How to Recover Deleted Files from Hard Drive, USB Stick or Memory Card.

Last updated on April 5th, 2019

In this tutorial I will show you how you can recover deleted files and folders in Windows. Mistakes and accidents happen in life. Almost all of us at some point, have accidentally or deliberately pressed the 'Delete' button on the keyboard and we erased definitively important files and folders. If you are in such a situation, please do not panic because, when you delete a file (or folder) from a drive, the system doesn't really erase the file (folder), but instead it removes only the reference to that file. In fact, the deleted file remains on the drive, until overwritten.

When you delete a file (or folder) in Windows, the file goes to the 'Recycle Bin', except if you permanently delete it (by pressing Shift+DEL) or you have emptied your recycle bin. So, the first place to look in order to find the deleted file (folder) is the 'Recycle Bin'.

To Restore a deleted file from Recycle Bin:

a. Double click at the 'Recycle Bin' icon on your desktop.
b. If you see the deleted file, right click on it and choose Restore, to restore the file on its original storage location.

How to Restore Deleted Files from Hard Drive, USB Stick or Memory Card.

How to Retrieve Deleted Files or Folders in Windows 10/8/7 OS.

If you don't see the deleted file inside the recycle bin, then you can recover the missing file from the drive where it was stored, by using the instructions below according your case. *

* Note: In this article we'll show the way to recover deleted files by using the 'Recuva' data recovery program. If 'Recuva', cannot find the deleted files, then try to recover your files by using one of the excellent data recovery programs, that mentioned in this article: How to Recover Data from RAW Hard disk, USB Disk, SD Card. Additionally, if you want to recover files from a formatted drive, read this tutorial: How to Recover Deleted Files EVEN After disk format.

* IMPORTANT STEPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL DATA RECOVERY:

  • NEVER INSTALL any programs (plus the recovery programs) at the same drive that contains your deleted files.
  • STOP USING (WRITE/DELETE files at) the media that contains the deleted files.
  • CLOSE ALL OTHER APPLICATIONS before running the recovery program.
  • NEVER SAVE THE RECOVERED/DATA TO THE SAME LOCATION where they deleted.
Case 1. Recover Deleted Files from any other Storage Device EXCEPT the System Drive C:
Case 2. Recover Deleted Files from the System Drive (C:)

Case 1. How to Recover Missing Files from any other Storage Device EXCEPT the System Drive C *

* Important: Follow the steps below, only if you want to retrieve deleted files from another drive or storage device (2nd hard drive, USB stick, SD Card, etc.), other than the system drive C: (where currently the operating system installed). If you want to recover files from the drive C: then follow the instructions at Case-2 below.

STEP 1. Download and Install RECUVA

Recuva, is a freeware Windows utility that can help you to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer, your memory card or your USB stick.

1. Download and Install the Free version of Recuva.

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2. Ask Yes at UAC security warning window.

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3. Then press Install.

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4. When the installation is completed, click Run Recuva and then read the instructions below on how to retrieve your deleted files with Recuva.

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Case 2. How to Retrieve Deleted Files from the System Drive (C:)

If you want to recover deleted files and folders from the System Drive "C:\", then follow the steps below: 

Step 1. Download Hiren’s BootCD

1. From another computer download the Hiren’s BootCD *

* (Direct Download LINKS)

2. Burn the downloaded ISO file to a DVD or to a USB by using these instructions.

Step 2: Boot the Computer (With the Deleted files), from the Hiren's Boot.

1. Power ON the computer with the missing files and boot from the 'Hiren's Boot' media.
2. Explore the Utilities folder on the desktop and navigate to: Hard Disk Tools -> Data Recovery folder.
3. Double click to launch Recuva and then read below on how to retrieve the lost files with Recuva.

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How to Restore the Deleted Files with Recuva Data Recovery Utility.

1. Launch Recuva and click Next at the first screen.
2. At 'File type' options, choose the type of file/s you want to recover (document, photos, video, etc.) if you know it, otherwise choose All Files to find and recover all file types and press Next.

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3. At 'File Location' options, select the drive where was the file(s) before you delete it, otherwise press Next.

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4. At the next screen press Start and let the program scan for deleted files.*

* Notice: If the the program doesn’t find your files then run Recuva again and select the Enable Deep Scan option at this point.

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5. Now wait until Recuva scanning is completed.

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6. When the scan process is completed you should view all the deleted files that found during the scanning process. The deleted files, with be marked with colored dot, prior to their name, according to their condition:

  • A Green dot, means that the file is in a good condition to undelete it. (recover it)
  • An Orange dot file, means that the file is probably corrupted or and it is not in a good condition to undelete it.
  • A Red dot file, means that the file is corrupted and cannot be undelete.

6a. Press the Switch to advanced mode button to make the process of find your files easier.

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7. In advanced mode window, try to locate the deleted file on the list by using one of the following ways:

a. Search for the deleted file (folder) by typing its name, or…

b. Short the founded deleted files by their File Name, Source Path, Size, Date, etc., or…

c. If you know the destination (storage location) of the deleted file or folder (before the deletion) then click the Options button at the upper right side of Recuva window, and…

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…at the General tab set the View Mode to Tree view and click OK.

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8. When you locate the deleted files (folders) that you want to Recover:

a. Check the file(s) that you want to recover and then press the Recover button.

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b. Select the destination to store the deleted files and press OK. *

* Attention: DO NOT STORE the recovered files on the same media (destination) from where they deleted.

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9. When the recovering process is completed, you should find your recovered files at the destination you choose to save them. *

* TIP: If you can’t find your deleted files with the default settings of Recuva, then run the program again and at the last screen of the 'Recuva Wizard', check the Deep Scan option and scan for deleted files again.

Other Notes:
1. If 'Recuva', cannot find the deleted files, then try to recover your files by using one of free data recovery programs mentioned on this article: How to Recover Data from RAW Hard disk, USB Disk, SD Card.
2. If you want to recover files from a formatted drive, read this article: How to Recover Deleted Files EVEN After disk format.

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That's it! Let me know if this guide has helped you by leaving your comment about your experience. Please like and share this guide to help others.

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