Accidentally deleting files is common, and while most people panic and worry that the file is gone forever, it’s still possible to recover deleted files in Windows 11.
When you hit delete on a file, Windows doesn’t immediately remove it from your hard drive. Instead, the file space occupied is marked as free and available for new data. If you act quickly, you can often recover the file before new data is overwritten. So, if you accidentally deleted an important file, don’t worry! This guide will show you how to recover deleted files in Windows 11.
Using Undo Delete (Ctrl + Z)
The Undo Delete feature is the easiest method to recover deleted files in Windows 11. This feature only works if you delete the file with the Delete key or by right-clicking and selecting Delete.
Note: if you emptied the Recycle Bin, used a third-party file deletion tool, or shift-deleted a file, this method will not work.
After deleting the file or folder, press Ctrl + Z on your keyboard. This will undo your last action, which in this case, is the delete operation.
You can also use the Undo Delete feature by right-clicking an empty area in the folder where the deleted file is located and selecting Undo Delete from the menu.
Using Recycle Bin
The Recycle Bin is a temporary storage location for all the files and folders you delete from your computer. By default, the Recycle Bin is located on the desktop. As in the previous method, this only works if you deleted the file using the Delete key or by right-clicking and selecting Delete.
- Open the Recycle Bin.
- Locate the deleted file or folder you want to recover and right-click it. Select Restore from the menu. The file or folder will be restored to its original location.
Using File History
File History is a feature that automatically backs up files in your system folders such as Documents, Music, Videos, Desktop, and Downloads. This feature is turned off by default, but you can easily turn it on from the Settings app.
Note: This feature only backups data located at C:\Users\<username>.
- Open the Start menu, search for “File History,” and select the top result.
- You will notice a message that says File History is currently turned off. Next to this message, click the Configure File History settings link.
- In the left-hand pane, click Select drive to choose the drive where your backup will be saved. This drive can be external or internal.
- After choosing the drive, click OK.
- Now, in the main File History window, click Turn on. Your files will start backing up automatically.
- To restore files using File History, open File History and select the Restore personal files option in the left-hand pane.
- You will see all the backed-up copies of your files and folders. Select the version that you want to restore and click the Restore button.
Using the Previous Version
Previous versions come from two different sources: File History and System Restore. So, this feature only works if you have previously turned on File History or created System Restore points.
Note: If you just added files, I recommend backing them up before going through this technique since it will return the previous version, which may not contain the new files.
- To use this feature, right-click the folder that contained the deleted file, then select Properties.
- In the Folder Properties window, switch to the Previous Versions tab.
- You will see a list of all the available restore points. Select the restore point you want to use and click the Restore button.
OneDrive is more than just a document storage service. You can also upload other files such as images, videos, and music.
All you have to do is upload your file to OneDrive, and whatever happens to these files on your computer, you can always download them again. To retrieve your file using this method, you need to have your file backed up on OneDrive.
Note: The free version of this service only gives you 5 GB of storage. You must buy one of their subscription plans if you need more.
- Open a web browser and go to OneDrive. Log in with your Microsoft account.
- You can see all the files and folders stored in your OneDrive account in the main window.
- Locate the file or folder you want to restore, left-click it and select Download.
Using Older Backup
A system image (also known as a backup image) is a single file that contains a compressed replica of your hard drive. When you restore a system image, your computer returns to its exact state when you made the image (it will recover all the files). There’s no need to reinstall, repair, or configure anything.
You can use this method if you regularly create backups of your system. If you do not have any backups, I recommend using one of the other methods mentioned in this article.
- Open the Settings App.
- Go to System > Recovery.
- Click Restart now under Advanced startup.
- Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Image Recovery.
- Select your system image backup and follow the instructions of the recovery wizard to complete the procedure.
Using CMD or PowerShell
You can use the Command Prompt or PowerShell to restore deleted files. This method will help you repair missing or corrupted system files.
- Click the Windows button and type “cmd.” Right-click the Command Prompt icon and select Run as administrator.
- Type the following command and press Enter:
chkdsk volume: /f
attrib -h -r -s /s /d volume:\*.*
- Replace “volume” with the drive letter where you want to recover files, for instance, d:
- If you want to use PowerShell, click the Windows button and type “PowerShell.” Right-click the PowerShell icon and select Run as administrator.
- Follow the same command above.
Using Microsoft’s Windows File Recovery
Windows File Recovery is a command-line tool available through the Microsoft Store. You can use this program to recover data that has been unintentionally erased from your local storage device (including internal drives, external drives, and USB devices). Network file shares and cloud storage retrievals are not supported. According to Microsoft, the syntax for using it is:
winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]
- Open the Microsoft store and search for “Windows File Recovery.”
- Click Get to download and install the tool.
- Open the Windows File Recovery. It will automatically take you to the command prompt window.
- Type the following command and press Enter:
winfr C: E: /regular /n \Users\<username>\Documents\
While replacing <username> with your Windows username.
- This command will scan your C drive and save all the recovered files on your E drive. You can replace the drive letters according to your missing files and want them saved.
Using Third-Party Applications
If you cannot recover the deleted files using any of the methods mentioned above, you can use third-party data recovery tools. Many tools can be effective. Here is an example of a popular one:
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a popular application that can recover deleted files from your computer. It supports many file types, including documents, photos, videos, music, etc. This application can recover files from your hard drive, external hard drive, USB flash drive, memory card, and more.
- Go to the EaseUS website and click Try for Free to download the application.
- Install and launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your computer.
- Select the drive which you want to recover files from and click Scan.
The scanning process will start and take some time to complete.
- After scanning, you can see all the recoverable files in the main window. Select the files you want to recover and click Recover to save them on your computer.