then select “Recycle garbage can tools” in the upper panel (under the “Management” tab), then click on the “Restore all items” button. In this case, all files that were in the Recycle Bin will return to their rightful places in the system.

If you need to restore some specific files, you should select them using the ctrl, shift or “frame” key (by holding down the left mouse button) and then click on the “Restore selected objects” button. Right after that the files will return to the directories – folders – from which they were deleted.

Is It Possible to Recover Irretrievably Deleted Files on a PC?

There are always chances to recover deleted files on your PC. As we found out above, it largely depends on how actively the device was used after deleting the necessary data. But in any case, you can’t do without third-party software.

Recovering Deleted Files With Software


Probably the most famous program in the data recovery industry. It’s free and has a user-friendly interface. The utility takes up little space and can be a great starting point for data recovery, because even an inexperienced user can figure it out.

The application has a built-in virtual assistant which will tell you step by step where to start and what to do next. Deleted files with Recuva can be recovered not only from the hard drive but also from a flash drive (for example, if it was removed incorrectly and the files were damaged). 

Recuva is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 and 11. It is worth mentioning that this program is better suited for recovering single files or small groups of files. When you lose a large amount of data or after formatting, Recuva will most likely be able to recover only part of it.

To recover files in Recuva, you must first select the drive or flash drive you are interested in, then click the “Analyze” button. In the list that appears, clicking on the file on the right side will display its preview, double-clicking will open an extra window, there in the “Actions” tab, select “Recover” and click OK. When the restore process completes, the file will be available to you again.

Undelete 360

One of the main advantages of Undelete 360 is that it is completely free, without any restrictions. It won’t even show you ads! And it weighs less than 2 megabytes.

Undelete 360 can recover both individual files and entire folders. Built-in algorithms allow you to sort problem files by cause of deletion: by error, viruses, software or hardware failure.

To recover data, you must first select the partition where the files were lost. Immediately after that the scan will start. After the scan is complete, the utility will display a list where you can select the data to be recovered.

Disk Drill

Disk Drill is already positioned as a more professional solution. The software is distributed in two versions. The free Basic version provides for recovery of up to 500 MBytes only, data protection with Recovery Vault, one-by-byte disk backups and a preview of all recovery methods.

By and large, the free service package will be sufficient for solving everyday problems, such as a suddenly broken flash drive with an important presentation. For non-trivial tasks, the PRO-version is available. It includes unlimited restore, quick, and deep scanning (which differ in duration and accuracy of operations), lost partition search, and work with all types of drives and file systems. Disk Drill will be able to find and restore even files that have been affected by viruses and have been partially corrupted.

To start the file recovery process, first select the disk you need on the right side of the program, then define the scan area (the folder you need) and the scan method (quick or deep). After the program completes the scan in the corresponding dialog box, you must start the recovery process.

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