How to Recover an Accidentally Deleted File


It can be a great annoyance to accidentally delete a file. Thankfully, there are a few ways to recover such files. Deleting a file in Windows normally puts it into the Recycle Bin. If the file is not in the bin, it might still be possible to recover it.

Recycle Bin

When you click on a file and press Delete, Windows puts this file in the Recycle Bin.


Restore from Recycle Bin

Recycle Bin acts as a folder, which you can open as any other folder and restore files from it.

However, it is possible to change the Recycle Bin’s settings for the behavior of deleted files.


Recycle Bin Properties

To check your Recycle Bin settings, right-click on its Desktop icon and select Properties from the drop-down menu.

In case you do not have a Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop, launch Windows Explorer (Win+E). In the left pane of the window, click Favorites > Desktop.

Then in the right pane of the window right-click on the Recycle Bin’s icon and select Properties from the drop-down menu.

Personally, I don’t like to use the Recycle Bin because it creates an environment of negligence.

With the Recycle Bin completely disabled, I have to make good decisions regarding deleting files. But this approach might not be beneficial to everyone.


Even those who have Recycle Bin enabled can bypass it by deleting a file or a folder using the Shift+Del keyboard shortcut.


Once in a while, I still need to recover a file. In such a case I use the excellent and free Recuva tool.

When not using the Recycle Bin or when looking for a file that has been already emptied from the bin, it is important to try to recover the file as soon as possible.

The file, even though deleted, is still physically located at the drive. However, when a new file is written to the drive, there is a possibility that it will be written partially at the same spot as the accidentally deleted file.

As time passes by and more and more files are written to the drive, the probability that your file will be lost forever rises rapidly.

Recuva uses a wizard to guide you through the recovery process. You select the type of file you are looking for and the original location of the file.

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Recuva Wizard — Step 1

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Recuva Wizard — Step 2

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Recuva Wizard — Step 3

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Recuva Wizard — Step 4

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Recuva Wizard — Step 5

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Recuva Wizard — Step 6

Recuva then scans the drive and shows you all the files and their state — from excellent to unrecoverable. Files that are partially overwritten usually come up with a very poor or unrecoverable state.

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